Architectural Fee based on Percentage of Construction Fee

To get quick sense how much hiring an architectural & engineering firm (A&E) costs, it is best to calculated A&E fee based on percentage of construction cost.

Construction cost for residential projects vary from 250$/sqft (dollar per square feet) to 350$/sqft for simple flat site or renovation project to 350$/sqft to 400$/sqft for hillside depending on complexity of foundation and number of piles or caisson. (Sometimes the construction cost is much more expensive for very steep hill with expansive soil) The reason for the range in construction cost (250$/sqft to 350$/sqft) is level of the finishes and construction means and methods. Clients sometimes want to spend more or less on their construction, but I always recommend to see where the building is located and based on the market value of the surrounding buildings spend more or less on materials of the exterior or the interior of the building. By considering the market value of the surrounding area, you have the option to sell your building quickly with the right price, otherwise you are risking selling your building in much more longer period of time, or selling your building in a lower price.

AIA Contract Documents’ Benefits

American Institute of Architects (AIA) has several categories of contract document that are interconnected, reference between difference discipline in the construction industry. These contract documents are written and revised by architects, contractors, material suppliers, investors/clients in the industry. Because of this, these documents are believed to be fair to all parties and it considers all legal aspect of the project. One of the main advantage of using these documents is that, it reduce both project cost and legal cost. The reason is that everyone in the industry know about these documents, and it is very well written by all representatives of the industry. Architects, Contractors, and investors know using these document reduce and manage their risk, and it is insurable. Ultimately these standard documents reduce the cost by removing inflated cost of risk, and unknowns.

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Building Cost and Other Categories

Besides the main building cost (building and site improvements), there are other cost in “project budget” including professional compensation, land costs, furnishings and equipment, financing, contingency allowances, impact fees, real estate agent/broker costs, sale tax, and other charges explained below.

For any project to be financially successful, there is a need for creation of development plan which require integrate process of defining and refining building program and drawings with financial model, marketing strategy, and feasibility study. In other words, this process could be done by comparing building program with project budget.

To better understand project budget, we could divide it into three separate categories; land Cost, hard costs and soft costs. Hard cost includes construction cost, furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E), final cleaning and stabilization, and construction contingency. Soft cost includes architecture and engineering (civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, lighting, security, communication), environmental, testing and inspection, permitting, accounting, insurances, legal, appraisal, & title, financing costs, imputed interest, marketing & leasing, impact fee (developer fee/linkage fee), and contingency.

These costs needs to be balanced with resources. These resources could come from pension fund equity, historic tax credits, income, green building tax credit, loan, and grants (energy and preservation grants in some areas).

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Spearin Gap

Spearin gap is the risk owner/client carry out based on when contractor comes to the project. These risk could be minimized or entirely eliminate based on project delivery selection. Although minimizing or eliminating spearin gap open up some door for other challenges such as increasing project costs (cost of construction manger), or changing architect relationship from “agent,” keeping owner interest, to a separate entity, “design-builder”.

The Spearin gap risk is higher in traditional project delivery method, “design-bid-build” (DBB), and it reduces in “construction manager as a contractor” (CMc), and entirely eliminated in “design-build” (DB). Please note that “construction manager as an advisor” (CMa) is not separate project delivery method and it could be incorporated in any project delivery method. The elimination of spearin gap should not be the main factor on deciding project delivery method. The main factor should be client objective such as project budget, schedule, and level of proficiency of client to answer or provide feedback to the team.

Where the risk come from?

The “Spearin Gap” term comes from historic supreme court case called “United States v. Spearin” where the court ruled “if the contractor is bound to build according to plans and specifications prepared by the owner, the contractor will not be responsible for the consequences of defects in the plans and specifications.” The ruling is dating back to 1918, more than a century ago, and create a obligation that by providing plans and specification (prepared by an architect) to a contractor, it also warranty that the plans and specification is free of defects and sufficient for the contractor to bid and build the project.

But in many different contracts such as AIA document B101, it talks about “standard of care” which states that the architect “shall perform its services consistent with the professional skill and care ordinarily provided by architects practicing in the same or similar locality under the same or similar circumstances.” This statement doesn’t require defect free documents from the architect. The difference between defect-free document and standard of care is spearin gap.

