Planning: Selecting the architect, project manager and other consultants

Selecting an architect, consultants and project team will be key to the success of your new or refurbished library building.

Selecting an architect

Internal stairs with a multicoloured glass ceiling
Surry Hills Library

The selection of an architect is obviously a key element in the planning and design of a library. There are a number of ways of entering into a selection process such as open or limited design competition, a tender process, calling for expressions of interest or choosing an architect outright based on experience and reputation. Each method can have advantages and pitfalls but in all cases it is imperative that the working group is confident they have engaged a professional with whom they can work collaboratively.

In almost all cases there will be a need to call for some form of tender for professional services. Local councils will have a policy and procedure for calling of tenders and the appointment of consultants.

Further advice can be sought from professional institutions such as the Australian Institute of Architects who publish a wide range of documentation such as competition procedure and qualification based assessment of architectural practices.

Selection criteria for assessment

These can include:

  • recent relevant experience
  • professional skills of nominated staff
  • ability and willingness to communicate effectively
  • experience in community consultation and stakeholder engagement
  • design excellence awards
  • proven design capability
  • resource availability
  • technical capability
  • experience in designing sustainable buildings
  • an understanding of the project
  • management practices and methodologies
  • quality and completeness of information supplied with the submission
  • cost effectiveness and value for money
  • ability to undertake value management exercises to bring the design in on budget
  • quality assurance
  • professional indemnity insurance.

Selecting a project manager

Also important to the process, particularly for larger projects, is the appointment of a project manager to manage the construction process. Project managers may become involved much earlier, even from the project’s inception, when the project is complex. It is an equally critical component of a successful library building project, to ensure that the planned facility is completed on time, on budget and consistent with the overall vision and plan for the facility. The project manager may be from within council, or an external consultant.

The traditional role of the project manager is to administer the building contract and provide the formal channel of communication and liaison between library staff and the building contractor/architect during construction. At earlier phases the project manager can assist with initial feasibilities, consultation and management of stakeholders, development of the brief, programming, engagement of consultants and assistance with the tendering of the project.

Councils must assess whether an in-house appointee has sufficient skills, experience and time to undertake the process, though this option obviously offers a cost saving. The alternative is an external appointee who will be a further cost to the project. The latter option can provide benefits because it is possible to source a project manager who has specific previous experience and skills with public libraries, and in the administration of building contracts. Within the building industry, these types of skills are called ‘value adding’ and in the long run utilising a professional project manager, which costs money, may arguably be less costly than an in-house appointee who lacks the skills, and time to follow the job through thoroughly.

Other consultants

Other consultants can be engaged with recommendations from the Architect and Project Manager.

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