Design-Build Delivers

Celebrating DBIA's 2023 Design-Build Conference & Expo Winning Teams, Projects and People

November 20, 2023 DBIA
Celebrating DBIA's 2023 Design-Build Conference & Expo Winning Teams, Projects and People
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Design-Build Delivers
Celebrating DBIA's 2023 Design-Build Conference & Expo Winning Teams, Projects and People
Nov 20, 2023

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November 2023

In this supersized episode of the Design-Build Delivers podcast, DBIA celebrates the winners from the 2023 Design-Build Conference and Expo. We caught up with Chair’s Award winner Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Project of the Year 1021 O Street State Office building and the winning National Design-Build Student Competition team from the University of Florida. Brunelleschi Lifetime Achievement Award winner Bill Hasbrook and Distinguished Leadership Award winners Linnell Stanhope, Kathy Tuznik and Nick Ulliman reflected on their awards as well. Relive the 2023 Design-Build Conference and Expo through their excitement in our special episode.

Guest(s) (in order of appearance):

Nia Rubin
Director of Real Estate Development, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)

Jeff Wellenstein
Project Manager, Hensel Phelps

University of Florida's Team Cypress Construction

  • Christopher Fettes
  • Tristan Henderson
  • Ava Standridge
  • Nassay Jimenez
  • Maria Cocco
  • Russell C. Walters, William G. and Aneice R. Lassiter Instructional Assistant Professor, M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Construction Management, University of Florida

Bill Hasbrook, Jr., MEMS, TCFM, FDBIA

Linnell Stanhope
Business Development, Crowder Construction

Nick Ulliman, PE, MBA, DBIA
Senior Project Manager, Ulliman Schutte Construction

Kathy Tuznik, Assoc. DBIA
Senior Deputy General Counsel, NYC Department of Design and Construction

Access all our free design-build resources and learn more about Design-Build Done Right® at

DBIA members are shaping the future, one successful collaboration at a time.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

November 2023

In this supersized episode of the Design-Build Delivers podcast, DBIA celebrates the winners from the 2023 Design-Build Conference and Expo. We caught up with Chair’s Award winner Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Project of the Year 1021 O Street State Office building and the winning National Design-Build Student Competition team from the University of Florida. Brunelleschi Lifetime Achievement Award winner Bill Hasbrook and Distinguished Leadership Award winners Linnell Stanhope, Kathy Tuznik and Nick Ulliman reflected on their awards as well. Relive the 2023 Design-Build Conference and Expo through their excitement in our special episode.

Guest(s) (in order of appearance):

Nia Rubin
Director of Real Estate Development, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)

Jeff Wellenstein
Project Manager, Hensel Phelps

University of Florida's Team Cypress Construction

  • Christopher Fettes
  • Tristan Henderson
  • Ava Standridge
  • Nassay Jimenez
  • Maria Cocco
  • Russell C. Walters, William G. and Aneice R. Lassiter Instructional Assistant Professor, M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Construction Management, University of Florida

Bill Hasbrook, Jr., MEMS, TCFM, FDBIA

Linnell Stanhope
Business Development, Crowder Construction

Nick Ulliman, PE, MBA, DBIA
Senior Project Manager, Ulliman Schutte Construction

Kathy Tuznik, Assoc. DBIA
Senior Deputy General Counsel, NYC Department of Design and Construction

Access all our free design-build resources and learn more about Design-Build Done Right® at

DBIA members are shaping the future, one successful collaboration at a time.

 Erin Looney  00:09

More than 2300 attendees joined DBIA in National Harbor, Maryland, for the 2023 Design-Build Conference & Expo. It was nearly a week of non-stop design-build sharing with a few well deserved breaks. We celebrated DBIA's 30th with the Mid-Atlantic Region. We showed off our skills at TopGolf, and we networked with professionals from across the country at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. The conference is a very busy platform to not only talk about design-build but to celebrate some of the year's very best. I am Erin Looney, and this is the Design-Build Delivers podcast brought to you by USCAD.


Erin Looney  00:47

In this episode, we relive some of the highlights of our annual conference. I talked to project and team award winners Nia Rubin from Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Jeff Wellenstein from California's 1021 O Street State Office Building, our Project of the Year winner. University of Florida's winning student competition team Cypress Construction stopped by. So did Brunelleschi Award winner Bill Hasbrook and Distinguished Leadership winners Nick Ulliman, Linnell Stanhope and Kathy Tuznik. I wish we could have talked to everyone who joined us this year, but for now we'll have to settle for these winners.


Topic 1: DBIA Project/Team Awards, Featuring Nia Rubin from WMATA 

Soundbite 01:31

2023 Design-Build Project of the Year is 1021.


Erin Looney  01:40

DBIA honors the nation's best design-build projects and leaders each year at the design-build Conference and Expo during a special award ceremony. Project and team merit awards are chosen during the summer by a jury made up of industry experts, and those merit awards go on to compete for national awards of excellence best in categories project of the year and the chairs award. This year 62 projects were submitted across 10 categories and the debate this summer was lively to say the least. All that lively debate led to the night of November 2 when we presented the awards to the winning teams.


Erin Looney  02:16

We caught up with a couple winners –– Nia Rubin, Director of Real Estate Development at WMATA and Jeff Wellenstein of Hensel Phelps from the 1021 O Street state office building. Nia joined us at the award ceremony to talk about the five awards Metro won: Merit, Excellence, DEI, Best in Design Architecture and the Chair’s Award. Now, that was the most awards collected by a project all night. And it was the first renovation project to take home the Chair’s Award. It was a pretty impressive night for Nia.


Erin Looney  02:45



Nia Rubin  02:47

Thank you very much.


Erin Looney  02:49

You took home five, five awards tonight.


Erin Looney  02:53

It's incredible. Honestly, I had no idea that we would be receiving all of this great recognition. It's, it's really awesome.


