The 5 phases of an architectural project

A typical building program framework

Every project is unique. And it should be, because every client is unique. There will be variations in budget, building type, location, construction method and more. But developing an architectural solution to your building program usually follows a standard 5 phase framework that will apply regardless of the other variables. Here’s what you can expect.

1. Schematic Design

We’ll work with your program of requirements to sketch out some initial rough drawings. Conceptual drawings without much detail, but showing the relationship of each space to the other spaces. If we were creating a painting, these would be very broad strokes with a large brush. It develops the overall idea of the building, and we begin to think about the major building systems like structure, mechanical and electrical.

2. Design Development

Once you’re satisfied with the schematic drawings we’ll develop them further, adjusting and refining as we go along. We’ll begin to think about materials and colors as well as more specific details about the building systems like what kind of structure, ventilation, plumbing and electrical is best. These drawings may be used to apply for Development Permits, present to committees, for marketing, fundraising and other purposes.

3. Construction Documents

Nnow we develop enough detail so that a contractor could actually build the design. We coordinate the work of the structural, mechanical and electrical engineers to minimize discrepancies between the various systems. We create written specifications that dictate the performance and quality of each component of the building. This phase accounts for about half the total design fee because it takes so much time and effort.

4. Bidding and Negotiation

We help you review the results of the bidding process and award a construction contract to the successful bidder. During this phase we answer any questions from bidders and clarify the drawings so that every contractor is bidding on the same information, ensuring the process is fair.

5. Contract Administration

Once construction begins we work to ensure that the actual building meets the intent of the design drawings. We’ll meet the contractor on site at regular intervals to address any unexpected problems as they come up. We’ll deal with any proposed changes and prepare “change orders” which are the formal method of changing the construction contract with an extra cost or a credit.

What additional services do architects provide?

Architects perform other services as well, such as advising on site selection, programming, model making, feasibility studies, cost estimating, renderings, walk-throughs, and more, but the above 5 phases are standard to most projects. You can think of the process as a funnel, starting out very broad at the beginning, condensing and narrowing down the solution as we go along, until the construction is finished and the client takes possession of their new building.

For more detail on any of the 5 phases please contact David Parker or Kelly Seminoff at Parker Seminoff Architects or leave a comment below.


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