Design Assist vs. Delegated Design–Industry experts release recommended guidance

Design assist vs. delegated design

Over the past few years, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) have worked together to study design collaboration techniques commonly used in the construction industry. As a result of this joint effort, the AIA and AISC have published a paper titled “Design Collaboration on Construction Projects: Delegated Design, Design Assist, and Informal Involvement—what does it all mean?

Along the way, the AIA and AISC discovered that the terms “design assist” and “delegated design,” while commonly used in the industry, may mean different things to different people. These differences often result in differing expectations amongst the project participants. Thus, the AIA and AISC set their goal for the paper: to describe the roles and responsibilities of project participants in these design collaboration scenarios and offer definitions and guidelines that design professionals and the construction industry can adopt for their use.

“It's all about clear and consistent expectations,” says Babette Freund, Executive Vice President of Dave Steel Company, Inc. “This document will help everyone understand and distinguish informal involvement, design assist involvement, and delegation of design work.”

This jointly authored paper will come in two parts. Part 1 focuses generally on three collaborative techniques: informal involvement, design assist, and delegated design. Part 2, to be published at a later date, will address design assist as it relates to fabricated structural steel. Dr. Charles Carter, President of AISC, expressed his excitement for the paper and for things to come in the second part. “We are so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with AIA in the development of this document—and look forward to continuing that collaboration on Part 2.”

Ken Cobleigh, Managing Director of AIA Contract Documents, believes this paper will provide important guidance about design collaboration on construction projects, particularly given that it was created as part of a collaborative effort. “When you work with others to create anything—be it a paper like this or the design of a building—you get the benefit of shared expertise. We certainly learned a great deal from the representatives of AISC about these issues, and we hope the entire industry can benefit from the results of our collective work.”

Part 1 of this paper was written with significant contributions from the AIA Documents Committee, AIA Risk Management Committee, and the AISC’s Committee on the Code of Standard Practice. For inquiries about the AISC’s work and The Code of Standard Practice, contact solutions@aisc.org or 866.ask.aisc. For more information about the AIA Risk Management Committee and AIA Contract Documents Committee, visit aia.org/risk-management and aiacontracts.org/committee.

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Design assist vs. delegated design

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