• The ‘design-bid-build’ (or general contractor) approach to building project delivery is a linear process in which an owner engages an architect to design a building, then the architect assists the owner to select a general contractor who is unaffiliated with the architect to construct the building.


  • ‘Design-Build’ is a different project delivery method in which both design and construction are performed by a single entity. Design-Build has a reputation for reducing project cost and time, but it also has a reputation for lesser quality and lower standards of aesthetic design than architect-designed ‘design-bid-build’ projects. This is because at the stage of procuring a contractor-led design-builder, the design-build proponents develop and negotiate quality and durability standards independent of each other in the absence of objective design and performance criteria (e.g. architectural and interior design drawings and specifications) to bid on.
  • Contractor design-builders typically compete on price in the absence of other criteria, bidding to the lowest design, quality and performance standards permitted by building regulations. This may be perfectly acceptable to the client, depending on the project type. However the client whose interest in the project will survive after completion of construction must also take into account design quality as well as operation, maintenance and life-cycle costs in addition to capital cost. Even when the architect is named in a design-build agreement between the contractor/design-builder and owner, the architect is primarily responsible to the contractor/design-builder, and the contractor/design-builder may direct the architect to design to minimum regulatory requirements.


  • Clients choose ‘Design-Build’ because it reduces project duration, removes adversarial relationships and gives the client a single point of responsibility for the project. Historically up until the 20th century, most buildings including enduring masterpieces of architecture were both designed and constructed by the architect as a “master-builder”. Many 20th century and contemporary masterpieces were also designed and built by their architect. Today, in many advanced economies around the world, this system still prevails and the architect is professionally responsible for both building design and construction.
  • In 20th Century North America, the architectural profession considered architect-led design-build to be outside of the architect’s proper scope of professional practice, so general contractors filled the need for the Design-Builder, by engaging the architect themselves, not by acting as the designer.
  • 21st century clients, the profession, and suitably qualified architects are seeing the benefit of the architect as Design-Builder, because of advantages the architect brings uniquely to the role. The ‘Architect-led Design-Build’ approach re-integrates design and construction and allows the architect to maximize efficiencies in project time, cost and quality throughout the building project.

We now offer Architect-Led Design-Build services as one of our project delivery options for the appropriate project type and scale. Find out if Architect-Led Design-Build is an appropriate option for your project.