To Protect and Preserve

About ESa

ESa serves clients in the education, healthcare, hospitality, corporate office, residential, community arts, and senior living markets. Founded in 1961 and based in Nashville, Tennessee, the firm provides design services in architecture, interior architecture, master planning, and space planning, creating environments that shape lives.

“Before we broke ground on the campus of Moravian University, our team made sure we were protected by AIA Contract Documents.”


Contracts are complex documents with separate layers, often ambiguous language, and diverse parameters; all meant to come together and yield a positive result. Schedules, payments, duties, and scope of work are the items that come to mind when thinking of a contract. But one critical function of this necessary document sometimes gets overlooked: they’re protectors. That’s right, contracts are protectors that give the parties the freedoms they need to perform at high levels.  

Aside from the resources needed to build a structure, protection is the most critical piece of the construction equation. Some say the feeling of protection on a site is the most vital component of the puzzle, especially with complex projects. “On the surface, the Moravian University project looked rather simple, but the fact that we were working for the contractor instead of the owner changed that narrative,” stressed Tara Myers, Risk Manager and Principal for Esa. “Using AIA Contract Documents, (ACD), we found the document we needed, and upon execution, we comfortably walked away and did what we do best: design high-performing structures.”

New Beginnings

In 2017, Moravian University opened the doors of the Sally Breidegam Miksiewicz Center for Health Sciences. Located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and designed by Esa, the 55,000-square-foot state-of-the-art building has been a welcome addition to one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the North. Founded in 1742, Moravian provides students with the ideal mix of personal attention, leading-edge methodologies, and the practical life skills they need to succeed in their chosen career path. “For this project, we worked for the contractor, not the owner. This dynamic was ideal for using the Design-Build method family of documents. The terms set forth by the contract we found at ACD allowed us to move forward and ultimately, deliver the desired result.”

“As a Risk Manager, I look specifically at the language of the contract and how it’s structured. With AIA Documents, I always feel they’re crafted to fit the needs of the entire project.”

The Industry Standard

For Esa, their protectors of choice for this project included the B143-Design Builder/Architect, the C401-Architect/Consultant, the E201-Digital Data Protocol Exhibit, and an assortment of associated administrative G-forms. The B143 is a powerful document establishing the contractual arrangement between the Design-Builder and the Architect. The C401 is the standard form of agreement between the Architect and consultant providing services, and the E201 is used when models are shared among project participants. “AIA Contract Documents are the unquestioned industry standard, and this trio of documents gave us unparalleled support and the foundation we needed to move forward.”

“The contracts we chose fit our needs perfectly and allowed our team to seamlessly navigate the complexities of this collaborative initiative.”

Maintaining Brand Integrity

At any stage of a construction project, beginning, middle, end, or in between, the integrity of each participating brand is at stake. Profit margins, revenues, future opportunities, and many other variables are on the line whenever a party signs the dotted line. The part that often needs to be factored into the mix is how performance impacts brand integrity. Visionaries like Myers understand that, beyond all else, a premium must be placed on preserving the integrity of the brand, something Myers is acutely aware of. “How we operate within the construct of the project, and our adherence to the directives in the contract, is just as important to the brand we represent as the finished structure we deliver.”

Brand equity preservation is a long-term strategy with a level of importance that some firms mistakenly minimize or dismiss altogether. Construction is one of the pillars of the global economy, but trust is the lifeline. Customers like Moravia University, who can trust construction professionals, are more apt to award them their business, and contracts are a large part of this decision. “We’re only as good as our word and having a strong contract behind us helps us make good on our word, build trust in our brand, and at the same time, continue championing the needs of our customers through innovative design.”