Erin Looney  03:02

Awesome. That's exactly what we want to hear. So you, you guys, tonight, you took home the award for DEI. Now, that's not surprising given that you set a 30% goal and surpassed it by 10%. So that's a pretty hefty over-achievement. So talk about the process of working with MWDBEs, and how did you identify firms? What were you looking for? And what value did that 40% MWDBE bring to the project?


Nia Rubin  03:30

So we worked with our Office of Small Business Enterprise and Development. And we hosted several industry days in which we had the developer and Gilbane come and speak at the industry day and really speak to the upcoming work and resources that they were going to need and when they were going to be issuing RFPs for consultants or contractors and vendors. So we–– that–– they did that in coordination with us. But then they also did their own outreach. Gilbane has his own program, and did a tremendous job–– did a lot of local groundwork, so to speak. And we're able to retain and hire a number of businesses. What is particularly neat was that the participation was at almost every level. So it wasn't just in design, or in the construction team. But you know, we have tried to continue that throughout the operations as well–– so throughout the operation–– so it doesn't end when the project is completed. We still try to certainly hold ourselves to a high standard and we try to meet those goals.


Erin Looney  04:40

Excellent. So one of the comments from one of the jurors was –– and this is a quote –– “they took an absolute dog of a building and they turned it into an excellent space–– an elegant space.” Sorry, which is, you know, a large part of why you also took home the best in design for architecture tonight. So what were the biggest obstacles you had –– and the team had to overcome to make that dog into something special?


Nia Rubin  05:04

Yes, that is a fair characterization of the existing building. Yeah, we had to remove very heavy precast panels. It was a decision we had to make pretty early on, if we wanted to achieve LEED Gold. That was our target to get the daylight into the space, you know, floor-to-ceiling daylight –– and get that natural light, far reaching, far into this space. That was very important for us. We had to do a fair amount of reinforcement of the underground garage that was in structurally not the best condition. So that was an unknown, of course, going into the project. But that's the risk you kind of take with an existing renovation. And then we have –– well, Gilbane constructed this column free multipurpose room that we use as a board room. And so that, that included some pretty significant structural members to –– very complicated to get that in there. And then we are adjacent to some CSX tracks. And I recall that, you know, there were a couple of times that we had to bring in material and carry it over the rail tracks, and CSX wanted us to particularly use a luffing crane. And that was I think there were only like one or two available. And so that presented a major challenge to the project–– this, this, you know, getting the right type of crane that would be acceptable to CSX to keep us on schedule and on track. So there were a lot of hurdles. Those were just a few.


Erin Looney  06:49

So the last question we have: Metro’s new headquarters project is the first renovation project to win a Chair’s Award and one of the only –– few –– very few renovation projects that also took home this many awards. So when using design-build on a renovation project, what does a team or an Owner –– What do you need to consider differently for an award-winning renovation project? So we can start a tradition of renovations winning the bigger award?


Nia Rubin  07:21

Oh, wow, that's a big question. I think the way we structured our team of collaboration from the very beginning –– our design-build partners to studios, architecture and Gilbane –– really started to get into a rhythm. And then they were very responsive to our needs and our developing requirements and what we prioritize as important. And so it was this iterative, evolving process that they were really great partners and collaborative partners on. We needed to make very cost conscious decisions, but, but also had very lofty goals for sustainable design. So I would say it's about collaboration upfront. And early and often. Like setting up that relationship in that process. It is, it does involve sort of setting your priorities; you're not going to get everything. So you got to figure out what it is that is most important to you. And so some of our highlights were, we really wanted to create a great staff experience. And so our focus was the natural light. It was getting the mobility into the space and creating this communicating stairway that we have in the middle of the, you know, the floor plate. So figuring out what experience you want to create will help inform those design decisions early on. Also very important. All related, right, is that we were able to achieve this by doing early release packages. And so we had to frontload, through the advisement of Gilbane and studios, make decisions early on all these major systems. And so we make those informed decisions on major systems by conducting some energy analysis. So, so knowing what your priorities are, having team members that are looking to help you solve problems and providing you with information to make those decisions is critical to how we were able to do this.


Erin Looney  09:42

Excellent. Thank you so much for joining us and again congratulations. You know you gotta beat this next year right. What are you gonna build between now and then?

Topic 2: DBIA Project/Team Awards, Featuring Jeff Wellenstein from Hensel Phelps 


Erin Looney  09:53

Now, WMATA took home the most awards and we'll see if they top it next year, but there's also the highly coveted Project of the Year, and that went to California’s 1021 O Street State Office Building, the state's Department of General Services’ first foray into progressive design-build and a pinnacle of sustainability –– which helped the team also collect a Merit award, an Excellence Award and best in process for progressive design-build. Now, we let the team come down from their high a bit before we brought Jeff Wellenstein from Hensel Phelps into our studio to talk about their honors.


Erin Looney  10:27

Jeff, congratulations –– Project of the Year. That's a –– that's a pretty big deal. But project of the year is not where it ended; you all won four awards. So tell us how that feels to take home the DBIA project of the year. 

Jeff Wellenstein  10:42

It felt amazing. The entire team was super excited. We endured a lot through the project and to finish on time and to win all these awards was pretty amazing. 

Erin Looney  10:52

This was one of California's first PDB projects at this scale, the California state level. And just recently, SB 706 –– It was signed last month –– how do you think winning this project of the year will impact other agencies in the state now that PDB use has been expanded in California, 

Jeff Wellenstein  11:12

I think it will be hugely beneficial for other projects. The unique nature of this project is,  this was actually a temporary home for the entire California government. So all the legislators and the governor, everyone resides in this building while the Capitol is getting renovated. So the lawmakers got to see it firsthand what you can do with progressive design-build in the state of California. Like you said, this was their first job, they loved it. And I think it will–– it will go a long way for, for the industry and for, for DBIA.


