The Department of Education and School Infrastructure NSW have recently issued an Invitation for Expression of Interest (EOI) for the delivery of the Macquarie Park Education Campus and mixed-use development at the Lachlan’s Line Precinct. The Invitation requires proponents to submit a design response. This is not in line with the Institute’s Guidelines for EOI’s and RFT’s. It also does not align with the Government’s own 10-point Commitment for the construction sector in terms of reducing bidding costs.
Part 3.7 of the Institutes guidelines state
“3.7 DESIGN RESPONSE
It is important the architect be selected based on the capacity to deliver the project, an ability to work constructively with the client and stakeholders, and an understanding of opportunities and challenges presented by the project. It is appropriate to ask for a written response to the brief and site with the inclusion of benchmark images of the architect’s, or others’, work. However, diagrammatic or drawn design responses to the project vision and brief should not be requested as they effectively create a design competition.
Inclusion of sketches, drawings or an image-based design proposal at the early stage of an EOI or RFT compromises the ability to test assumptions in the project brief and offer alternative approaches that the client has not considered. It also undervalues the key creative input of design services and can infringe intellectual property rights. While the upfront financial cost to the architect providing design responses is significant, it is potentially greater to the client if adequate time and resources have not been allocated to fully exploring all the possibilities for the project.
If the client requires design responses from competing architects, either an RFP process or an architectural design competition should be conducted. Both of these require detailed preliminary work from the client. The Institute’s Architectural Competitions Policy is a comprehensive guide to organising an architectural competition”.
The Institute has a stated position on procurement of architectural services through competitive processes. The Institute believes that institutions and private clients benefit from using an appropriate tendering system that matches submission demands with project complexity.
There is a trend emerging whereby institutions and private clients request concept designs as a tender deliverable of Expressions of Interest (EOI) and Requests for Tender (RFT). Clients are expecting the work of preparing concept designs to be unpaid.
The Institute welcomes design-based selection processes, but the value of design is best procured when there is an acknowledgement that the best design will not be free.
The time required to prepare a concept design for a project is significant and costly. As well, when requested for EOIs and RFTs, it requires design professionals to donate intellectual property without any certainty that only the donated intellectual property of the successful tenderer will be used. Providing design services for free that may be used by another tenderer has to be a disincentive to participation in this competitive process.
The Institute fully supports the ambition of finding the best solution by a competitive process.
The best solution will only be presented when reasonable professional expectations regarding the value of intellectual property, remuneration for design services and the importance of design process are respected.
We do not endorse the provision of design services for no remuneration.
The best outcome for clients who wish to run a competitive process is to use an EOI or RFT and shortlist a select group from this (3 -5 architects) who can then compete by supplying design services that are remunerated.
Endorsement of the competition can be given by the Institute if it meets the Institute’s competition policy and guidelines.
The following is the Institute’s expectations regarding the various tendering methods.
Expressions of Interest (EOI)
An EOI offers an open process formally advising the market of an opportunity to register interest and ability to deliver a project within a proposed period.
It allows the shortlisting of a limited number of practices and can be undertaken in a short time. This approach can support emerging talent and foster innovation by broadening the options and exposure to new architects for the client.
Because of the potentially large number of responses, EOI requirements should be limited to minimise both the architects’ preparation time, and the client’s evaluation time. Fee proposals should not be requested at EOI stage.
An EOI can be:
- open and advertised on an online tender portal, or
- invited, with between five and eight suitable architects asked to submit, or
- replaced by a prequalification process, where that process is regularly maintained and open
Request for Tender (RFT)
An RFT involves the selection of a design team based on demonstrated capability, capacity, experience and a fee proposal. Capability includes the ability of the team to fully appreciate the opportunities and challenges of the project and demonstrate an appropriate design methodology and skills to develop a positive working relationship with the client and stakeholders.
Fully informed and experienced agencies may skip the EOI stage by selecting a shortlist of architects from a prequalification schedule or from experience/previous engagement and issue an RFT. No fewer than three and no more than five architects should be shortlisted for an RFT to avoid excessive evaluation time and effort by the client, while ensuring a good market spread.
An RFT should not request, nor receive, a specific design proposal for the project – see definition of Request for Proposal below.
The Institute has produced a set of guidelines for EOIs and RFTs for architectural services. They can be found on our website.
Request for Proposal (RFP)
An RFP is a separate process to EOI and RFT that seeks design ideas (sketches, drawings, concepts) for a project. Preparation of informed and thoughtful design ideas involves considerable time and therefore requires architects to be commissioned. RFPs also raise important considerations of intellectual property and moral rights.
An architectural competition is the process by which an architect or architectural design team is selected for a project, based on the competitive submission of conceptual designs.
An architectural competition, when conducted appropriately, can generate a broader range and higher level of innovation in design solutions. However, it is not universally appropriate and must be robustly evaluated against other methods of procuring the design team for any specific project.
A competition is appropriate when the project:
- is of public significance
- will benefit from a wide degree of design investigation
- is on a significant or unusual site
- will generate and benefit from heightened public interest
- will promote a higher level of design excellence for the project type or location
Entrants in an architectural competition will generally expend considerable time and cost in preparing their entry. As such, all entrants in a select competition or in the final stage of a multi-stage competition must be paid a reasonable honorarium, in addition to the prize money offered and to any fees associated with a post-competition commission.
The Institute maintains a Policy for architectural competitions and a copy of the Policy can be found on our website. It provides guidance on how to run a design process that is fair and reasonable for the participants in the process.