Architecture Design Process

Architecture Design Process: How is it Done?  Many issues such as performance, reliability, site specific conditions, costs, governmental and even construction union's regulations, etc. must be addressed during the stage of architectural design. The task of managing these properties is very difficult. The following is the design process which architects follow, as defined by architectural organizations:

  • Phase 1: Schematic Design

The goal of the schematic design (SD) is to clearly define design with a comprehensive scope, budget, and schedule before the project is submitted for approval.In other words, it's about determining the general scope, preliminary design, scale and relationships among the components of the project.

During this time, the architect reviews and creates a detailed program with the client in order to define his needs and objectives, such as size, function, and the relationships between spaces, character, and image.It's important during this stage to arrive at a clearly defined, feasible concept while at the same time exploring the most promising alternative design solutions.

Prior to the initial design concepts, architects begin by gathering and analyzing information and performing all of the work necessary design a project.

For instance, the Architect prepares a series of rough plans, known as schematics, which show the general arrangement of rooms and of the building on the site.The next step utilizes the landscape consultant’s input where the architect analyzes the site and determines the best placement of the project to ensure the best placement to capture views and sunlight. During this stage, the architect usually establishes the construction scope, budget, and schedule.

Models and/or illustrations are prepared to help visualize the project as necessary. The project then proceeds to the next phase whereby the architect presents the design concepts to the owner who reviews it, and then provides his own input and vision for the projects before approving the schematic design. When an agreement is reached between the architect and the owner, the basic layout or the schematic design is finalized.

  • Phase 2: Design Development

Architects begin by creating basic concept diagrams and rough sketches. Conceptual brainstorming and exploration define this portion of the design process.

The architect creates the initial design of building systems, but then expands the approved schematic design studies to develop a more detailed drawing illustrating other aspects of the proposed design, sometimes with help of consulting engineers.

During this time, the architect determines the general layout, form, and overall appearance of both the project and the site. Sketches, drawings, and study models are prepared to help evaluate the ideas and concepts and set the final direction for refining the design.

Once the size, layout, and character of the project and site are refined, then the architect begins to design feature elements such as stairs, cabinetry, fireplaces, and built-in furniture. Drawings are prepared which describe some of the important technical details.

Plans, elevations, and sections through the house are developed. These include floor plans that show all of the rooms in the correct sizes and shapes.These outline specifications are a list of the major materials and room finishes.

The architect then verifies that the design complies with building codes and works with engineers to design the structural, mechanical, and electrical systems. During this stage, the architect usually presents the design development and reviews the project cost estimation with the owner so that the owner can provide his input. When an agreement reached, this design phase is finalized.By the end of this phase, a large portion of the design work is completed.

  • Phase 3: Construction Documentation

Once the owner has approved the design development phase, the architect starts working on producing working drawings and on the specifications production whereby the design is translated into detailed working drawings (commonly known as ‘blueprints’) and the specifications, which the Contractor will use to establish actual construction costs and build the project.

These working drawings or blueprints and specifications are prepared in order to define in detail all of the materials that are to be used in the project and where they are to be located, as well as how they are to be installed.These drawings and specifications become part of the construction contract.

Although this phase is primarily intended to work out the technical aspects of the project, some design work also takes place.During this stage, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, and finish materials such as tile, carpet, paint colors, etc. are selected with the client. Finally, the owner reviews the project.

  • Phase 4: Bidding and Negotiation

During the bidding and negotiation phase, the architect may assist the customer in obtaining competitive bids or bid evaluations, as well as invitations to bid, and instructions to bidders.

The architect creates and specifies the conditions of the contract, and the form of agreement between the owner and the contractor and furthermore.  The architect prepares and distributes sets of drawings and specifications, answers contractor questions, interprets the documents, and prepares addendational revisions to the original drawings or specifications. Once the bids are received, the architect analyzes the results and prepares the contract between the customer and the selected contractor.

  • Phase 5: Construction

Of course, the final phase of the process is the construction. During this phase, the architect review the progress of the work and facilitates any changes that may be required by visiting the construction site and observing the construction to determine, in general, if the project is being built according to the plans and specifications.

The architect answers questions, reviews submissions and shop drawings (manufacturers' drawings of specific elements to be incorporated within the project), and reviews monthly certificates of payment that are submitted by the contractor and processes change orders.

The architect generally keeps the owner informed of the project's progress. However, the contractor is solely responsible for construction methods, schedules, techniques, and procedures. Final selections of finishes and fixtures are also made here.

The architect, upon completion of this phase, thoroughly inspects the project to ensure that it has been completed according to the plans.For detailed instruction on Architecture Design Process see the section of this website about designing a home.