Erin Looney  11:44

So this building is also California's first net-zero, all-electric state office building –– the project achieved LEED Platinum status, which was a big hit with our jurors –– features a lot of sustainability efforts, a lot of mechanisms to be, you know, renewable. Talk about the importance of creating this project to meet those high sustainability standards.


Jeff Wellenstein  12:06

From the onset of the job, we set out to check every box we could, like you said, I think we have tier –– or CALGreen Tier One and Two, LEED Platinum, net-zero, and all those things. But there was a goal of the projects and of the teams from, from the onset, that we were going to achieve all those things. We also wanted to prove that just because you were doing progressive design-build and some of that stuff wasn't necessarily in the criteria, that we could go achieve those things and wanted to show and hit, hit it out of the park, what you could do with progressive design-build.


Erin Looney  12:39

Now, can you talk a little about the efforts that it took to keep the project on schedule? I know you managed to keep it on time, there were a lot of moving parts, including a global pandemic. So how did you keep things moving when the world had other plans?


Jeff Wellenstein  12:55

There were a lot of different things that we did to keep the project on track. Like you said, it was a pandemic. It was during civil unrest. There were numerous fires in California. And this project is inspected by the State Fire Marshal. So when all that stuff happens, we lose inspection sometimes. But the team really rallied around that –– and became –– we were always wanting from the beginning –– and we became even stronger during that time. And we were able to finish the job on time. 

Erin Looney  13:24

What would you take as a lesson learned from this project –– PDB for a state agency –– that you would tell someone who said, “I think I want to do that too?” 

Jeff Wellenstein  13:36

I think the biggest takeaway is it just really starts with the right team. Being able to hand select your team. For us, fortunately, we've done a lot of work with the state of California. So we had an existing relationship with them. And there was a level of trust that already existed there. So I think the biggest lesson learned for, for someone else trying to do something similar would be if you don't have that relationship, if you don't have that trust with the client, you need to go establish that right away and build that right away. Because it's super important to have that for the job, because that's what allows you to move forward and trust each other that you're making the right decisions for the project and for the team.


Erin Looney  14:13

So when you were putting the team together, and you were deciding how to approach this and building the parts and pieces to create this project, did you think we might be DBIA’s project of the year? Was that a surprise?


Jeff Wellenstein  14:25

Well, it was part of the plan, honestly. So we–– early in the project. Partnering was a huge part of the project to make sure that we continued that level of trust. But when we created focus groups –– we had seven focus groups –– one of the focus groups for it before we ever put a shovel in the ground was was an awards focus group. So we went into the project identifying key–– several key awards that we wanted to go try and get and when and we've won a lot of those so from–– before we even started, you know, we had people focusing on like what do we need to do along the way to ensure our ability to go after these awards and potentially win them. So the project has already won upwards of over 12 awards across all the a lot of different venues.


Erin Looney  15:09

So you did it right. That Awards team was a good idea. Final question. A team is getting together and they have the same goal. We want to be a project of the year for DBIA. What do you tell them?


Jeff Wellenstein  15:21

I just think you just need to aim high. And you need to do the Design-Build Done Right®. DBIA does a lot of training. They have a lot of tools. A lot of companies now have numerous credentialed people. And I think the more credentialed people and the more design-build centric firms that you can bring to the project, the more collaborative the job is, and you just need to aim high. 

Erin Looney  15:47

Excellent, thank you. 

Jeff Wellenstein  15:48


Erin Looney  15:48

And again, congratulations.


Erin Looney  15:51

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Topic 3: Florida Gators Chomp Competitors in DBIA National Design-Build Student Competition 


Soundbite 16:16

The 2023 Design-Build Student Competition finalists in first place is the Cypress Construction University of Florida.


Erin Looney  16:39

You know if you listen closely, there's a faint “Go Gators” in there. That's me. You can take the girl out of Florida… The DBIA National Design-Build Student Competition draws teams from around the country to vie for design-build bragging rights. This year, those bragging rights go to the University of Florida's team Cypress construction. Team Architecture State from Alfred State College, a first time competitor, placed second, and team Cardinal Design-Build representing returning champion University of Arizona came in third. In addition, Alfred State's JoAnna Musacchio took home the best individual presentation award. UF team members Christopher Fettes, Tristan Henderson, Ava Standridge, Nassay Jimenez and Maria Cocco came by the studio to talk about their win along with their faculty advisor, Russell Walters. 

Erin Looney  17:28

How does it feel to win the student competition? You've been working on this for months? What is–– what is the feeling right now?


Tristan Henderson  17:35

Pretty surreal, to be honest, I had a couple of tears coming in my eyes on stage. So that's what I'll say.


Christopher Fettes  17:43

I think Tristan is–– this is his second year in the competition. This is my third year in the competition. And so even though it's been like months of work is a team together that's brought such this awesome opportunity to win together. There's also kind of this feeling of we've built up to this over these few years. And just to kind of have climbed that mountain, with this team with Tristan, with the teams that we've had before, it makes it feel even that much more special to get to be a part of a win like this.


Maria Cocco  18:18

I’m feeling very, like, strange about it because it's my first year and like my first time ever doing, like, any sort of competition. So I think having someone like Chris on the team who, like, knows so much is, like, super helpful, but I was like, “Okay, we did it.”


Erin Looney  18:33

Set the bar kinda high. The first competition, you win. Now you expect nothing less. Well, can you just for people who maybe didn't see the presentation, didn't see what you did, can you guys briefly describe the project a little bit?


Christopher Fettes  18:48

Yes. So the project is a hypothetical proposal for an activity and recreation facility on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado. And for this project, we're essentially role playing as a design-build firm that is seeking to engage with the hypothetical building committee to win this project. Then the three shortlisted finalists, as a part of this conference, get to present on their proposed designs and connect with the building committee. And from there, that's kind of how they bring down to the winner.


