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CUF Report Inspires Capital Construction Process Reform in NYC

Impact - January 2019

CUF Report Inspires Capital Construction Process Reform in NYC

New York City's Department of Design and Construction (DDC) announces a major plan to overhaul the city’s capital construction process, mirroring key recommendations from CUF's 2017 Slow Build report.

Tags: innovation economy creative economy libraries

On January 24, 2019, Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan and Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Lorraine Grillo put forth an ambitious new plan to overhaul the city’s capital construction process.

This announcement follows a 2017 CUF report, Slow Build, which revealed staggering delays and cost overruns at DDC-managed capital construction projects for libraries and cultural institutions. Through dozens of interviews with top officials at cultural institutions and libraries, as well as architects, private construction managers, engineers, and officials at DDC, CUF documented a culture of delay throughout the city's capital construction system and found that the median new library and cultural project in New York City takes roughly seven years to build and costs approximately $930 per square foot, which is roughly twice the cost of a new office tower in NYC. In addition, the report found that 86 percent of delays in DDC-managed capital projects occur before construction begins, and that the average project spends nearly a year waiting for approval of change orders. 

Many of the specific proposals in DDC’s reform plan mirror recommendations made in CUF’s Slow Build report, which was made possible with support from the Charles H. Revson Foundation. Specifically, the report identified ideas for reducing delays in the period prior to construction and streamlining the process for approving change orders that are being adopted by DDC.  

This effort is a continuation of the Center for an Urban Future's extensive research on New York City's infrastructure, including the groundbreaking studies A New Leaf: Revitalizing New York City's Public Parks Infrastructure and Caution Ahead: Overdue Investments for New York City's Aging Infrastructure.   

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