Predesign involves gathering information to begin the design process. This may include a needs assessment, building and zoning code research, schedule and budget confirmation, site survey, soil analysis, as-built plans, site evaluation, historical precedent study and client, user, governmental agency, and other key party reviews. Implications from issues such as potential hazardous materials and unique zoning requirements may also be investigated. The information gathered may be assembled into the “Program Statement” which is a working and guiding document for all project team members.
We begin the design process after getting to know the client: their likes and dislikes, needs and wants and goals and dreams. Once we’ve gathered the beginning information (although learning continues throughout the project), the design process begins with a pencil, sketch book and cup of coffee by looking at the basic site and building relationships. This is where the "big idea" is conceived: are we looking at a building which is long or short, compact, or elongated? Is it simple or intricate, open or closed? Modern, traditional, or other? Will the roof be pitched or flat? We investigate key features such as the building location and orientation, entry placement, spatial relationships and site issues such as landscape, parking and service areas.
Deliverables typically include a site plan, floor plans, elevations, sections, massing sketches and a preliminary estimate of probable construction costs.
Design development takes the schematic design and refines it so that the pieces work closely together. Plans study structural layout, wall/floor/roof systems, detailed room relationships, furnishings and, critically, exterior design. Exterior design explores architectural style, massing, window treatment, materials, patterns, and roof design. Site plans study site circulation as well as hard surfaces and landscape. We usually provide computer-generated drawings for the site, floor plans, elevations, sections, three-dimensional images, and unique details along with a preliminary estimate of probable construction costs at the end of this phase.
This is where the "blueprints" are developed - drawings and specifications needed to secure final pricing and permits. They also communicate to the contractors what "goes into" the design. Documents include full dimensions and annotated site and landscape plans, floor plans, exterior elevations, building sections, window and door schedules, details, interior elevations and kitchen and bath design as well as structural, electrical, mechanical and plumbing design.
Construction Contract Bidding or Negotiation
Clients have several options when selecting a building delivery system and contractor. The basic delivery systems are design-bid-build, preselection, design-build and self-contracted. Design-bid-build is the traditional system in which the plans are prepared and then released for competitive bidding; Preselection means the owner selects a contractor to be part of the team during the design phase; Design-build is an approach in which a single entity provides both the design and construction (a decision we make before the design process begins); Self-contracted means the owner serves as the general contractor.
Although the client always selects the contractor, the architect typically recommends contractors to the owner for consideration. Permitting and plan approval are generally completed during this period.
The architect visits the construction site to confirm general conformance with the plans. Visits are made at key intervals such as demolition, excavation, foundations, framing, insulation, window and door installation, electrical/mechanical/plumbing installation and finishes and materials. Other services may include reviews of change orders, pay requests and shop drawings. Shop drawings are detailed drawings and specifications for off-site fabricated components of the project. Examples include window, doors, hardware, trusses, and cabinetry.