What Are Design Standards and How Are They Used in Your Project?

By AIA Contract Documents

August 30, 2023

Design standards are used to ensure that a project is completed with the function, performance, and quality standards that are shared throughout a multiple-project program. Design standards provide a functional, aesthetic, and quality framework including:

  1. planning criteria (equipment, technical services, and other functional space requirements);
  2. specifications and performance requirements for materials, systems, and components;
  3. typical design details of selected conditions; and
  4. procurement, contracting, and general requirements.

The design standards are relied on by various project participants and stakeholders to ensure consistency throughout every phase of the project. The design standards are used as guidelines to make informed decisions on the design and to ensure that the project meets the requirements of each project in the program. For example, mechanical and electrical engineers may refer to the design standards to ensure that the HVAC and electrical systems are the same as the existing. If the systems cannot be the same, mechanical and electrical engineers can use the design standards to ensure that the systems are, at the very least, compatible with each other. If the building is renovated in the future, the design standards can also provide a baseline for consistency.

Throughout the project, design standards play a vital role in ensuring that the building functions in a manner that is consistent with other buildings in a program. They facilitate collaboration among architects, engineers, contractors, and other project stakeholders.

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.