Common sense says a laboratory should cost more to design than a dormitory because its piping, ventilation, and special-use areas would require more hours of work, more drawings, and more consultants than a dorm of equal size. Since 1866, when the American Institute of Architects first published professional guidance, designers considered it wise to charge higher fees for more complicated projects. But a new study by university researchers and facility planners throws at least part of this logic into question and shows several possible reasons why design fees vary.
Published in January in the Journal of Management in Engineering, a publication of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the authors say designers working on recent college and university projects did not charge more for laboratories than dormitories, on average, and that project type did not make a significant difference in what designers charged. According to their research, regional location and size of a university endowment are more closely linked to the amount of the design fee than project type or complexity.