What is an AIA best practice and how do I submit one?

What are AIA best practices?

AIA Best Practices are a collection of relevant, experience-based knowledge and expert advice on firm management, project delivery, contracts, and more, aligned with the Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, 15th edition. You’ll find:

  • essential knowledge based on deep experience
  • expert advice that is immediately usable
  • new content and recent updates to definitive articles

    Best Practices are freely contributed articles written by practicing professionals, allied professionals, strategic partners, and industry consultants. The Best Practices are an opportunity for AIA members and other allied professionals to contribute to the advancement of the practice of architecture and the profession. Each article should be viewed as a living document, and new, relevant articles are actively desired.

    Who manages the best practices?

    A volunteer AIA Best Practices Committee has primary responsibility for the Best Practices. Oversight is provided by the Advisory Group of the Practice Management Knowledge Community. Participation and support also are provided by AIA staff who manage the website and provide final editing. If you want to know more about, or would be interested in participating in the Best Practices Committee’s efforts, please email us.

    Creating a best practice

    What are appropriate topics?

    The committee is always looking for relevant shared knowledge addressing the profession, the firm or the project. The chapter titles from the AHPP should serve as a guide. The only criteria are that submissions consist of knowledge gained from experience, and immediately applicable to a task at hand. Articles should be technical and specific. We are also looking for Best Practices to be more than just text; articles may include attachments in the form of templates, checklists, forms, or other interactive tools that can benefit AIA members.

    How do I contribute?

    Contributions to AIA Best Practices are welcome at any time and in any form. Completed articles are preferred, but ideas and knowledge are most important. If the topic is worthwhile, we will work with you to develop even the barest outline of an idea. Suggestions for topics are also welcome.

    We strongly encourage submissions by practicing professionals, allied professionals, strategic partners, and industry consultants. To encourage contributions, there are no submission forms and no submission deadlines. The only criteria are that articles consist of knowledge gained from experience, immediately applicable to a task at hand. If you have developed a practice you would like to share with your colleagues or have encountered a situation in which the knowledge of others would be of value to you, email us.


    Those individuals who wish to submit original content to be considered for publication on the AIA’s Best Practices webpage will be required to grant the AIA a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty free license to make such content available, as well as the right to create derivative works and the rights to use, reproduce, distribute, transmit, and publicly display the Work and any derivative works. Such license will be executed in writing at the time content is selected.

    Writing a best practice

    Title: The title should be explanatory, so people scanning the list of Best Practices on the AIA Website will clearly understand your topic. It must also be 50 characters or less in length, including spaces.

    Description: A short description—limited to 150 characters—will be used throughout the site in order to provide an attractive synopsis of the best practice, encouraging readers to click through to the full article.

    Full text of the practice, program, or effort:  This is the body of your Best Practice. In addition to the description above, many of our best practices also include a paragraph of summary or introduction at the beginning of the best practice. This introduction should put the most important information that the readers will be looking for first. Highlight the key points, engage the reader and encourage him or her to keep reading.

    The rest of the article provides the supporting details and background. AIA Best Practices articles are generally two to four pages (600 to 2,000 words) in length of text excluding graphs, tables, and other attachments, but err on the side of brevity. Break your paragraphs more often than you would in a print piece.

    Formatting: Online readers tend to scan rather than read. They are looking for headers that match what they are seeking, so structure the text with headers in order to help them quickly find the information they need. Headers and sub-headers should be written in sentence case.

    Bullets are encouraged any time you have a list of four or more items. Bold and italics may be used judiciously.

    Write for your audience. Content written to address members should feel approachable and inclusive. Use an active voice whenever possible, and recognize the diversity of the AIA membership, in both architectural practice and personal demographics.

    Conclusion: Wrap up by explaining how others might adapt and utilize your practice or program under similar (rather than identical) circumstances.

    Photos and Graphics: If the best practice includes photos or graphics, please submit the highest resolution version you have as a separate file for each graphic. Include any photo credit information, such as source and copyright. Accepted file formats are .jpg and .png

    Attachments: For Best Practices that include attachments such as templates or checklists, the attachments need to be in formats permitting and encouraging easy use. Accepted file formats are .pdf, .doc, and .docx.

    About Our Contributor: The contributor’s name and a brief description of their background is provided.  We avoid the use of email addresses and web links in this section because of the challenge of keeping up with the changes in these addresses.

    Keywords: Up to 10 keywords should be provided, which should reflect the content of the Best Practice. What words would someone search for if they wanted to find the Best Practices? These keywords are not displayed within the best practice, but will be used to improve the search functionality within the website.

    Feedback: Encouraging feedback and continually expanding, revising and updating the Best Practices is critical to the objectives of keeping them relevant and updated.  Each Best Practice should be held to a high standard and revised or replaced as appropriate. Criticism and commentary is encouraged.

