C5: Collaborate, Create, Construct Capstone Charette

Presented by: Elizabeth Pober, Tammy McCuen, Lee Fithian

C5 is an interdisciplinary design-build project designed as a collaboration between architecture, interior design, and construction supported by the use of building information modeling (BIM). The name C5 derives itself from a mantra developed to define the project containing 5 “C’s”: Collaborate, Create, Construct, Capstone Charette. Guiding the development of C5 is the premise that BIM enhances collaboration in the design-build process and that collaboration depends on five key principles applied to all team members: interactive communication, full involvement, mutual trust, shared risks and rewards, and teamwork (Design-Build Institute of America, 2012). The three week C5 project was organized for students in the final semester of their academic career. The composition of each typical student team was made up of one student from each of the architecture, interior design, and construction programs. The planning and design of the project was also a collaborative team effort with one faculty member from each of the three represented disciplines. The faculty agreed that the best way to teach collaboration was by example; therefore, industry partners with prior experience working together were recruited to actively participate in the project as experts to role model for the student teams. The industry partners shared specific examples of successful collaborative experiences providing the students a real-world perspective and valuable knowledge about best practices from an integrated approach. Local community clients with real-word projects were also utilized for the project focus. The architecture and interior design students formed the design team and worked together in a collaborative teamwork approach as the prime designer. The constructor provided ongoing design review and feedback about the project’s constructability, costs, and risks. BIM was utilized throughout the project by all team members to facilitate interactive communication and decision making. The first day of C5 was scheduled as an eight hour intense meeting with team building exercises, introduction of the project by the community client, industry partners’ presentation and role playing demonstrations on team building and professional collaboration skills, release of the request for proposal (RFP), and time dedicated for the teams to work together and begin making decisions about the project. A second meeting between the faculty and students took place midway through the project to evaluate the students’ progress and address any issues with team dynamics. The three faculty members maintained collaborative office hours where individual teams could meet with the faculty and discuss any issues or ask questions. During the final segment of the project, the student teams submitted and presented their project proposals to the clients, industry professionals and faculty members. The students’ understanding of the other disciplines on their team improved and in turn they learned to respect and trust each other’s contributions to the project. Students also further developed their technical expertise and gained a better understanding of how BIM can enhance interdisciplinary team collaboration. Although traditional capstone projects are completed individually, C5 provided an added component that further reinforced the idea that a collaborative effort is required to successfully design and construct a building. Ultimately C5 provided students with a simulation of what they can expect in their future professional roles. The academic environment provided students with an opportunity to practice their professional roles with peers representing the future roles of their collaborative team members. Buildings are ultimately created by a diverse team of professionals, and better buildings can be created when the team members are able to escape their individual professional silos and collaboratively work together based on mutual understanding and respect


  • Design-Build Institute of America (2012). Design-Build Manual of Practice, Washington DC, 2012.
  • Eastman, C., Teicholz, P., Sacks, R., & Liston, K. (2008). BIM Handbook. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Gladstein, D. L. (1984). Groups in context: A model of task group effectiveness. Administrative Science Quarterly, 29, 499-517.
  • National Institute of Building Sciences (2012), National Building Information Modeling Standard, Version 2. Downloaded from http://www.nationalbimstandard.org/
  • Smith, D. and Tardiff, M. (2009). Building Information Modeling: A Strategic Implementation Guide for Architects, Engineers, Constructors, and Real Estate Asset Managers. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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