Center for architecture and design


Project Summary:

Our project was a small commercial tenant improvement project consisting of 2,400 square feet in a department store building that had been renovated as a LEED Gold-certified Core and Shell pilot project into government office space and cultural amenities. The space is leased by the Columbus Architecture Foundation d/b/a the Center for Architecture and Design, which sub-leases space to the Columbus Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The improvements were designed by our Facilities Committee, chaired by Andrew Rosenthal, AIA, whose firm, Gieseke Rosenthal Architecture + Design, LLC, produced our construction documents on a pro-bono basis. The project is located on the ground floor of the historic Lazarus Government Center at 50 West Town Street in Columbus, Ohio. Ideally situated in the heart of downtown Columbus on the street connecting two jewels in the city’s park system, Columbus Commons and the Scioto Mile, and adjacent to the OSU Urban Arts Space, the vision for the Center for Architecture and Design is to be THE place for the exchange of ideas focused on the built environment and design in Central Ohio.

AIA Contract Document used on the project:

For the convenience of buying one form, I used the A105™ – 2007 Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Contractor for a Residential or Small Commercial Project, and was able to draft the Contract in an afternoon. The cost was so reasonable I donated the purchase price to the foundation.

1. What made you decide that using AIA Contract Documents was important for your business?

Our organization, the Columbus Architecture Foundation, was created by the members of the Columbus Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1974. The Chapter has been a distributer of AIA Contract Documents as long as anyone can remember. It seemed obvious that we use an AIA Contract for our small tenant improvement project. Anything less would be unacceptable and criticized from every angle. After one of our trustees, an attorney, suggested we needed stronger language than signing the contractor’s proposal, we turned to AIA Contract Documents.

2. How has using AIA Contract Documents benefited you and/or your business?

Even though we were developing a small project by anyone’s standards, we had little room for error due to the involvement of multiple stakeholders including the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation who was our landlord and financed approximately half the cost through our tenant improvement allowance, AIA Columbus and its board of directors who would become our sub-lessee and partner, their 600 plus members and affiliates who are experts in design and construction administration, the numerous donors of cash and in-kind contributions generated by the outstanding efforts of our Development Committee, and the twenty foundation trustees who represent the chapter and various design disciplines. We wanted to ensure our contract had provisions for management of problems to allow us to administer our project successfully, and avoid second guessing from our constituents.

3. Is there any time in particular that you were relieved that you were covered by a thorough legal contract?

We never had that crisis moment with this project. We had a talented and ethical contractor so problems were minimal, but we proceeded with the confidence that we were protected by a great agreement. The contractor presented us with his letterhead proposal agreement, which made us uneasy. Not that anything was wrong with that approach, but having legal parameters that have been carefully defined gave us the ability to sleep better at night.

4. Why would you recommend other Architects/Contractors/Designers use these documents?

In my professional work, I have the opportunity to address large groups of construction attorneys and occasionally ask what form of contract they start with for their clients’ projects. With few exceptions, they tell me they’re most comfortable starting with AIA Contracts. When I was State Architect and we faced implementation of new project delivery methods, my initial recommendation to get us out of the gate quickly was to begin with AIA’s standard contracts and add our statutory requirements to them. In the end we filed rules to allow their use by our political subdivisions. Everyone understands what’s in an AIA Contract and it provides a fair basis for the bargain.

5. Is there anything else you’d like to add regarding contract documents?

I recently discovered the “Help Me Select an AIA Template” tool on the AIA Contract Documents web page. What a great way to narrow down the choice of which document to use for a specific application through a short series of questions and answers. This really helps find the right template quickly and easily. Everyone I’ve shared it with has been impressed by its elegant simplicity. Nicely done!