    How are they organized?

    The Best Practices are organized to align with The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice 15th Edition (AHPP). The organization is as follows:

    Part I: The Profession

    Chapter 1: Ethics, and Professional Practice

    1.1 AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct Overview

    1.2 Ethics and Architectural Practice

    1.3 Design Beyond Ethics

    Chapter 2: Diversity and Demographics

    2.1 Diversity and Practice Management

    2.2 Demographics of Practice: 2012 AIA Firm Survey

    Chapter 3: Career Development

    3.1 Regulation of Professional Practice

    3.2 Intern Development

    3.3 The Career Paths of an Architect

    3.4 AIA Continuing Education System

    3.5 Participating in Professional Organizations

    3.6 Participating in Architectural Education

    Chapter 4: Public Interest Design

    4.1 Socially Responsible Design Overview

    4.2 The Role of Architects in Disaster Response and Recovery

    4.3 Architects in the Non-Profit Sector

    4.4 Public Service & Community Involvement

    Part II: Firm Management

    Chapter 5: Organizational Development

    5.1 Architects and the Law

    5.2 Entrepreneurial Practice: Starting an Architecture Firm

    5.3 Strategic Planning for the Design Firm

    5.4 Firm Growth and Development: How to Build a Creative Culture

    5.5 Leader Effectiveness

    5.6 Ownership Transitions

    5.7 Small Firm Collaboration

    5.8 Practicing in a Global Market

    5.9 Developing and Managing Multi-office Firms

    5.10 Office Administration

    5.11 Knowledge Management

    5.12 Information Management and Services

    Chapter 6: Marketing and Business Development

    6.1 Marketing Architectural Services

    6.2 Developing Marketing Strategy

    6.3 Public Relations and Communications

    6.4 Networking and Business Development

    6.5 Qualifications, Proposals and Interviews

    Chapter 7: Financial Management

    7.1 Navigating Economic Cycles

    7.2 Financial Management Overview

    7.3 Financial Management Systems

    7.4 Developing Annual Budgets and Profit Planning

    Chapter 8: Human Resources

    8.1 Human Resource Management Overview

    8.2 Compensation Strategy and Philosophy

    8.3 Recruiting and Hiring: Strategies and Methodology

    8.4 Professional Development and Mentoring

    Part III: Project Delivery

    Chapter 9: Design Project Delivery

    9.1 Project Delivery Methods

    9.2 The Architect’s Role in Construction Manager-Constructor Project Delivery

    9.3 Integrated Project Delivery Overview

    9.4 Contractor-Led Design-Build

    9.5 Architect-Led Design-Build

    9.6 Architect Developer

    9.7 Emerging Issues in Project Delivery

    Chapter 10: Design Project Management

    10.1 Managing Architectural Projects

    10.2 Project Teams

    10.3 Project Budgets, Work Planning, and Monitoring

    10.4 Project Management with Building Information Modeling Processes

    10.5 Design Phases

    10.6 Construction Drawings

    10.7 Construction Specification

    10.8 Bidding and Negotiation

    10.9 Construction Phase services

    10.10 Project Completion and Post-Construction Services

    Chapter 11: Technology in Practice

    11.1 Technology in Practice Overview

    11.2 Technology in Project Delivery Phases

    11.3 Small Firms, Small Projects, and Building Information Modeling

    11.4 Collaborative Technologies

    11.5 Technology Management

    11.6 Emerging Technology in Practice

    Chapter 12: Quality Management

    12.1 Origins and Development of Quality Management

    12.2 Quality Management in Schematic Design

    12.3 Checklists

    12.4 Quality Management in Construction Procurement, Construction Phase Services and Post-Construction

    Chapter 13: Building Codes, Standards and Regulations

    13.1 Building Codes and Standards

    13.2 Planning, Urban Design and the Regulatory Environment

    Chapter 14: Research in Practice

    14.1 Research in Practice Overview

    14.2 Research Methods

    14.3 Research and Practice

    14.4 Evidence-Based Design

    Part IV: Contracts And Agreements

    Chapter 15: Project Definition

    15.1 Defining Scope of Project Services

    15.2 Services and Compensation

    15.3 Negotiating Agreement

    Chapter 16: Risk Management

    16.1 Risk Management Strategies

    16.2 Insurance Coverage for Business and Professional Liability

    16.3 Risk and Emerging Practice

    16.4 Dispute Management and Resolution

    Chapter 17: Agreements and AIA Document Program

    17.1 Agreements with Owners

    17.2 Project Team Agreements

    17.3 Owner-Generated Agreements

    17.4 Construction Contracts

    17.5 AIA Documents Program

    The AIA collects and disseminates Best Practices as a service to AIA members without endorsement or recommendation. Appropriate use of the information provided is the responsibility of the reader.

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