The reason for “standard of care” statement in contract document is to create standard bar to judge the performance of architecture services by comparing the architects with their colleagues, and allow this risk to be insurable by insurance company. Removing this statement, “standard of care”, render architect insurance void, removing professional liability insurance (complementary to contractor general liability insurance), putting a side any bar for judgment, and ultimately raising the price of architecture services for the architect to be self-insure. 

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Vertical Garden in Contemporary High Density Urban City

Location: Hong Kong, China
Team Members: Pouya Goshayeshi, Joanna Lam

This pavilion is trying to create a connection between high density tall urban city and vertical gardens by celebrating green architecture.

The public opinion on high density urban city is wrongly related to lack of green spaces. Public believe good living environment is outside of dense urban city where this utopia reside in country side. It’s been over two decades that contemporary vertical gardens show its face in exterior and interior of the buildings using felt system, panelized living wall, or module living pods. These living green system raised questions what is the bio-diversity effect on human health in different ways. The studies show not only they have a positive effect on replenishing oxygen; also the green wall reduce urban heat island effect, provide better wall isolation that reduce energy consumption, and have positive psychological effect on people. This pavilion wants to shift public opinion and embed a new idea where community should take initiatives to create green space in our vertical urban city and open up a discussion about the effect of vertical garden in everyone life.

Lamborghini Road Monument

Italy, Sant’ Agata Bolognese
Team Members: Pouya Goshayeshi, Seregin Dmitry

The philosophy of performance and fluent design of Lamborghini model become an essence of this design where form finding is based on forces to increase the surface performance. The frame work is defined by series of ring in one of the installation and in other one with a continuous self-intersecting ring. The form finding was based on series of simulation where stability is the main concern. In the simulation, the surfaces are connected to the rings in different locations, and put under tensile spring engine in Catia model. After several simulation and continuous observation, the surface with the best performance was the one where at each given point on the surfaces there are two difference forces in opposite direction that cancel each other. In other word, the minimal surface stretched between the rings create most stable and strongest surface with best performance compare to other type of surfaces.

The design surfaces curvature was ideal to create a fluent design that wrap around continuous rings. In one installation, the surface is a family of Riemann minimal surfaces, in the other one is family of Mobius surface. To emphasis on the simulation frame work (boundary of forces), linear LED light is integrated into ring pipe structure. When the cars are in the motion around the roundabout, they will feel the continuity and linearity of the design.

The surfaces finishes are recyclable high-tenacity polyester that is produced in factories such as TENARA® and Spectra®. The carbon footprint of the transportation will be low because of using light weight material that can be easily fit into small containers. The installation life-cycle carbon footprint will be low because of lightweight transportation, easy installation with minimal force and people, occasional maintenance, and recyclable disposal for installation. As a result, this design reach desire performance, fluidity, and high sustainability criteria set by our design team.

Eco Marine Park

Baku, Azerbaijan
Team members: Pouya Goshayeshi, Daniel Innocente, Steven Park Chaffer, Bing Zhao

Located along the Caspian Sea on Baku’s industrial coastal zone, the Marine Wetlands Ecological Park envisions a new approach to urbanism for the entire country and region. A synthesis between energy systems, natural restoration and environmentally focused urbanism. As Azerbaijan’s largest and fastest growing city, Baku has the potential to lead as symbol for the future of ecological and urban economies. Baku has seen the effects that energy and resource production can have on the natural environment and society. With the city having a deep rooted history in oil energy production and agriculture, its ability to thrive will depend highly on establishing a new infrastructure for energy use, urbanism and ecological systems.
The Caspian Sea including the Baku Bay has been devastated by the city’s dependence on oil industry, with leakages and under treated sewage disposal affecting the waters natural environment. The continued growth of Baku together with environmental concerns poses the challenge of treating infrastructure as a restorative mechanism rather than one which only accommodates growth. Taking advantage of the marine zones natural environment and restorative mechanisms with continuous treatment strategies will provide the city with a renewed and richer experience of natural space. Treatment strategies including constructed wetlands and water treatment will enable the coastline to create a sustained ecosystem that is self-regulating and maintaining. Achieving a natural balance of energy and life which will produce spaces of value for sustainable urbanism and public venues. The proposal includes an interwoven network of programs which celebrate the renewal of natural ecosystems, connected by public circulation and a variety of natural zones. Each renewed zone is articulated through public programs which brings the city to the water’s edge along the continuous experience which will be Baku’s Marine Wetlands Ecological Park.