Tristan Henderson  19:21

Yeah, and during the presentation, we just kind of reiterate “why us,” really, as well as providing a breakdown of our estimate and schedule. Things like site safety, logistics. 

Erin Looney  19:36

You all had the same thing. All the teams have the same building. So talk about how you came up with the ideas for your proposals. How did you decide we're gonna set this apart? And we're gonna win it with our ideas?


Maria Cocco  19:48

Yeah, I think there was creating like, a really–– like a well developed, like design narrative for the project because we decided to have this project sort of centered around like values of accessibility and just bringing that through like the design.


Christopher Fettes  20:02

And once you kind of get to that point where you feel like you have a design that is cohesive and embodies the goals of the university, it kind of takes that next step into making sure that there's buy in from the whole team and connection from the whole team on what the design is, what the design is about, that we're talking about building a collaborative environment in our workplace that really the approach to what setting us apart permeates into everything we do as a part of the competition.


Erin Looney  20:31

This is about design-build, and design-build’s about collaboration. Talk to us about teaming for your project. No, wait. I don't care right now about the plans for your design-build team. I want to hear about teaming amongst yourselves.


Ava Standridge  20:45

I think this project was unique in the way that all of us were very passionate about being here and getting it done. A lot of times in a group project, you have people who aren't quite so passionate, they're just trying to get their grade done. But I think all of us were really like, focused on making sure we could produce the best product possible.


Nassay Jimenez  21:01

Chris and Tristan had already worked together. They knew Maria as well. Ava and I had been on a competition together before so we knew each other. It came easily for us to like, communicate ideas, bounce off ideas off each other. And I think that was key for us because it went noticeable in the presentation. And it was noticeable in the design that it wasn't just like, oh, they came with each side of the design, and then just put it together. It was a bounce off of ideas that produced a beautiful design.


Erin Looney  21:31

I want to pick that apart for just a second, if you don't mind, you said, you know, the pieces were not distinct that they did work together. How do you think that ability to sort of make it seamless, would help you in a design-build competition?


Christopher Fettes  21:48

I mean, what is design-build, if it's not seamless connection between these teams? The–– this is really the opportunity as a project team to embody the idea of this connection, that really what design-build offers so well is this integration of design of construction of all these management systems that bring a project team together within itself, and also together with an Owner. And so really making that a core part of how we work, not just how we say we work as a firm, but then how we work actually, as a team, I think really helps us embody what the competition is about in the first place.


Erin Looney  22:27

So now we've talked about a lot of good things, let's go to the other side of it. Nothing is perfect. What was the most challenging part of developing your project?


Tristan Henderson  22:36

One of the biggest challenges that we had to overcome was understanding what our client actually wanted, understanding what their goals were, really digging in, and understanding their goals and objectives was something that we had to come back to more than once.


Ava Standridge  22:55

I think it's like important to note that we are all college students, we all have jobs, we all have finals, we all have exams. And this isn't something that we're doing full time. So trying to juggle all of our schedules and all of our responsibilities could be a little bit difficult at times. But I think we, we definitely managed to do that pretty well so…


Christopher Fettes  23:12



Maria Cocco  23:13

I have my own like design project that I'm actually working on right now. And that's also a partner project. And it's like, it's like, Okay, I gotta design two buildings almost at the same time, like, with the help of people, but still, it's like, it's a lot to think about. It's a lot of like overlaps.


Erin Looney  23:29

So the multitasking, multitask, that does not go away. So final question. You've won the competition, you get to brag. Absolutely. But how do you think –– or how will winning this help you in that next step, get you where you're going next?


Christopher Fettes  23:47

Yes, the awesome thing about this competition and the opportunity to present in the, the way that it's been laid out is essentially you get the opportunity to be in the field without being in the field. This competition gives you the opportunity to fail in a safe environment to learn in a safe environment without the stakes to a level of an actual project in the field. And it gives you this marketability and this opportunity to say hey, like I've produced something like there's a very tangible set of deliverables that as a team we've put together and…


Tristan Henderson  24:22

The biggest value that I'll take away with this as I begin my career is just the value of true teamwork. Learning how to work is one cohesive unit, you know, throughout my time at the University and just life, you know, it's for the most part been working groups. And now, you know, we really learn what a team is. And I'll take that forward with me for sure.


Nassay Jimenez  24:44

So, as right now, like I'm interviewing with several companies to get a job. I'm a senior. I'm trying to get out there. And most of my conversations have been, “Oh, so what are you doing in school?” and it's like, “I'm in the middle of this competition.” So I've been telling everybody. “Are you playing to win?” I am winning. It is a commitment–– we have committed to this. So I've been using it for a couple months now. And I will continue to do so


Erin Looney  25:12

it just got better.


Nassay Jimenez  25:13

I can not only say like, “Hey, I competed in it,” I'm like, we won nationals. That is not a simple thing to do.


Ava Standridge  25:22

I've also been using in a similar way to decide. I actually interviewed with somebody who came and watched our presentation. I told them, you know, we’re top three, we're gonna win, and then he got to watch us win. So that was a nice, bring it home kind of moment for me. So bragging rights have definitely been acquired.


Erin Looney  25:40

Thank you guys. Congratulations again.


Erin Looney  25:44

The students, of course, do the bulk of the work, but they do so with the guidance of a faculty advisor. Cypress was advised by Russell C. Walters, the William G. and Aneice R. Lassiter Instructional Assistant Professor at the M.E. Rinker Senior School of Construction Management at the University of Florida. Tell us a little bit about your role in guiding these students on this project.


Russell Walters  26:06

I will help them as much as they're willing to be helped. And this was a really good group of students, I could continue to push them and they will continue to take it and deliver. So I kind of feel it's kind of my role. So you know, I have to be involved and encourage them.


Erin Looney  26:22

Can you talk a bit about the strength of the students –– not individually necessarily –– about their strengths and what those strengths brought to the project?


