Contracting an architectural project, on a large or small scale, can get messy without proper documentation and legal agreements. As more players become involved in the process, a firm needs increased legal protections and clear delineations of responsibilities, roles, and permissions on and off the construction site.
“The contract is in place to make sure that everybody understands the project in the same manner, from the beginning,” said Ellen Bailey Dickson, founding principal at Bailey Edward Design in Chicago. “You’re managing expectations. The more upfront you can be, the more smoothly the process will go.”
Ismaili Jamatkhana House of Worship, Bailey Edward Design
AIA Contract Documents encompass a myriad of document category options and are backed by over 100 years of industry acceptance. Bailey Edward Design has used them to ensure that legal agreements are effective, and that the relationships built upon them go smoothly.
The American Institute of Architects organizes the contract documents into 11 families, based on project type. The agreements range from the conventional design-bid-build model — one that involves the architect and construction contractors — to documents to establish protocols for use of digital data. Each document provides firms with a standard legal agreement but is also customizable to specific needs.
"AIA Contract Documents put the architect in a better position to negotiate for additional services by having an [addendum] list,” said Dickson. And the firm's diverse projects only benefit.
For this $5 million project, Bailey Edward chose AIA document B101™–2007, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect, which covers five basic project phases — schematic design, design development, construction documents, bidding or negotiation, and construction — with the option of an additional services list. Used in conjunction with document A201™–2007, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, the duties of the project architect, contractor, and owner are spelled out.
"B101 has enough detail to cover a larger project," said Dickson, referring to the Ismaili Jamatkhana project. "We had a lot of civil engineering and landscape design that needed to be done, as well as all the interior furniture furnishings and equipment. The A201 reference helps the architect have some latitude, with his drawings as intent. There will be some discussion."
This project — an outlet building in a shopping mall complex — involved an owner and a consultant he hired. It required document B101™–2007 along with a C401™–2007, Standard Form of Agreement Between Architect and Consultant to delineate rules for each party. Particularly as a means of coordination between the firm's civil engineer and the developer's engineers, the documents established a framework that would assure proper land use and traffic circulation on the site.
"The Peoples Bank was being built from the cornfield up." Dickson said. "It is set up in a newly burgeoning community and was going to be a real landmark for people. We were able to use the documents to really define what the project was and how to coordinate with the developer and the work around it."
AIA Contract Documents streamline all stages of the architectural process, Dickson said. “That’s what I like about the them. Their clarity is important at any bumps in the road."
With building projects ranging from local banks to hospital complexes, firms across the country have benefitted from the documents' ease and convenience, and have the client satisfaction to prove it. Here are a few other projects that have relied on AIA Contract Documents to establish legal guidelines.
AIA Contract Document used: A232™–2009, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, Construction Manager as Adviser Edition
In a three-year collaboration between Eckles Architecture and PJ Dick, Inc., the owner's construction management company, Pine-Richland High School was updated and expanded to benefit its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) program. A new two-story wing houses technology-outfitted labs and classrooms. A roof garden provides educational opportunities for students and offers environmental benefits, since it absorbs rainwater and releases oxygen.
Froedtert Hospital and Community Health Clinical Cancer Center, Cannon Design, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
AIA Contract Document used: B141™–1997, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect with Standard Form of Architect's Services*
The expansion of this cancer treatment center allowed for more seamless links between wards for patients requiring a variety of treatments. Efficiency in patient care is enhanced in this seven-story complex, which houses radiation oncology, hematology, medical oncology, clinics, clinical research, faculty offices, and patient and family support areas. Featuring a large glass atrium, the firm's design emphasizes views of the site's surrounding wetlands.