Project Procurement

Architectural projects can be secured through various methods depending on the type of project, client preferences, and local regulations. Each jurisdiction sets their own process to procure architectural services – here are some of the most common:

  1. Traditional Design-Bid-Build: In this method, the client hires an architect to develop the design and prepare construction documents. Once the design is complete, the project is typically put out to bid, and contractors submit their bids to construct the project based on the architect’s plans and specifications. The client then selects a contractor based on the bidding process.
  2. Design-Build: In design-build procurement, the client contracts with a single entity known as the design-build team, which includes both the architect and the contractor/construction firm. This integrated team takes responsibility for both the design and construction phases of the project. Design-build can streamline the project timeline and foster collaboration between the architect and contractor.
  3. Construction Management (CM): In this approach, the client hires a construction manager early in the project, often during the design phase. The construction manager works closely with the architect and advises on constructability, budget, and scheduling. The construction manager then manages the procurement of trade contractors based on the architect’s plans, often using a competitive bidding process.
  4. Public or Private Tendering: For public projects, the procurement process typically involves a formal competitive bidding process. The client, such as a government agency, publishes a request for proposals (RFP) or invites contractors to bid on the project based on the architect’s design. The bids are evaluated, and the contract is awarded to the selected contractor. Private projects may also use a similar tendering process. 

Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) is a procurement method used in California and many other jurisdictions to select professional services providers, including architects, based on their qualifications and expertise rather than solely on price. QBS aims to ensure that professional service contracts are awarded to firms that are the most qualified and capable of delivering the desired outcomes.

It’s important to note that specific requirements and procedures may vary between different California agencies and projects. Architects and firms interested in participating in QBS processes should review the specific RFQs and guidelines provided by the procuring entity to understand the details and requirements of the selection process.

  1. Negotiated Contracts: In some cases, architectural projects are procured through direct negotiation between the client and the architect or architecture firm. This method is more common for smaller-scale or specialized projects where the client has a pre-existing relationship with the architect or firm and there is no need for a competitive bidding process.
  1. Design Competitions: Design competitions are organized to select the most innovative and suitable design proposal for a project. Architects and design teams submit their concepts, and a jury evaluates the submissions based on specified criteria. The winning design is then selected to move forward with development. (note: AIA California actively advocates for compensation for design teams participating in competitions. If you are interested in competing for a project using this model

The procurement of architectural services varies widely and it’s important to note that each jurisdiction may have specific regulations and practices governing their practices. Additionally, some clients may have their own preferred methods or variations of these procurement approaches. Successful procurement relies on an architect’s familiarity with the variety of methods relevant to their location and adaptation of their approach.

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