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What is an Architect of Record or AOR?

What is the difference between an Architect of Record (AOR) and a Design Architect? These can be either a single or two very distinct roles when designing and executing a project. The division typically happens when the project is substantial in size and requires niche expertise in different areas. In retail and office design projects however, more often than not, the division is driven by the location of the head office of the client and the physical location of the project.

Roles Defined

Design Architect
  • Primary Role: The Design Architect is primarily responsible for the conceptual and aesthetic aspects of a project. They create the initial design, including the appearance, layout, and style.
  • Creative Focus: Their work is more focused on the vision and artistic elements of the project, often bringing a signature style or innovative ideas to the table.
  • Engagement Level: They are usually most active in the early stages of the project, especially during the conceptual and design development phases with direct and frequent interactions with the client
Architect of Record (AOR)
  • Primary Role: The Architect of Record is responsible for the detailed execution and technical aspects of the project. They ensure that the design meets all building codes, local laws, and functional requirements as well as requirements set forth in their local licensing body’s bylaws.
  • Technical and Legal Responsibilities: Their role includes producing detailed drawings and specifications, overseeing the construction process, and ensuring compliance with regulations. The AOR is the legally recognized architect of the project.
  • Engagement Level: The AOR is actively involved throughout the project, from initial design to the completion of construction. They handle construction administrative tasks and technical documentation. Many Canadian Provinces including Alberta, BC, Manitoba and Ontario require that the plans, drawings, detail drawings, specifications and other associated documents are prepared by or under the personal supervision, direction and control of the Architect of Record.