Architect Consultant Agreement


While taking one of the BS practice exams I came across an answer that I do not understand. Can anyone explain the reasoning here? Seems like the question might be worded incorrectly.


A large hotel is in the design development phase. The contracted lighting designer is preparing their deliverables per their contract when the owner requests that the contracted electrical engineers complete the lighting design.

According to the Standard Agreement Between Architect and Consultant (AIA C401), how should the architect proceed with regard to the lighting designer?


  1. Reassign the lighting designer to a similar project for the rest of their contract

Incorrect. The consultant’s agreement is for this particular project and therefore, they cannot be simply reassigned to another job. They must be terminated and held with another contract for the reassignment.

  1. Terminate the consultant without pay

Incorrect. The payment of a termination fee is included in the C401-Standard Agreement Between Architect and Consultant if the contract is terminated at no fault of the consultant.

  1. Terminate the consultant and pay a termination fee

Correct. According to the C401-Standard Agreement Between Architect and Consultant, “in the event of termination of this Agreement not due to the fault of the Consultant, the Architect shall pay the Consultant a Termination Fee and for the Architect’s continued use of the Consultant’s Instruments of Service.”

  1. Decline the owner’s request (my answer)

Incorrect. According to the C401-Standard Agreement Between Architect and Consultant, “the Architect may terminate this Agreement or suspend the Consultant’s services pursuant to the same terms and conditions, other than the amount of any Termination Fee or Licensing Fee set forth in the Prime Agreement.” If the owner is requesting their termination, the architect shall comply.

Reference: AIA C401-2017

Hi @Charlesanthonylent ,

I’ll see if I can help! Is there any portion of the question in particular that is throwing you off?

In the scenario it is implied that the architect had both a lighting designer consultant and an electrical engineer consultant. Midway through the project, the owner decided they did not want the lighting designer on the project for reasons not specified. They asked the architect to have their electrical engineer complete the lighting design instead. Both the electrical engineer and the lighting designer would be bound to the architect through the C401 contract.

The question is asking what the appropriate steps are that the architect should take since the owner has effectively requested the lighting designer be removed from the project.

As the owner is paying the architect and can terminate the contract at will it is in the best interest of the architect to follow the owner’s direction. While this scenario does not give the reason the owner wishes to remove the lighting designer, in general it best to honor the owner’s wishes bearing they do not endanger anyone or break any laws.

So, the correct answer is “Terminate the consultant and pay a termination fee”. This answer aligns with the information found in C401 and follows the appropriate procedures for the situation.

I hope this helps! Please let me know if there is anything else I can try to clear up.