Using Good Contracts to Build Good Projects

About KGD Architecture

KGD Architecture is an award-winning, full-service design firm with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and offices around the world. KGD has received accolades for design excellence and environmental stewardship for its work addressing the pressing needs of communities throughout the world. The firm brings diverse perspectives to complex projects, creating spaces that articulate client’s values, history, brand, and culture.

“The digital aspects of the solutions offered by AIA Contracts are fantastic. More importantly, the contracts are vehicles that perfectly align with our profession.”


For decades, KGD Architecture has been a staple in the architectural community. Widely recognized for its innovative craftsmanship, attention to detail, and imaginative designs, their work speaks volumes about the firm’s level of expertise.

They’ve been a success, and a large part of their success is their ability to be fluid and morph with the changing demands of the industry and the customers that comprise it. But while so much has changed, one thing remains constant: Their relationship with AIA Contract Documents (ACD). “We’ve used ACD since day 1, and I can’t imagine or understand why any professional in our industry wouldn’t use them,” said Tom Donaghy, Principal and Owner of KGD Architecture.

The Go-To Contracts

The KGD Architecture portfolio is broad in scope and scale with a footprint that can be seen here at home and throughout the globe in international hotspots that include the UAE, Australia, and India. In each domestic location, their signature brand that combines quality and creativity is unmistakable. When it comes to domestic projects, KGD relies on what has become their go-to contracts: the B-103 and B-107 from ACD. “Over the course of our existence we’ve used those two documents religiously and to date, they’ve never let us down.”

“What I’ve always noticed is that the ACD contracts are balanced and fair along the three-legged stool of development that includes architect, contractor, and developer.”

Trusting the Contract

Contracts are the foundation for any construction transaction. In so many instances before a project begins in earnest, parties will rip a contract apart looking to make sure the instrument is fair, impartial, and positions them for success. “When it comes to contracts from ACD, that never happens. Plain and simple, they get it, and their contracts are durable and provide a level of trust that allows everyone to walk away and do what they do best.”

What Donaghy does best is create a vision for the organization he founded. This means strategically procuring projects and being part of the management process from inception all the way through completion. “One of the first tools a student gets introduced to in architectural school is a contract from ACD. The documents walk with us through every phase of our learning process to the point where it’s literally unimaginable to not be able to see the value the documents bring as we enter our professional lives.”

“Scope creep can derail a project but the strength of ACD contracts and the way they’re written has always protected us from having to deal with this challenge.”

Dollars and Good Business Sense

Profits in construction can be fragile spaces as so many variables are woven into the financial equation. The slightest deviation or missed calculation can turn what had the makings of a lucrative opportunity into one wrought with losses. According to Donaghy, when it comes to the subject of profitability, the role of a contract can’t be overemphasized. “There are so many protections you can realize from a good contract, including financial protections. A sound contract allows you to put a dollar value to every facet of a build while yielding realistic profit projections.”

Relationship Builders

Relationships matter in business, including those built in the worlds of construction and architecture. Ask any leader, and they’ll tell you that creating the right relationships that can pour, guide, and nurture opportunities is one of the most valued assets in their arsenal. Those leaders are likely to tell you that building that arm of the operation took effort, and more than likely, they’ll tell you it began with a contract.

Since opening the doors of KGD Architecture, Donaghy has forged many professional relationships while working on myriad projects, but he’s only used one contract provider. “We use ACD contracts right out of the box. This is important to note because, with the size and scope of the work we’re involved in, we need to show integrity, gain trust, and build and maintain project momentum. Any re-writing or manipulation of the contract can stifle those processes. With ACD, the re-writing and manipulation are never an issue, so we remain committed to these instruments being a part of our toolkit. They’ve helped us build relationships that drive our business, and mirror the ideals we were founded upon, all while positioning us for lasting success.”