Stages of the Design Process

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    Schematic Design

    • The first stage is called schematic design. This is when the ideas are laid out and the potential problem that needs to be solved with the design is set forth. An architect will use this stage to get an understanding of the client's needs and wants and try to really understand what it is they are looking for in their design. It is at this stage that an architect will use such tools as an adjacency matrix and a bubble diagram to help understand the potential design requirements while putting together the criteria that are required.

    Design Development

    • The second stage is design development. This is when the design is starting to take shape and the spaces are understood and recognized. This is also when an architect will start picking out the materials and the structural system that will be used in the design. The style and direction of the design will start to be developed at this stage.

    Construction Documents

    • The third stage is construction documents. This is when the details of how to build the project are put together in a concise and thorough set of plans. A set of construction documents consists of the drawings and a set of specifications such as electrical diagrams. They are kept together so that a contractor has all the information needed to build the project.

    Bidding and Negotiations

    • The fourth stage is the bidding and negotiations stage. This is when the construction documents have been approved and an owner gets estimates, or bids, from potential contractors.

    Construction Administration

    • The last and final stage is construction administration. This is when the project is being built and the architect is in charge of interpreting and clarifying the drawings for the contractor. Many times this is the most time-consuming aspect of the process, because many different variables come into play when putting a project together. Sometimes materials that were available 6 months ago during the construction documents stage are no longer available during the construction administration stage, so substitutions have to be found, approved and ordered.

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