Case Studies

Aspen Group

Maximizing Ministry in the Midwest through Integrated Design Build

For over a decade, Aspen Group (Aspen) has been a leading design-build firm in the Midwest. Focusing on religious institutions as its forte, Aspen employs a fully integrated team of architects, project managers, field superintendents and other design and construction professionals highly skilled in the latest BIM drafting and design technologies.

Since 2002, Aspen has delivered turnkey church projects that maximize ministry for its clients throughout Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota. “Everyone wants to say they can do what we do, but a typical bid contractor can’t automatically turn into a design-build firm over night,” explains Dave Wilde, director of design for Aspen. “It’s a huge investment to have the capable staff and management required to operate as a design-build company.”

An Early Understanding

Aspen utilizes an integrated process from vision to feasibility, preconstruction and architecture to construction, assisting churches on a fixed budget with a complete, educated analysis of their project. The company stresses the importance of the early stages of the design build process where Aspen identifies a client’s readiness to build through cutting-edge tools and 3D modeling.

“The first step is to earn the client’s trust,” details Dave. “The bid game is full of deceit and waste, so if you can’t be honest about cost from the get-go, you’re not going to earn their trust. We don’t believe competitive or hard bid is the right process for our customers because we’re working with fixed budgets.”

Aspen works with customers and subcontractors to outline a plan, eliminating confusion early on. “The field has changed from the days of 2D drafting to 3D modeling, but it’s all part of a natural flow,” explains Dave. “Thanks to this new technology we’re now able to outline a project better than ever before. We have regular pre bid meetings with subcontractors where we show them in 3D what they’re bidding on -erasing any confusion. We can go through wall by wall and highlight the whole project.”

Dave admits that new BIM technology has made the design-build process much more interactive. “There are fewer headaches than there used to be with software such as Autodesk as well; the kinks are getting worked out,” he adds. “The model also serves as living, breathing virtual replica of the building that lasts the life span of the facility and helps with targeting maintenance for our facilities management team down the road.”

Working with Integrity

Dave stresses the factor of open communication. “We deliver a guaranteed price,” he says. “We work hard to make sure everything is included and the owner knows what’s included. If we forget something, it’s not the owners fault -we’ll pay for it. We want to work with integrity.”

Upholding this level of trusted service has resulted in many multimillion dollar church new builds, renovations and additions. “We’re working on our fifth project with the Westside Christina Church in Springfield, Ill.,” shares Dave. “They’ve been a customer for a long time. We recently added an 18,000-square foot lobby and a ministry addition for junior and senior high school students. We’re updating the sanctuary to hold more worshipers at about $13 million in addition construction.”

In Indianapolis, Aspen performed a $16.5 million, 72,000-square-foot chapel build with a 2,000-seat sanctuary. In June 2013, Aspen also broke ground on the 70,000-square-foot Community Christian Church in Naperville, Ill., but Dave admits the company’s most interesting job was an out-of-the-box church relocation.

“In Decatur, Ill., we took on a 120-year-old Lutheran Cathedral that was moving to a 138,000-square-foot warehouse space,” he details. “The church purchased the warehouse from a clothing distributor and our challenge was to move the highly traditional components of the facility, such as the stained glass and pipe organ to the new site. Nobody thought it could be done, but it turned out really nice and everyone was extremely happy.”

Dave reveals Aspen’s motto of open communication and working with integrity has helped pull the company through the economic downturn. “Because people are spending less, they’re also watching what they spend to a higher degree and asking how to get the best price,” he says. “Everyone is more skeptical which is why our BIM capabilities are so important.”

“I don’t look at resumes without BIM experience, because it’s the future,” admits Dave. “There are only a handful of companies left that are not using BIM. By implementing this technology we can showcase our thorough design process and earn our clients’ trust early on.” For 11 years, Aspen Group has maximized ministry across the Midwest with an outstanding team dedicated to honest work.

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Spring 2018



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