Building types, time schedules, building attitudes, and legal and economic conditions affect relations with the four major client types for whom an architect may provide services. These are known as the traditional, developer, turnkey, and design/ build client base.
Traditional client is usually an individual or organization building a one-time project with no in-house building expertise. The client, however, possesses the innate excitement for the process of witnessing the transformation of plans into the built environment and seeks an architect to assert control of the process. In most cases, this includes the architect’s definition of the client’s space needs, program and physical plant requirements. A more sophisticated traditional client might be a large corporation, university or other institutional entity that may or may not have an architect on staff, but still looks to a selected architect to guide the development process. In this case, the client may have more input into the client’s program definition based on the in-house capabilities. In both cases, the architect plays the lead role in the management process and normally provides programming, design, construction documents, bidding, and characteristic administration in the role of the traditional architect.
Developer client offers building process management that reduces some of the architect’s management role in managing the overall project and provides alternative methods for approaching design and construction. Development processes such as scope documentation, fast track, and bid packages are construction methodologies resulting from the developer client’s need to accelerate the total process due to fluctuating interest rates and the need to be first in providing space in the marketplace. Through this client base the acceptance of a construction consultant as a necessary part of the design team evolved. The construction consultant enables accelerated schedules to be met, provides for the compression of time, and allows a contractor to be selected by the client to build while the architect is still designing.
Turnkey client is interchangeable with the design/build client in concept. Both are based on a complete project being turned over to the owner by a single entity that is responsible for designing and constructing the project. The owner has little input in the process until it is turned over. The turnkey developer or contractor employs the services of an architect, or has an on-staff registered architect, who designs the project in accordance with the owner’s program requirements. Bids are usually taken on turnkey developer designs and cost proposals to meet these requirements. Once a turnkey developer is selected, the owner may sell the property to the developer or authorize its purchase from a third party under option. From this point forward the owner has little or no participation in the project; the developer is the turnkey client of an externally employed architect. The architect is then working on the developer team and is not an independent voice for the real owner. All decisions are then made by the turnkey developer relative to the architect’s services.
Design/build client also has the architect on the developer team and not performing services for the owner. Designers/builders offer to design and construct a facility for a fixed lump-sum price. They bid competitively to provide this service or provide free design services prior to commitment to the project and as a basis for negotiation. Their design work is not primarily aimed at cost-performance trade-offs, but at reduced cost for acceptable quality.
The design/build approach to facilities is best employed when the owner requires a relatively straightforward building and does not want to participate in detailed decision making regarding the various building systems and materials. This does not mean that the owner has no control over these items. On the contrary, the owner is often permitted a wide range of selection. But the range of choices is affected by the fixed-cost restraints imposed by the designer/builder and accepted by the owner. When the facilities required are within the range of relatively standard industry-wide prototypes, this restriction may have little significance.
A common misconception regarding design/build is that poor-quality work inevitably results. While there is a general benefit to the builder for reductions in material and labour costs, the more reputable designer/builder may be relied on to deliver a building within acceptable industry standards. Facilities where higher- quality systems, more sensitive design needs, or atypical technical requirements occur deserve the services of an independent design professional.