By Mike Koger, AIA, Esq., Senior Director and Counsel, AIA Contract Documents
May 12, 2022
There are several reasons why two architects might provide services on a project. While not a comprehensive list, a few possible scenarios are summarized as follows:
(1) Expertise and Specialization
An owner may retain two architects on a project due to the expertise brought to the project by one or both architects. For example, in a project involving the design of a biomedical facility, one architect may specialize in the design of laboratory spaces, while the other is a generalist who designs the overall building. The architecture profession has experienced a shift toward specialization and, as this trend continues, owners may find it preferable to assemble design teams based on areas of expertise.
(2) Name Recognition
An owner may want to hire an architect who brings name recognition and prestige to a project. In such scenarios, it is common for this “star” architect to be the Design Architect and perform the conceptual design for the project, then have an Architect of Record provide the construction documents and construction phase services.
Retaining two architects on a project might be desirable due to the location and staffing of one or both architects. During construction, an architect is expected to visit the jobsite on a regular basis to become familiar with the progress and quality of the work and to evaluate contractor’s applications for payment. An owner may want these construction phase services to be performed by an Architect of Record who has a local presence near the jobsite to facilitate efficient and cost-effective visits. A local architect is also likely to be more familiar with the entitlement, zoning, and permitting aspects of the jurisdiction where the project is located. Owners may also want to retain a local architect due to a desire or requirement to procure local services. An owner may want the design capabilities of one architect but need the local presence of a second architect to address these practical needs.
(4) Bandwidth and Efficiency
Some projects may be too large or labor intensive for one architecture firm to accomplish alone. For this reason, two firms may pair up to provide services for a project that neither would be able to accommodate on their own. Furthermore, government contracts often require a certain portion of the work to be performed by small or disadvantaged businesses, thus providing another reason two firms might work together on a project.
(5) Request for Proposals
Collaborations between architecture firms are sometimes proposed in response to a request for proposal, particularly if the two firms believe their proposal would be better received by the owner due to the proposed collaboration between firms.
In the spring of 2022, AIA Contract Documents published a new set of standard contracts to address the relationships and issues that occur when two architects provide professional services on a project. The documents that make up this set are as follows:
AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.