acting as architect of record


Hi all.

As some of you know, I have a small firm. Projects are precious and I say yes to everything and give it the best design twist I can. 

With that said, I received a call today from an out of state architect who has a project in my state. They have taken the project to DD and need an architect of record to complete the project. 

I have read through the AIA B172 which is an agreement between the owner and architect of record. 

Can someone who has experience acting as arch of record advise me as towards:

1) best form of agreement to use?

2) who my client should be - owner, design architect or both? The B172 implies that it's always the owner, but since I've been contacted by the design architect....

3) How to divide labor between my firm and the design architect during CD. I could toe the line and do everything myself, or give them some of the work (such as interiors and product selection). Given that I'm a very small firm, NOT doing all the work sounds enticing, but I know I need to be responsible for the CD's. I think I could pawn off an "interiors package" to them however. 

4) anything else I need to look out for? 

Feb 17, 14 10:12 pm

2. You have liability to the owner and should have a contract with them. Also should make it easier to control the project and get paid. Your work will continue long after the designer is gone and you don't need (and the owner shouldn't pay for) them to administer your contract. Contracts should be transparent to all parties.

3. Largely influenced by liability. So even if you don't draw it you must have final approval over it. Aside from the fact that you don't want anything issued for construction without your knowledge. Beyond that it's a question about your time. Work is work, and you could break it out as a separate service to cover your ass if the designer buries you in details and changes.

Feb 17, 14 11:13 pm  · 

I've sat on both sides of that table.

The contract has always been between the architects.  One is a consultant.  The reason for this has more to do with respecting who's client it is.  The consulting architect has little to no contact with the main client to avoid pilfering. 

So for me, it'd be something like a national chain.  (I did gas stations... don't laugh; Good bread and butter).  Essentially, these are paste/clip jobs and site adaptation.  But I needed someone local who knew the region, local contractors, local engineers.  Basically, my job was on the 'branding' side of the design and corporate contact.  His job would be the local contact stuff.  We'd work together through DD and I'd give him the standard CD package.  He'd modify it to meet local stuff and coordinate the local engineers.  He'd stamp and submit and handle the CA.  Obviously my job wasn't as large as his, so the fee reflected this.  However, I would be running 10-20 of these nationwide at any given time while the corporation expanded and went through image upgrade programs.  Essentially, think of me as a experienced client who won't need that hand-holding or to be educated on how construction works.  Easy job for you too... 

Feb 19, 14 10:57 am  · 
Thanks guys. My main problem is that my "client" is an architect hired after the design arch was done w SD and DD. the client wants to do CD with my review, which is not enough for me. Probably going to decline the project.
Feb 19, 14 11:07 am  · 

Three architects? LOL Maybe I'm missing something but it doesn't pass the smell test.

Feb 19, 14 11:23 am  · 
Non Sequitur

Gruen, our office had a similar project come up last month. A large US retailer is slotted to move into a flagship location in my area and their NY architect's office wanted to use us as the local "record" architects. Essentially, they wanted our stamp on their drawings. Our firm's president contacted another architect who had previously done a similar blind-stamp job and quickly realized that such practice is in-fact illegal in our jurisdiction (Ontario). We can take another's design drawings and turn them into our own CDs, but what the client expected of us was nowhere near this level of work. So, little CA work for some jingle but all the legal responsibilities. We declined the project instantly.

Feb 19, 14 11:33 am  · 

A large US retailer is slotted to move into a flagship location in my area and their NY architect's office wanted to use us as the local "record" architects

Your firm made the wise move by doing your homework.  Can't help but wonder why the NY architects doing work for a "large retailer" wouldn't go through the hoops of just getting licensed themselves in your jurisdiction.

Feb 19, 14 12:02 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

geezer, I think the NY guys were not actually architects.

Feb 19, 14 12:31 pm  · 

Wow, that's even more interesting!  Non-architects doing out of country work without a license.  Glad you dodged that bullet.