Russell Walters  26:30

The–– kind of collectively –– the, the biggest street they look for really in a team is if you're willing to put in the effort and time, you know, as you can see, we can win. And that's kind of the big strength I have that, we've been fortunate we have a good construction school, we have a good design school. And I think this year I've like, I've done well, but they also recruit each other in bringing in some people that also can work together.

Topic 4: Bill Hasbrook on Being a Human Alarm Clock, Building a Brunelleschi-level Career 


Erin Looney  26:59

On top of project and team awards and the student competition, the Design-Build Conference and Expo is also when we present the Distinguished Leadership Awards and the Brunelleschi Lifetime Achievement Award. This year’s Brunelleschi, recognizing over 30 years of design-build excellence, went to William G. “Bill” Hasbrook, who is always a blast to talk to.


Erin Looney  27:19

Bill. Thank you for taking a little time out of your lifetime achievement World Tour to spend some time and talk to us for the Design-Build Delivers podcast.


Bill Hasbrook  27:28



Erin Looney  27:29

So let's start by talking about the moment in your career when you became a design-build advocate.


Bill Hasbrook  27:35

My first experience with design-build was around 1982, while I was serving in the Air Force as a Minuteman deputy combat crew commander at Whiteman Air Force Base. So the concept for these Minuteman nuclear missile sites started in 1958, and in just a few brief five years after that the first sites were activated and online and my base became fully operational on June 29 of 64. All the missiles and launch control centers were redundantly connected via a hardened interstate cable system. And that acronym is HICS. 20 years later, when I came into it, things start to wear out, the HICS system was filled with an inert gas so that sensors could detect a pressure loss. And that will alert security forces to the possibility of someone maybe trying to take over the system.


Bill Hasbrook  28:24

But a more realistic threat was that the system was just plain wearing out and erosion in many of the areas allowed the farmers’ plows to cut into the casing and so pressure was lost. But nevertheless, in the early 80s, Air Force started to upgrade–– replace parts the HICS. So how does the missile man get involved in this type of construction anyway? The silos and launch control centers are scattered all over the countryside with some as many as 200 miles from the base. So that meant a lot of driving. But even more so when you're following the redundant cable system which ran randomly across the countryside. It was somewhat of a Herculean effort on its own. Well, the firm that got the design construction contract for that, they had, had a problem with folks getting sleepy and having accidents as they tried to locate and [indistinct]. So the Air Force is infinite wisdom. They took us out of the missile holes on the few days off we had and made us ride with them to keep them awake. So how did we keep them awake? We chatted. So I was curious on how do you win a contract like that? And there was no design-build nomenclature back then it simply was design and construction. But how do you win a contract like that? How does it work and so forth. And I wasn't any threat or competition to him. I was a little second lieutenant in the Air Force. So the people I rode with were extremely eager to share all of their secrets and tell me all about it. And so began my brush with design-build by keeping the contractor awake while trying to locate nuclear missile hardened cable lines.


Erin Looney  29:59

So now looking at the decades of experience after that, before that, just your epic amount of experience. Is there any one particular project that you are particularly proud of?


Bill Hasbrook  30:13

So I've worked around the world and on such diverse projects as the US Embassy rebuild in Moscow, pharmaceutical plants in Puerto Rico, power plants here in the US and abroad, the shuttle runway expansion and rebuild at Edwards Air Force Base, energy cells for Department of Energy, responding to hurricane disasters, the first ever contractor led design-build cement plants in Florida, Arizona, and but I'd have to say probably the most rewarding was participating as one of the three teams awarded the opportunity to rebuild Iraq after the first war. And those teams were Kellogg Brown and Root and Bechtel. And then our team of Fluor AMEC. But if you remember that poor country was in shambles after Saddam Hussein pretty much gutted it. The infrastructure was non-existent, and our team specifically was setting to get power up and running. So let me ask you, can you imagine the logistical problems with that? First, what can you offer folks to entice them to go work as civilians in a hot war zone? Where they're not even allowed to defend themselves? Money? And how much money are you willing to get paid to put your life on the line? Then there's logistical issues like, Where do you sleep? How do you get around? We ended up going to beat up local vehicles just to keep our folks safe and from getting shot at and how to even get life and casualty insurance since at the time, almost all of those had writers that said they're not responsible, if it happens is an act of war. And to make it even more critical, there was also the unbelievable task of having to inform families their loved ones were lost and not coming home. But you know, we all had a common goal to rebuild the infrastructure in that war torn nation and bring back normalcy to its citizens. The team left their individual corporate hats at the door and pulled together as a single entity. It's like we all couldn't get up early enough each day to get to work and start back up on getting it all done. So I probably have to say that's the project I'm most proud of participating in. And it most certainly had the biggest impact on the most people.


Erin Looney  32:23

So what I'm gathering is solving large logistical problems seems to be the hallmark of your career. 

Bill Hasbrook  32:29

It's part of it. 

Erin Looney  32:31

So let's go to the other side. Now, what was the most challenging point in your design-build career and how did you approach it?


Bill Hasbrook  32:38

Well, sadly, that's an easy one. And you kind of hit the nail on the head just a second ago on large–– solving large project issues. So I was on a mega bridge design project. And it should have been so much fun, as it was the largest of its kind in North America, and the folks in the trenches were just top notch. But there were a number of overpowering obstacles. First, there was a huge learning curve, and many times a huge language barrier. design-build done right was not a familiar concept in the least. And things like diversity, don't bid shop, prompt pay MWDBE contracts–– all that were not known concepts at all. The Owner overall had an incredibly successful resume in design-build, but their local folks who are managing it, while having recently completed a very small design-build project locally, were inexperienced in a project of this type and size. And as you might expect, pretty much a one of a kind project. So that's not–– that's not unusual, unexpected. So they relied heavily on their GEC or general engineering consultant for help and guidance. Now to throw another wrench in, the GEC's project manager had different goals than the rest of the team. This was the poster child if ever there was one for design-build done wrong. So the solution was first to start with education. what is and isn't design-build, what are the best practices, next came partnering and integration. So you want to put all this newfound education to work and start with an executive partnering session for buy in, and then roll it down to the entire team. Then I implemented what I call a chief integration officer, which was me. And that position was charged with attending executive committee sessions for support and guidance and integration, ensuring cohesion across all lines and suggesting movement and changes among team members when applicable. Design-build takes on a different mindset as we all know, and we need to ensure the right minded people get on the design-build bus and once on the bus we need to ensure they're in that right seat.


