Pre-design is where information is gathered to begin the design process. This may include a needs assessment, building and zoning code research, schedule and budget confirmation, site survey, soils analysis, as-built plan preparation, site evaluation, historical precedent study and client, user, governmental agency, and key party reviews. Implication from issues such as potential hazardous materials and unique zoning requirements can also be investigated. The information gathered may be assembled into the “Program Statement”, 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 the beginning information (we are always learning) is at hand, the design process begins with a pencil, sketch book and cup of coffee, looking at 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, simple or intricate or open or closed? Modern, traditional, or other? Will the roof be pitched or flat? Key features such as the building location and orientation, entry placement, space relationships and site issues such as landscape, parking and service areas are investigated.
Deliverables typically include a site plan, floor plans, elevations, building section, a basic massing sketch and a preliminary estimate of probable construction costs.
Design Development takes the Schematic Design and refines it so that the pieces are working 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 and hard surfaces and landscape. At the close of this phase 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 are typically provided.
The "blueprints" are developed here - drawings and specifications needed to secure final pricing, permits and 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, kitchen and bath design, and 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, Pre-Selection, Design-Build and Self-Contracted. Descriptions of each are as follows: Design-Bid-Build is the traditional system where the plans are prepared and then released for competitive bidding; Pre-Selection is when the owner selects a contractor to be part of the team at the design phase; Design-Build is an approach where a single entity provides both the design and construction (here the decision is made before the design process begins); Self-Contracted is when 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 observe work and 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 the review of change orders, pay requests and shop drawings - detailed component drawings for fabricated pieces of the construction such as window, doors, hardware, trusses, and cabinetry.