DBIA Conference 2023: Industry Insights


In the ever-changing Design-Build world, keeping up to date with industry trends, innovations, and best practices is crucial to our success. This year’s Design-Build Conference & Expo in National Harbor, Maryland, was an opportunity to share our knowledge and learn from others. Our team members Sarah Young and Alex Noble, joined by Sada Nagata of Accretech and Bob Moore of Jacobs Heating & Cooling, shared our unique perspective with the industry.

Our team’s presentation showcased O’Brien’s work on the Accretech Offices and Production Facility. Titled “No Project Too Small: Scalable Processes for Dynamic Solutions”, the session focused on the unique way that we approach the Design-Build process.


Collaboration with the project owners and within our team is the secret to the Accretech project’s success. Using the principles of deep listening, we let go of our own assumptions of what an industrial building should be, and put in the effort to understand our clients’ vision. Together we answered the questions:

  • Can we reimagine what industry should be in a new context and its role in the natural environment?
  • Can industrial buildings be exciting?
  • Can they reflect history and point toward a better future?

To answer these questions: Yes! The design harmonizes beauty, function, sustainability, business objectives, and the happiness of the building’s occupants. We came to understand these concepts as interconnected parts of a holistic approach to Accretech’s work.

The audience response was incredible and highlighted the unique working style we’ve adopted at O’Brien. Audience members were impressed with the way our team has embedded cutting-edge technologies into our process, with the level of collaboration with our subcontractors, and with the scale of the project. Design-Build projects are typically large in scale, so many audience members shared lessons about how to apply Design-Build principles to smaller scales.

Our unique mix of leadership styles, age groups, and experiences pushes us to innovate. Our panel was the only one to have two DBIA Young Professionals on it. In an aging industry, our ability to draw from experience, approach problems in new ways, and transfer knowledge to the next generation is bringing us into the future.

Rendering of the Accretech facility in Portland, showing main entrance framed by wood features and with cherry blossom and Japanese maple trees in front.
Architectural Rendering of the Accretech Offices and Production Facility
Project timeline. Milestones shown: Site Selection, 30% SD, O'Brien D+B Selected, D+B Delivery Selection, Program Understanding, Advocation & Approvals, AHJ Submissions.
Project timeline showing important milestones and project phases.

One thought on “DBIA Conference 2023: Industry Insights

  1. You all ROCK! I am so proud of our team for showing how to do this on smaller projects and for showcasing our technology and up and coming young dynamos! Congratulations, Sarah and Alex!!!

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