U executive Kruse receives design-build leadership award

Brad Ellingson

Eric Kruse just won a national award for doing things backward.

Kruse, the Vice President for University Services, was recently given a Distinguished Leadership award from the Design-Build Institute of America for his involvement in boosting the popularity of the design-build construction method.

The DBIA recognizes people involved with the design-build method of architecture, which is a relatively new plan for building. Previously, buildings were constructed with competitive bidding systems, in which companies would vie for contracts before buildings were designed.

Prior to working for the University, Kruse worked for the Minnesota North Stars for 16 years.

After the North Stars moved to Dallas, Kruse was hired at the University, where he has worked for more than 10 years.

“I was always mostly interested in business and wasn’t really sure what area specifically, so I took a very generalist approach to it,” Kruse said.

To many people on campus, Kruse is known for his dedication to construction projects.

“It’s something that’s always interested me,” Kruse said. “To me it’s like putting together a big puzzle.”

Over the years, Kruse has advocated the design-build concept for 15 projects, including the Ford Hall and Murphy Hall renovations, Coffman Union and the Barbara Barker School of Dance.

The Barbara Barker School of Dance received the American Institute of Architects’ Minnesota Honor Award in 1999 and the American Council of Engineering Companies’ Grand Award in 2000.

Kruse said the design-build method can speed up project implementation.

“There are other ways of doing it, but this is one that gives the owner the best chance of success,” Kruse said.

“It allows the owner or the decision-makers to make the decisions based upon the best available information, rather than projecting what that information will be at some future time,” he said.

Still, Kruse knows not everyone accepts the design-build concept.

“It’s not appropriate all work be done one way, one size does not fit all, but I think more and more work will be done this way,” he said.

As for the recent award, Kruse said he is honored.

“I’m very humbled by it because all I’ve simply been trying to do is just to do my job,” he said.

Tim Busse, departmental director of University Services, said Kruse is worthy of the award.

“He’s used the visibility of his vice presidency to not just sway or influence decision-makers but to educate,” he said.

While everyone might not agree, Kruse continues to educate and advocate the design-build method to complete construction projects.

“Around this institution naysayers have become believers,” Kruse said.