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We have seen this in regards to AutoCAD. More than likely the file has a raster image in it.
Our fix was to use a different "Plotter" to create the PDF. Example, instead of using CutePDF printer we would use the DWGtoPDF.pc3 "Plotter".
I realize that your on the recieving end of the PDF so this may not help... but if you have a good relationship with the Architect he maybe able to find a similar fix on his end.
Also as a side note.... Raster images in AutoCAD can take a few different forms. You have traditional images (like most people think of) but AutoCAD also uses raster images to create "Wipeouts" and "Text Masks".
Sounds odd but I have found if you PDF the PDF it fixes a lot issues such as this.
Thanks for the feedback. We ended up needing to buy a new wide format printer and we did extensive testing to make sure the problem wasn't going to happen with the new one.