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January 8, 2014

Architects and the construction cycle

Procurement Perspectives | Stephen Bauld

The construction industry requires many different players to run efficiently. Most non-construction people, no doubt, assume that the role of an architect is directed primarily, if not exclusively, to the design of new buildings and the spaces in and around them, as well as helping with the restoration and reuse of old, listed or existing buildings.

However, architects are often involved in a project from start to finish.

Their role does not end with drawing up the plans to be submitted for planning and building permission.

They also work closely with other professionals involved in the execution of the project, such as quantity surveyors, contractors and subcontractors, engineers and landscape architects.

The municipality’s architect (or other design professionals) may also be responsible for a number of managerial functions associated with project execution.

Stephen Bauld

Procurement Perspectives

Stephen Bauld

Finally, the architect will also carry out site inspections to assume the related responsibilities of a payment certifier.

Potentially, there are four distinct phases in which an architect may be engaged by a municipality in relation to the execution of a given project. They are:

Initiation: The architect establishes the client’s needs, expectations, project requirements and budget. This information is collected to prepare a written document called the design brief.

Design Phase: The architect analyses the design brief, site conditions, features and constraints and determines the best location and orientation. The architect begins to develop ideas through rough plans, sketches and models. These ideas are brought together into concept drawings that satisfy all planning, aesthetic and resource management requirements.

Design Development, Documentation and Building Consent: The architect compares the concept design drawings with the design brief and develops the technical detail for the project with the project team. Detailed drawings and specifications are prepared to enable the builder to construct the project. The drawings are lodged to obtain local authority building consent. The method of engaging a builder for the project is determined.

Implementation/Construction: The architect works with the builder and other project team members to ensure the project is constructed in accordance with the drawings and specifications.

In a typical design-bid-build arrangement, the architect (or other design professional) will provide advice on the best ways in which to implement the municipality’s plans within the constraints set by budget constraints, as well as concerning building regulations and planning permission.

The goal is to convert the municipality’s capital facility requirements into a financially viable and technically feasible buildable solution. The stage in the process is sometimes referred to as the production of the project brief.

The project brief will usually cover such matters as the building type, the critical features of the project, including such matters as the number, style, size and spatial planning of rooms, and the adjacencies of various activities within the building to each other.

Other critical aspects of the project brief include the general total project budget (i.e., the target price, as opposed to the detailed workout of the price, which is produced later), the time line for completion, site requirements (and, if a site has been selected, the site details), the construction method and technology to be employed, and special features that the project is to possess. A final area of concern is the blend of the project into its surroundings, so the project brief will need to deal with such matters as pedestrian and vehicular flow, parking requirements, public areas and landscaping.

In assembling this information, the architect is not simply expected to passively record the instructions given.

As a design professional, it is the role of the architect “to create total environments, both interiors and exteriors, that are functional and exciting places in which to work and live.”

Stephen Bauld is Canada's leading expert on government procurement. He can be reached at stephenbauld@bell.blackberry.net.

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