Architectural Design

Phases of the Design-Construction Process

Space Programming

The Architect meets with the owner, developer, and/or users of the new building to discuss and develop the space layout, adjacencies and overall goals of the project. Often, much of the data needed to proceed with a design is collected during the first meeting.

Schematic Design

The Architect will translate the owner's requirements into a rough, preliminary design. This design may be in the form of rough sketches, 3-d computer models, or other physical representations of the design. The Architect will generate drawings illustrating the floor layout of the building, exterior elevation, and a site layout. Depending on the complexity of the project, and the needs of the owner, this phase of the project may go through multiple iterations, and could take some time.

Architectural and Structural Design Development

At this point, the owner has agreed to the basic design prepared by the Architect, and the Architect will begin to develop the overall design in more detail. Any necessary consultants will be brought in at this time: civil engineer for site surveys and site design; geotechnical engineer for the geotechnical report (when required); landscape architect; energy, mechanical, electrical and plumbing consultants, just to name a few. Code research will be performed, verifying all applicable requirements for the building and the site. Systems will be selected, such as the framing and foundation type - It is during this phase that many of the important decisions about the project will be made. With each project having its own needs and complexities, the list of necessary tasks and consultants will vary.

Construction Documents

This phase of the work will likely take the bulk of the time during the overall process. This is where the Architect is preparing and coordinating all the detailed drawings and other documents necessary for bidding, permitting and construction. This would consist of detailed documents depicting all aspects of the construction, such as door and window details, wall construction, foundation and framing systems and waterproofing details, etc. Structural calculations and energy calculations are prepared and coordinated with the drawings. For some projects, detailed specifications may be prepared to describe the various systems of the building in more detail, as well as provide detailed instructions to the contractor for the bidding and construction process - this is rarely done for residential projects.

Bidding and Negotiation

At this phase, the Construction Documents are handed off to the owner for the bidding process. The Architect can assist in the bidding process by answering questions, issuing addenda and clarifications, and even helping the owner select the right contractor for the job. Often, a contractor is already selected by the time the project is at this point, in which case the Architect's role is simplified.

Construction Administration

During the construction phase, the role of the Architect can vary widely, depending on the project size and scope. For most residential and small commercial projects, the Architect simply acts in a support role; reviewing shop drawings, clarifying details, coordinating with the contractor when necessary to ensure that the construction proceeds in accordance with the Construction Documents.