The Design Process
Architectural Design is a creative problem-solving process. Working with an architect begins with the large scale and moves to the small, understanding the site, the client’s needs and desires, zoning and building codes, construction requirements, project schedule and resources available to accomplish the task. The goal is to collaborate with clients to help them realize their goals with the resources available.
Architectural Design Process is separated into specific phases.
The clients, working with the architect, define the project program. The program is a description of functions and sizes of spaces and their relationships to one other, and gives a clear definition of the scope, functions, and scale of the spaces. The schedule for the work and a probable cost per square foot will provide the basis for the Schematic Design Phase which follows.
The client’s program, ideas and images convey to the architect the functional and personal needs, the schedule, budget, project goals and overall vision for the project.
Once the program has been established, an analysis is done of the site, the existing building (is the case of an addition or remodeling), the character of the surrounding environment and relevant zoning and building codes. The Schematic Design Phase establishes the conceptual design of the project and illustrates the scales and relationships between project components.
During the Schematic Design Phase the architect generates schematic plans in response to these project parameters. Schematic options are reviewed with the client. In collaboration with our clients, a conceptual scheme is chosen. This may be one of the schematic plan options, a hybrid, or modified version of a particular option.
During this phase, a 3-D computer generated model may be used to study and develop massing and character of the new home, addition or other building type. Modeling is a useful design and communication tool for both architect and client. Schematic design often produces a site plan, floor plan(s), sections, one or more elevations.
Before further development of the chosen scheme, a rough preliminary construction cost estimate is done. This may be a cost per square foot estimate, or a more thorough preliminary cost estimate. Added to the construction cost are soft project costs which include design fees, permit fees, building contingency and other possible expenses.
During Design Development, the building’s size, massing, relationships, and overall appearance are further developed in floor plans, sections, elevations and construction details. Preliminary specifications, identifying major building materials and systems, and establishing quality standards are generally included in this phase.
Owner and architect decide if it is best to pre-select one contractor or to have a number of contractors competitively bid the project. This choice may depend upon many variables such as owner and architect’s comfort level with a particular contractor, availability of contractors, project schedule, and budget.
Construction drawings and written specifications describe the project in detail and meet requirements for bidding, applying for a building permit and construction of the project.
Bidding & Negotiation
The architect’s service may include assisting with the bidding and contractor selection processes. During the bidding period, questions and useful alternate materials or methods may be brought up by the contractor or his subcontractors. The bidding period can allow time to formally incorporate these alternates and clarification of plans. The architect can help the owner solicit, review and evaluate bids and selected select a contractor for the work if the project is competitively bid.
Construction Administration may be limited or more complete depending upon the degree of service required for the specific project. The architect’s service during the construction phase may include acting as the owner’s representative, making site visits to observe the progress of the work, answering questions that come up during construction, reviewing shop drawings, preparing change orders and reviewing the contractor’s applications for payment.