LESSON 05: Introduction to Architectural Practice: The Design Process

Students will continue to develop familiarity with drawing types used in the typical architectural practice. This week’s lab will focus on deriving a section from the plan and elevation of their building.

Phases of Design
From concept to construction, the design of a building follows a process and schedule according to which decisions are made, information is coordinated, and payments are received.

Pre-design begins the process. During this phase the architect reviews the program for the building with the client, gathers information on the site, visits the site to understand the surrounding context. The architect will also undertake research the project, looking at precedents and case studies to more fully understand the assignment.

Concept Design initiates the creative phases of the project. Ideas are documented primarily through hand sketches and alternative ideas are explored. The architect keeps an open mind and considers the alternatives according to solutions that best accommodate the program and work with site and its context. Often the architect will review these schemes with the client for input and direction.

Schematic Design: Based on the input from the client and the architect’s overall preferences, the process enters schematic design where the architect will explore in more detail the chosen concepts. Often two or three concept schemes are brought into schematic design. In this phase the architect will develop plans, sections, and elevations, drawn in scale, to fit the program, to conform to the site, and to begin to evaluate how the building will look. Perspective drawings and three-dimensional models will complete the process of exploration. At the end of this phase, the architect will present the scheme(s) to the client for approval. At this point, the overall direction of the project is set.

Design Development sets all the specifics of the design. All aspects of the design are detailed, dimensions set, materials chosen, fixtures and equipment documented. In this phase the architect works closely with the consulting engineers to make sure all aspects of the design are coordinated. Consulting engineers are many: civil (site), structural (structure), mechanical (HVAC: heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, plumbing, lighting, IT, and so on depending on the type of project.
As this phase proceeds, depending on the size of the project, the architect will often hire a cost estimator to review the drawings to make sure the project remains within budget. With experience, the architect develops a good sense of costs for smaller and simpler projects. While the architect will meet periodically with the client to review the progress, at the end of this phase a presentation will be made to the client to confirm the scope of the project, to make sure all aspects are covered, and the budget is met. Detailed drawings, and renderings are presented and usually a presentation model that represents the final design of the building.

Construction Documents: Timewise, this is typically the longest phase for the architect. During the construction document, all aspects of the design must be detailed and all aspects of the scope of the project documented. Based on these drawings, contractors will place their bids so that anything omitted will not be covered in their bids. The selected contractor will use these drawings from which to build or on which they will base their shop drawings, drawings they prepare, approved by the architect, from which they will build.

Bidding takes place upon completion of the construction documents. The bid set consists of the entire construction document drawings and a written specification that enumerates all aspects of the job not covered in the drawings. Contractors submit a bid price for the job and from the bids the client will select the contractor, often taking the lowest bid. It is critical that the entire scope of the project be represented in the construction documents and specification. Missing scope or details can lead to costly change orders; contractors will often underbid incomplete drawings only to make up the money in change orders during construction.

Construction phase for the architect involves reviewing contractor’s shop drawings and on-site job observation to confirm that what is being built conforms to the design intent. The architect plays no role in how something is built, only to what is built.

Class Schedule
Discussion: class pin-up of plans and elevations.
Demonstration: How to derive a section from a plan and elevations
Lab: Taking your scaled elevation drawings of a mausoleum, derive a longitudinal and transverse section based on the information provided. You will accurately draft a scaled a scaled plan that conforms to the dimensions given.