Feb 19, 14 2:02 pm  · 

With my corporate stuff, I was wedged firmly in-between the corporate design team (another national architecture firm).  The national firm pro-types the conceptual nature; but it isn't 'one type fits all'.  Branding so your McDonalds in Boise looks just like the one in Pheonix... makes you all warm and fuzzy knowing what to expect eh?  Bleh...

Dull it is.  Paste and clip.  Illegal?  Not really.  It's basically a lego set of prefabricated pieces of specific stuff that's usually identifcal; Alucobond fascia in Texaco red of particular dimensions, US Aluminium storefront 2 facades of a certain size, so and so's particular cladding system.  Every color and supplier is hard-spec'd. Then there's design stuff like car wash configuration "B".  Display area "5" (larger sized with slurpy dispenser) and 24' of so and so's coolers.  That's handed down from the corporate numbers guys who did 'market research' to figure out projected sales. 

The details provided are all finish and millwork.  Local guy coordinates the structure it's all attached to.  Might have to 'nix' something or add something that's done regionally; Like upgraded mechanical and freeze protection for that car wash since Miami is different than Seattle.  These aren't portfolio jobs, but pay and collecting it isn't ever a problem. 

Want really dull?  I did a few thousand cellular sites nation wide.  Total paste and clip because every little thing is prefabbed and assembled on site and being non-occupied, nothing changed from region to region.  Monopole, equipment boxes, unistrut cable trays...  The hard part is planning and zoning; That's where the local guy comes in who has that relationship.  Nobody wants a tower, but everyone wants cell phone service.... (which is line of sight and spaced about 1/2 a mile apart...).  That means tons of these.

It's not 'proud work'.... Just lucrative so you can take on something fun without worrying too much about being profitable.

Feb 19, 14 2:34 pm  · 

We have done lots of work like this over the years, generally for retailers.  We have always contracted with out-of-state architect directly and acted as AOR and consultant.  Essentially, they do all the drawing and we review for code compliance and help facilitate getting the permit (specifically in the city of Chicago through the self-cert program).  These projects are actually pretty helpful in regards to income to the firm; not a lot of time investment on drawing, almost all of it is just reviewing and formalizing comments on the drawings and making sure the designers make the necessary revisions.  I can't think of a time where we have had an issue with it from our E&O insurance carrier.

Feb 19, 14 5:26 pm  · 
Update: other arch has realized that they won't make any money if I do the CDs and I'm not able to be arch of record if I don't do CDs. End of story, end of any liability concerns.
Feb 21, 14 6:30 pm  · 

With three architects I figured it would come down to that eventually. LOL

Feb 21, 14 6:36 pm  · 
Saint in the City

Most offices seem to give the architect of record role a whirl.  Frankly, Gruen, I'm just not a fan of the role.  I was in an office that was architect of record on a Gehry project.  I've also done some "dirtier" jobs than those listed above.  Actually, the day-to-day work done in the office on the Gehry job wasn't  substantially different from the work done in the office on the Dirty Jobs.  

Mightyaa is technically right in that these jobs can bring in some money, but I can't say I've seen them lead to much.  Seems like the architect of record ends up as nothing more than the draftsman.  They should call it "draftsman of record".  Or maybe "anonymous task mule".  

Feb 21, 14 9:33 pm  · 

I was just offered two unrelated projects by two unrelated developers, to be AOR on their projects. One is a commercial shell project at SD by a Design-Build, and one is a multi-unit residential at DD by a non-licensed Designer (though the drawings contain copyright legalese). Both may contain DD work. Is there a recommended way for me to verify/ask/require proof that the Design Architects (or non-licensed designer) have authorized or released their documents to the client? I don’t want to end up in a lawsuit from the Design Architect in the event the developer misrepresents their rights to the design and documents shared with me. 


Jan 18, 21 3:56 am  · 

You could, however normal AOR contract language puts the responsibility for obtaining any rights related to predecessor designs/documents on the Owner. Take a look at AIA Agreement B172 - in any collaborative arrangement you need to use a well vetted contract form that clearly outlines responsibilities/obligations for all parties.

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