Government Decision Makers Find Prototype Construction Attractive in the United States

Austin, TX, June 09, 2014 - A new type of government initiative has escaped the notice of most Americans but is a trend that appears destined to move quickly through governmental entities in the United States. It’s called prototype construction.

Prototype construction projects have become popular because governmental organizations in the United States are scrambling to find ways to reduce spending without cutting jobs or constituent services. Benefits related to prototype construction are significant.

Prototype construction is a concept that is modeled on replication. However, it is more than just a cookie-cutter approach for buildings or infrastructure. It’s the development of prototype designs that retain basic or essential features that are carried for multiple structures. Because the design remains the same, a government subdivision only has to invest in design costs one time and the replication process allows for significant savings.


Officials in Pennsylvania are receiving scrutiny with one such project - the state’s Rapid Bridge Replacement Program. Pennsylvania holds the unenviable distinction of leading the nation in structurally deficient bridges, and more than 4,000 bridges are in dire need of repair. State officials decided to try prototype construction to reduce their costs. Here’s how the initiative worked.

The first step for Pennsylvania was to find a private-sector partner willing to help finance, design and build 500 new bridges over a six-year period. Under a prototype construction project, the private-sector partner will also maintain the bridges for the state for up to 40 years.

The goal of having one contract in this type of a public-private partnership arrangement is to save money on design, construction and maintenance by using a prototype for each bridge. The 500 bridges are all similar in size and design so one rendering will work for each structure. Costs are reduced because the replication process allows for numerous types of economies of scale and shorter construction timelines.

Similarly, a private-sector firm has developed a prototype design for the construction of all future U.S. embassies. The federal government hopes to save millions by using the same model and the same building materials while cutting construction timelines through best practices and experience.

School districts throughout the country are considering prototype building programs. Many school districts need new buildings immediately because of population growth. Once the design phase for a structure is complete, construction work can be trimmed from 10-14 months to about four and savings are substantial. Additionally, best practices and lessons learned contribute to efficiency and cost reductions on subsequent facilities.

In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, a prototype process applied to a dozen new schools saved the district about $9 million. Some of the savings were attributed to standardizing air filters, lamps, flooring and other construction supplies across the 12 schools as well as discounts for bulk purchasing.

In the Wake County schools of North Carolina, the district saved between $1.9 million and $6.6 million on design fees by using a prototype design. The DeKalb County School District in Georgia used a prototype design for the rebuilding of seven elementary schools and in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, two new elementary schools were built from a prototype design.

While some may think of prototype facilities in terms of boxy, industrial, prison-gray buildings that all look similar, that is usually not the case. The basic designs can be adapted and modified to reflect the personality of a school or community. Prototype construction engagements represent another innovative way public officials are reducing public project costs. This trend is a wake-up call to architects, construction companies and engineering firms interested in capturing large public sector contracting opportunities in the United States. Providers interested in dominating this new market space have a higher chance of success by leveraging the services and experience available from third party organizations that specialize in these types of public contracts.

Further information regarding public-private partnerships for prototype construction can be found at

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