Erin Looney  34:52

That is a textbook example. Wow. So you–– you've had a successful career and a very successful portion of it in the military. You mentioned that at the start of our chat with your time at Whiteman, the HICS and your pivotal work as a human alarm clock. In fact, a lot of the people we interviewed for your video, they didn't say you were a human alarm clock, but they did say the military is where your leadership skills and even your interest in construction started. So do you think Second Lieutenant Bill would have expected a lifetime achievement award in design-build? And what would he have said?


Bill Hasbrook  35:33

Well, the younger Bill –– Second Lieutenant “Butter Bar” Bill –– was just trying to get by, pay off his student debt, afford a place to live and afford a car, eat and occasionally enjoy a cold brew. But no, I never could have even imagined such an award existed much less winning one. Interestingly, an award to me is like a gift. No one owes you a gift nor should you expect or demand one from anybody but what a treat it is when you get one. Almost always such an unexpected welcome surprise, just to be cherished. No. Never in young Bill's wildest dreams could he ever anticipated such an unexpected and gracious honor as this. 

Erin Looney  36:21

Could go back and tell him while he's working as a human alarm clock. Don't worry, this leads somewhere.

Topic 5: Distinguished Leadership Award winner Linnell Stanhope Talks about Bringing Design-Build to North Carolina, Lifelong Learning, Hearing What Isn’t Being Said  


Erin Looney  36:29

DBIA also honors leaders in the industry with the Distinguished Leadership Awards, and we were lucky to catch up with all three of our 2023 Distinguished Leadership Award winners, industry practitioner Linnell Stanhope, Owner Kathy Tuznik and young professional Nick Ulliman. The first distinguished leader I spoke with was Linnell Stanhope from Crowder construction, as the Leadership Award winner under the industry practitioner category. Linnell has made educating and promoting design-build a tenet of her 30 year success in the industry. She has been involved in DBIA through service on the boards and committees of DBIA national and local chapters.


Erin Looney  37:07

So Linnell, you've been promoting, educating and influencing the adoption of design-build practices around the Midwest, the Mid-Atlantic and the Southeast regions for the past three decades. So let's unpack that 30 years just a little bit.


Linnell Stanhope  37:21

I started off in the Midwest, in Kansas. And it was interesting, because in Kansas, there were no laws allowing design-build and nothing prohibiting it. So we pretty much were able to do what we wanted to. And while progressive design-build is the hot word right now, we were basically doing progressive. Since then Kansas has changed. And they now have design-build laws. I left Kansas in 2007 and moved to North Carolina. Crowder, the company I work for, covers the Southeast and the Mid-Atlantic. So our surrounding states, Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, can all do design-build. North Carolina did not allow it. So that was really one of my first initiatives was to create that opportunity because I believe so strongly in what design-build can deliver for Owners.


Linnell Stanhope  38:13

So we now have excellent legislation in North Carolina that allows us to do basically –– it's called design-build in our general statutes –– but that is progressive design-build. And then they have design-build bridging, which is the fixed price design-build. So North Carolina has great laws allowing Owners to choose whichever is going to be the best for their project.


Erin Looney  38:34

What role do you think you had in convincing the people around you that this change in North Carolina –– this is good, we really want to be able to do design-build delivery?


Linnell Stanhope  38:46

What I really feel like I do is I educate and I think that's where most of my significant impact on design-build has been is in the process of educating and the support of Crowder's leadership and believing that this was a better way for us to do work and a better way for Owners to achieve what they want to achieve. But it was just as important to educate engineers, because our engineer partners, they're really the reliable source for Owners. So it's important that our engineers understood why this was a process that was going to benefit their clients. Most of our clients are public owners. So helping the regulatory agencies understand that this was going to be a fair process and a competitive price for the owners, the utilities in the state. So I think a big part of what I did was getting out and educating owners, engineers, partners, regulatory agencies and our competitors, because what we realized is that if a competitor won a design-build project, and they didn't do it, well, the process –– the design-build process –– was blamed. So it's absolutely critical to me that even though we didn't win a project, it was important that project go well.


Erin Looney  39:58

How were you introduced to DBIA, and what made you get involved with, with us?


Linnell Stanhope  40:05

You know, it actually started in Kansas, and I worked for a man who, who preached, if you're going to be part of an organization, if you're going to be a member, then you better get involved. So his encouragement kind of led me to participating in some of their committees, and one of them was their awards program. So the company I worked for in Kansas was called CAS Construction. And Charlie Stryker was the owner. Charlie was a believer in design-build, and we connected to an engineering firm who felt the same way. And we went out and started preaching design-build and realized that DBIA was able to provide resources and support and answer questions for us, so we could do a better job of selling the process. So I think it was heavily that involvement and not just being a member buying their contracts. You know, using their resources, we actually became actively involved in trying to make things happen trying to educate others.


Erin Looney  41:10

So not that buying the contract is a bad idea. We're not saying that. But there's so much more. Sure. So when I was doing my research, I noticed a lot of people mentioned you as a trusted adviser, as personable, as a good mentor. How do you think those skills and those characteristics have helped you succeed in your career?


