Firm management

Understand AIA’s updated Programming Scope of Services document

By AIA Contract Documents

Architectural programming involves research and decision making that helps the architect and owner establish performance requirements and design criteria for the project. Programming can range broadly from identifying the project’s goals and objectives to particular elements, such as the precise characteristics of a space. It is an essential first step before the design phase and a critical communication tool throughout the project. A program guides participants from concept to construction documentation. The architect typically starts with a general draft at the beginning of the project, then expands and edits it into a final document.

Programming can be time-intensive, costly, and varies with each owner and project. As such, it is not easy to estimate these fees upfront to include in the architect’s basic services. On some projects, the owner may engage one architect for programming services and use that program to solicit a different architect for design services. On other projects, the owner may want the design architect to include programming as part of its design services.

Watch the AIA Contract Documents’ video series as we dive into the details on industry practice approach in architectural programming and more! Watch Now >

AIA document helps architects and owners define programming

The recently revised B202™-2020, Standard Form of Architect’s Services: Programming is not a stand-alone document, but pairs with the B102™-2017 Standard Form of Agreement between Owner and Architect without a Predefined Scope of Architect’s Services. However, architects could also pair B202 with other AIA owner/architect agreements to satisfy provisions requesting the owner’s program for the project.

The revised B202 expands the initial information section to allow the parties to:

  • describe the scope of programming services for the project;
  • identify the owner’s sustainable objective;
  • name the consultants and contractors who will affect programming services; and
  • stipulate the owner’s budget and schedule for the project.

Of the many changes made, the updated B202 entails identifying, discussing, and prioritizing values, goals, and objectives to establish performance and design criteria for the project. Subsequent steps include gathering project-related information, analyzing data, and developing program documents for the project. B202 is also set up for architects to present an initial program document and a final program document. Additionally, the document incorporates terminology from the 2017 owner/architect agreements.

The final program document: a book of information

The result of an architect’s programming services is a written document called a “Program.” The architect uses this information to develop the design for the project. It includes elements such as:

  • An executive summary
  • The vision, goals, values, and objectives
  • Key strategies to achieve the vision
  • Sustainability and wellness goals
  • A description of the programming process
  • Jurisdictional requirements
  • Facility standards
  • Detailed documentation of activities, capacities, spatial needs, use of existing facilities, flexibility and growth, and adjacencies between program elements; and specific requirements such as structural, mechanical, electrical, and access
  • Adjacency, flow, and process diagrams
  • Photography
  • Sketches
  • Bubble diagrams to specific plans showing how the requirements translate into physical form
  • Schedules showing area requirements
  • Appendices that can serve as useful references

To learn more about architectural programming, be sure to watch the full AIA Contract Document video series as Mike Koger, AIA, Esq., Director & Counsel at AIA Contract Documents, Wolf Saar, FAIA LEED AP, Managing Principal and Owner at VIA Architecture, and Colleen Telling, Esq., Manager and Counsel at AIA Contract Documents explore the advantages and disadvantages of different project approaches, compensation, and how the newly revised B202 provides a clear roadmap.