Once the short list of architects is developed, the selection committee should prepare a request for proposals (RFP). The RFP includes a detailed list of questions that the architect should answer in a formal proposal. An RFP typically includes questions such as the following:
How will the architect approach this project?
How will the architect establish priorities and make decisions?
Who will be assigned to this project on a day-to-day basis, for overall management during the construction process?
What are the qualifications of the individuals who will be assigned to this project?
How does the architect typically establish a fee for a project?
What does the architect deem to be the most important issues for consideration on this project?
How does the architect manage schedule and costs during design and during construction?
Who would the architect recommend as engineers and consultants?
It is appropriate to request detailed resumes of the individuals who will be assigned to the project, as well as references for those individuals.
Some institutions have found it helpful to include as part of the RFP a draft of an Owner/Architect Agreement prepared by the institution. Other institutions have chosen to provide a standard Owner/Architect Agreement produced by the American Institute of Architects (AIA-B141 Standard Form of Agreement between Owner and Architect) and ask each architect to provide a list of the modifications he or she would typically make to this standard document.
Some institutions may ask the architect to prepare a formal fee proposal. If a formal fee proposal is requested, it should be understood that this represents only a guideline for the institution to compare with that of other architectural firms. It is difficult for an architect to estimate accurately the services that will be required by a project at such an early stage, and therefore it is difficult to project a fee accurately. It is appropriate, though, to request that the architect provide a description of how the fee would be established and what services the architectural firm includes within its standard scope of services. The RFP should include the names of the other architects that the institution is considering so that each architect can decide whether to proceed with the selection process. In general, the preparation of a proposal, particularly one responding to a formal RFP prepared by an institution, requires a substantial effort on the architect's part. This is particularly true if the architect decides to visit the site, which will require travel expenses and time in addition to that needed to prepare the RFP.