Not So Plane & Simple

Roasterie Coffee Company’s Douglas DC-3 airplane in front of the downtown Kansas City MO skyline at dusk, summer 2013.

Builders and designers shape communities.  With this great privilege comes great… ETHICS debate.  This is currently playing out in Kansas City.  The Kansas City International (KCI) airport infrastructure is ready for an upgrade to business class.  Interested parties submitted Design-Build-Finance proposals in hopes of being selected.


Project delivery is how prospective builders or designers are to accomplish the goal.  Project delivery typically adheres to one of two methods: Design-Bid-Build or Design-Build.  There are a host of metrics to follow so that the project proposals are compared methodically.  When another facet is added for comparison, like financing, anything can happen.  Equitable proposal comparison can be challenging even without comparing finance options.  Committees attempt to compare apples to oranges to pork chops.

Finding the Right Fit

The top two characteristics of ethical proposal selection are transparency and fairness.  However, selection rests on a landscape of competition, exclusivity and even prominence.  It is enough to make even the most level playing field riddled with fierce juggernauts.  The system can be built to appeal to logic and ethics.  Yet the appeal triangle of Ethos-Pathos-Logos does not exist without emotion.   Mayor Sly James has indicated that “who” builds the airport is not as imperative as getting the actual airport infrastructure piece fitted into the Kansas City puzzle.  Kansas City voters will have the opportunity to cast his or her own opinion of the city council’s selection in November 2017.  This is where the rubber meets the tarmac.  Standby.

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