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Architectural Design Phases



The Predesign Phase is managed as preliminary research and information collection, regarding a project.  Sometimes during this phase, an owner-commissioned feasibility study is shared to declare the business case for the development. Following the feasibility study (or in the absence of one), programming, predesign studies, and programming begin. Key steps at this stage include land survey, site analysis, zoning analysis, project scope definition, visioning and project goals identification, program development, budget and schedule forecasting, project team selection, etc. Though the architect may be involved, the Predesign phase is not included in our basic services design fees.


Schematic Design is the first phase of the architectural design process and requires the client’s valuable input about his needs. We assess information gained in Predesign and translate that information into rough sketches of the shape and size of the building along with two to three basic plan options for our client to evaluate, visually. Though important details, such as building envelope, construction materials, and systems selections, have yet to be addressed, preliminary cost estimates are provided for the owner’s continued evaluation.

EAMC Cancer Center_East Side Rendering_1


Once the basic schematic design is approved, we then can proceed to a more evolved design of the building in the Design Development phase. Engaging necessary disciplines at this phase makes this the first highly comprehensive and collaborative period of the project’s design process. With heightened input from the owner, engineering professionals, and possibly other stakeholders, we combine forces to marry goals with function and shape.  By the end of this phase, we will have worked with the owner on the most critical decisions to be made and a more relevant construction and schedule estimate can be offered. The Design Development phase accounts for roughly 20% of our work and fees.


At this point, execution of the selected design begins.  Construction Documents are prepared, coalescing architectural and engineering components, along with notes and required technical specifications. With the help of the project engineers, the electrical, plumbing, interior finishes, appliances, and other required materials are selected, shown, and scheduled. Because this phase is intended to guide the project’s builders with both broad and detailed design intent, we generally spend the longest amount of time on this stage, accounting for roughly 40% of our time and fees.    



The Bidding phase is traditionally located in the process where the building contractor is selected, usually due to his low, competitive bid by his use and understanding of the Construction Documents provided and his ability to trim costs of his own devising.  While most public projects are required by public procurement bid laws, many private clients have transformed their contractor relationships, relying on them for informed decision assistance earlier in the design process and Negotiating their construction contracts instead.  Contractors who manage labor and buy materials are more likely to understand the costs of certain design decisions at any given points in time, so their input is invaluable in controlling costs and schedules.  For that very reason and in the best interest of project owners and all stakeholders, most architects embrace the practice of early contractor selection and consider them as partners in reaching client goals, over bidding their projects in a competitive contractor environment.


Construction Administration is the final phase, prior to occupancy, of a project process.  While building the project we’ve designed together takes time, and while the architect is not always on site day-to-day throughout the building process, the best outcomes are found when the architect and builder continue to work closely together to ensure that the design intent is interpreted in a real and lasting way.   Communication is key in these instances as are regularly scheduled site visits. The CA phase generally accounts for 20% of the architect’s time and fees for the overall project.

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