Linnell Stanhope  41:34

I don't know if I would call myself a good mentor. But I do want people to understand. So I do love to share my knowledge, my experiences, I'll offer advice all day, if someone asked me, and I do love learning, but I also love sharing what I learned. So as far as a mentor goes, having a desire to educate –– and not being afraid to educate even your competitors –– has been very important. I think others view me as someone who has information to share, one of the things that I've heard from the people I've worked for, that the value in having me in the room bringing me to meetings is that I listen, and often hear things that aren't said. And I think that personable quality is the ability to listen and hear what are your pains, I want to understand what the issues are that's bothering our clients so that I can help come up with a solution. And then as far as the trusted, I think that is the key because in my mind, the key to design-build is trust. And that's what allows us to collaborate. And that's what allows us to speak the truth. And when people say I'm a trusted adviser, that means so much to me, because that means that I'm able to be honest, whether it's saying something positive or challenging an idea that trust allows us to really get to the bottom of what needs to be done and how we can best deliver a project.


Topic 6: Nick Ulliman Turns Following the Family Business Into Award-Winning Career 

Erin Looney  43:06

DBIA’s young professional Distinguished Leadership Award winner Nick Ulliman has construction and design-build in his veins. As a senior project manager at Ulliman Schutte Construction, Nick works toward collaboration and creative solutions throughout design and construction. Nick is also no stranger to DBIA awards. He managed the Louisville MSD Southwestern Parkway CSO Storage Basin Project, which won DBIA’s 2019 design-build National Award of Excellence in the water wastewater category.


Erin Looney  43:37

So Nick, you are a young professional by definition, but you have such a depth of experience already. How do you use that combination of being both young and so knowledgeable to advocate for design-build?


Nick Ulliman  43:50

Being young as you know, it's beneficial because I can connect with the younger folks –– that next generation of design-build professionals. I think a lot of times they view me as more of like a peer and a friend than like maybe some of the older folks in the industry where they might be more like dad telling them to do something. So I think when I talk to him, it's more like talking to friends. So like my, my peers, my colleagues and the folks that report to me, I think they like hearing about Design-Build Done Right® for me and why certification matters for me, because I think it just kind of resonates better with them. It just sticks because you know, we're about the same age. 

Erin Looney  44:24

That makes sense. Nobody wants to hear dad telling them what to do. You mentioned certification. What's the importance of getting DBIA certified early?


Nick Ulliman  44:33

Well, I think it's supremely important to do it. Like a little background, my first couple of jobs were design/bid/build. And then I moved on to like progressive design-build and design-build delivery jobs, and I got certified right when I was starting those projects. And I think it's really important because once you've gone through the training, you can start to kind of speak the design-build language. And the other thing that's nice about it is when you can get your entire team certified, it's like everybody's kind of like singing to the same sheet of music. And then a side benefit of being certified to me is going to the conferences. And I think as a member, DBIA has been doing these biweekly or monthly webinars. So it's really nice to get continuing education to learn from others. We’re a water infrastructure builder, but going into like the National Conference, I get to interact with vertical builders and, and Highway and Transportation and things like that, folks that I wouldn't normally interact with, and learn from them as well.


Erin Looney  45:34

And that's our Design-Build Delivers Webinar you mentioned. Thanks for the plug. So judging by the name of the firm where you work now, construction is the family business. So talk about how having the support of a family that knows the industry has helped you navigate your own career.


Nick Ulliman  45:52

It's been great. And it's interesting sometimes I don't know where my family by name starts and our family with the company starts and stops. We've got a really good family feel to the organization. A lot of the folks have been here their whole careers. You know, we know everybody, we know their kids, they know me, it's, it's really interesting. And then you know, I get some of the older generation that say, “Hey, I remember seeing you run around in diapers,” or “hey, I remember when your dad had something going on with mom and we babysat.” Yeah. So it's, it's really unique feel. And it's like it's funny, I remember I think I was the only kid like in fifth grade that had my schoolbooks covered with old clarifier plans,


Erin Looney  46:34

but it made them different and cool. Right? So how will having this DBIA Distinguished Leadership Award help you better advocate now for design-build and help your clients meet their goals?


Nick Ulliman  46:46

I'm super humbled to be nominated and to receive the award. It's not something I expected at all. And even though it's an individual award, I think it's really a team award. You know, I don't think it would have been possible without having good Owners around me, good design partners, good–– good sub consultants, good folks on our team. And I think what it really does is kind of give further credence to the credentials I have, you know, it emphasizes that I know what Design-Build Done Right® principles are, what they mean and how to live by them. And I do think it's going to be one of those things. It's a challenge to kind of pay it forward and live up to the expectation and continue to try to earn the award.


Erin Looney  47:26

And the next step is the Brunelleschi Lifetime Achievement.


Nick Ulliman  47:29

Possibly, we'll see. It's a long ways off


Erin Looney  47:33

you know, time flies, so… 

Nick Ulliman  47:36

that's right.

Topic 7: Kathy Tuznik Never Thought She’d Work in Construction, Becomes a Distinguished Leader For Her Work in NYC 


Erin Looney  47:38

Next, I talked to Kathy Tuznik, Distinguished Leadership Award winner in the Owner category. Kathy, a lawyer, advocates for drafting fair and reasonable legal terms for design-build programs. She is the Senior Deputy General Counsel at the New York City Department of Design and Construction, and her leadership helped the city embrace the use of design-build and created a seismic shift in the city's ability to deliver projects.


Erin Looney  48:02

Hi, Kathy, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us in your Distinguished Leadership haze and glory.


Kathy Tuznik  48:12

Thank you for inviting me to speak. 

Erin Looney  48:14

Of course. First before we talk about the award. Talk to us about your involvement with DBIA. 

