When I make seemingly heretical statements like that, I often am asked how I came to such a conclusion. Many architects have a hard time believing they no longer control much of what goes on during construction, contractors sometimes don't like having that much responsibility, and subcontractors often tell me they don't like it when designers use reference standards because they expect the architect to tell them how to do their jobs.
As I explained, my conclusion is based on the requirements of the AIA general conditions (and general conditions from other sources, which typically have similar provisions). Not only does the A201 say the contractor is responsible for means and methods, it also says the architect is not responsible for means and methods, in Article 4 (my italics):
§ 4.2 ADMINISTRATION OF THE CONTRACTAnother source of information about complementarity and means and methods is the AIA Document Commentary for the A201-2007. Following are a few excerpts.
§ 4.2.2 …the Architect will not be required to make exhaustive or continuous on-site inspections to check the quality or quantity of the Work. The Architect will not have control over, charge of, or responsibility for, the construction means, methods, techniques, sequences or procedures, or for the safety precautions and programs in connection with the Work, since these are solely the Contractor’s rights and responsibilities…
§ 1.2.1Does any of this prohibit the architect from specifying means and methods, such as telling the contractor to schedule meetings and when to schedule them, or from specifying installation methods, or from dictating when things should be done? No, but - in so doing, the architect assumes responsibility for them, at the same time relieving the contractor of responsibility.
The contractor is expected to make reasonable inferences from the contract documents. When the documents show wall partitions covered by drywall… it may be inferred that some reasonable method will be used to attach the drywall to the underlying framework.
The contractor is responsible for performing all work shown and specified, unless it is specifically stated to be the work of others.
§ 4.2.1 (under 4.1 Administration of the Contract)
The word administration is not intended to imply that the architect either supervises or directs the construction effort.
§ 4.2.2 (see quotation of 4.2.2 above)
The last sentence underscores the statement of the contractor's responsibilities in 3.3.1 and reinforces the dividing line between the contractor's responsibilities and those of the architect.
Each architect is responsible for deciding what and how much information must be included in the contract documents. Previously, we have discussed redundancies, which can be confusing and contradictory, and needlessly increase the time required to understand what is to be done. Even so, some architects - and many owners - are convinced that repetition is necessary to make sure that some requirements are read and understood. In much the same way, many architects do not trust contractors, manufacturers, or installers to know what they are doing, and try to tell them how to do their jobs.
The intent is good, but in practice, it's an impossible task. If installers don't understand their own jobs, which are of limited scope in the context of the entire project, how can an architect be expected to be an expert in installation not only of that product, but of all the other hundreds of products? Remember, too, that typical owner-contractor and contractor-subcontractor agreements require the contractor and subcontractor to have read and understood the contract documents, and they sign agreements attesting to that knowledge.
All of these things are tied together by agreements. Rather than ignore those agreements, they should be respected and enforced, and each entity should understand and honor the terms of their contracts.