Government as ‘Smart Client’

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Hamer Hall by ARM Architecture.

Hamer Hall by ARM Architecture. Image: John Gollings

The Office of the Victorian Government Architect has developed a set of guidelines, Government as ‘Smart Client’, for building procurement processes, the implications for design quality arising from these processes, and recommended strategies to enable good design.

Methods used to deliver built projects can vary substantially, not just in their decision-making process, risk sharing and contractual methods, but also the way in which they affect the interaction with the design team and their capacity to deliver good design outcomes. The guidelines offer advice to government and the construction industry on how this relationship can be structured to benefit good design and reviews the various procurement methods to achieve the best possible design outcomes.

The guidelines are supported by case studies on past projects that give an overview of the project, procurement method, constraints and key steps taken to protect design quality through the process. The guidelines are set out in five chapters including:

  • Introduction
  • Government as Informed Client
  • The Design Process
  • Procurement of Design Service
  • Procurement of Buildings and Infrastructure

Victorian Government Architect, Geoffrey London, has presented the guidelines interstate as well as in Canada and the USA. “Good design does not just happen: it is purposefully and carefully undertaken by skilled practitioners, valued by the client, and needs to be protected through delivery of the project,” says London in his foreword to the guidelines. 

“A key legacy offered by any government is the quality of buildings, infrastructure and the public realm that they produce. Well-designed buildings and places promote community pride and identity and offer an enduring legacy. Over the life of a building, evidence shows that bad design ends up costing money, while good design ends up costing less and, at the same time, adds real value.”

The intent is that the guidelines and supporting case studies be updated regularly to remain active in their content and application, so feedback and comment will be vital to keeping them relevant.

Download the Government as ‘Smart Client’ guidelines
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