Kathy Tuznik  48:20

I think my involvement with DBIA goes back to 2018. This is where the city of New York received very limited design-build authority. And as an employee of one of the agencies that was listed in the legislation and who was granted and–– that which was granted design-build authority. I was part of the team that participated in one of the earliest DBIA certification workshops. I took my exam and became the Associated DBIA Design-Build Professional in I think late 2018. And I since then have attended the expos and the annual conferences. I am now a member of the progressive design-build committee and an avid listener and webcast participants of the educational webinars.


Erin Looney  49:08

You mentioned working for New York, let's stick with that for just a minute. You worked on a design-build agreement for New York that incorporates DBIA’s best practices. So talk about your role on that project.


Kathy Tuznik  49:19

So as I mentioned earlier, in 2018, the city of New York have received very limited design-build authority. And actually this past June, the first project, the Queen's garage and community spanning space in Queens, New York, achieved substantial completion. So even before this project took place, when we knew that we could go out and procure projects using design-build. That was a sign for us that we needed to have a taskforce here within DDC to figure out the steps needed to implement a design-build program. Then in the early stages I was part of the team of people who participated in the DBIA certification workshops, to teach myself and as well as others about the DBIA best practices and, and what we must do to become an Owner of choice. I also participated in discussions with our sponsor agencies. They are the end users, but they do participate in the procurement process. So they have to be trained on the DBIA best practices. We have agencies that grant us the funding, oversee our legal documents, require registration of a contract to make it effective, those agencies as well and needed to be trained. In addition to training the sponsor agencies and oversight agencies, we did talk to the industry, because the industry has worked with us in the past and ones that were design-builders but did not work with us, we needed to know what it is that they thought we needed to do specifically in our legal documents and our procurement processes to ensure that design-build projects done by DDC could be successful. So we took all of that input, we worked with our procurement professionals, we drafted our RFQs and RFPs. We also hired outside counsel, a firm that had experience working with Owners on design-build projects, to help us create a completely new form of a design-build agreement. In general projects are in design phase for about two to three years before they can be packaged and bid out under the–– using the design/bid/build project methodology. And a similar project in a similar location was almost twice as long done using you know, design, bid and construction. It was almost six years as opposed to three and a half years.


Erin Looney  51:49

That's a good moment of advocacy for design-build. Um, so going beyond just that agreement and sort of larger scale, how do you leverage your experience with design-build, to help New York City work toward becoming more sustainable, modern, flexible? I know those are big goals for the city.


Kathy Tuznik  52:08

In and of itself, I think design-build as a project delivery methodology is inherently more collaborative, has more of a partnering approach than I think a low bid environment and allows us as a city agency that can use design-build to deliver projects to New Yorkers –– again, ones that are appropriate for design-build –– that are done on a much more expeditious basis. So having a project done on a design-build basis doesn't mean that the community and the New Yorkers are not part of the process. The design process does require design-builders to appear before community boards, they do have to present their design ideas before they can move forward. We also have the Public Design commission that opines on the public facing facets of buildings. But it does allow us to be more efficient and to deliver projects without the delays that sometimes are just inherently part of the design/bid/build process. Design-build as a tool, it does help New Yorkers and does make New York a more modern city, more flexible and more innovative.


Erin Looney  53:19

All of this is extensive work. Two questions, the first part, you know, you're a lawyer, and you work in the AEC industry. Not that that's completely unusual. But it is a different path from our other Distinguished Leadership winners this year. What is something you wish someone had told you before you started your career?


Kathy Tuznik  53:39

When I went to law school, I knew I didn't want to be a litigator. I knew I wanted to be a transactional attorney. Did I know that I wanted to work in the construction industry? Nope. Despite my dad and my brother being in the construction industry. So I think I wish one thing somebody had told me before I jumped into the construction industry is actually understanding and learning the business, not the laws, but really understanding the business concepts. Because in order for me to be a good construction lawyer, especially a construction lawyer that works in house counsel that has a client that very often is asked to opine on legal aspects, but often on business aspects as well. I wish somebody had told me like, Maybe you should take a class, you know, on business concepts, or even there are degrees in construction management, you know, take a class and a construction management school where maybe I could learn those concepts that I hear every day, but I had to Google and learn that would have been really useful.


Erin Looney  54:37

You know, hindsight is 2020. You couldn't predict necessarily, this is where you would end up. But if somebody asked, maybe 15 year old Kathy, do you believe this will be your job?


Kathy Tuznik  54:49

There's no way. I have no interest. I mean, my brother joined my dad's firm straight out of–– like even, you know, every summer he worked for my dad at a construction firm, and right after college, he worked with my dad. He’s still there. I that's just something I had zero interest in and joke's on me


Erin Looney  55:13

Of course these award winning moments were only a small part of the Design-Build Conference and Expo, with tracks and sessions and networking and all those moments in between where attendees shared with one another in a space dedicated to the advancement of Design-Build Done Right®. If you missed out this year, never fear; we call it our annual conference for a reason. Or you can get ready for our sector specific water/wastewater and transportation/aviation conferences in Cincinnati, April 15th through 19th. Registration opens very soon. Meanwhile, thanks to Mia, Jeff, Chris, Ava, Tristan, Maria, Nassay, Russell, Bill, Kathy, Nick and Linnell for joining this special episode. And of course, thanks to USCAD for their continued support of the Design-Build Delivers podcast. Learn more at

DBIA Project/Team Awards, Featuring Nia Rubin from WMATA
DBIA Project/Team Awards, Featuring Jeff Wellenstein from Hensel Phelps
Florida Gators Chomp Competitors in DBIA National Design-Build Student Competition
Bill Hasbrook on Being a Human Alarm Clock, Building a Brunelleschi-level Career
Distinguished Leadership Award winner Linnell Stanhope Talks about Bringing Design-Build to North Carolina, Lifelong Learning, Hearing What Isn’t Being Said
Nick Ulliman Turns Following the Family Business Into Award-Winning Career
Kathy Tuznik Never Thought She’d Work in Construction, Becomes a Distinguished Leader For Her Work in NYC