Design / the continuous thread

FSB Project Phases for Chickasaw Visitor Center


When does it begin; when does it end? Design has its beginnings in the early dreams and vision of the client. Formalized design activity comes into play when the design professional engages in the project. These formal stages of preliminary design and final design initialize and refine the big idea respectively. While preliminary design creates the first generation of site and plan organization, final design investigates and resolves how the building components begin to integrate with one another. Final design sets the stage and direction for how the materials will blend and transition throughout the building. The pieces and parts of the architecture and engineering systems come together to form a composition of assemblies. These include floor assemblies, wall assemblies, ceiling assemblies and roof assemblies. However, the design effort does not end with final design.

As design is synonymous with problem solving, the activity continues to drill down with increasing detail as if looking at the project through a microscope with greater magnification each round. This intricate level of design occurs in the creation of the construction documents. Working out the details of how each part of the building fits together, keeping the elements outside and keeping the controlled environment inside, working out the thermal characteristics of the building envelope and working out the efficiency of the engineering systems is all very challenging. I believe this detailed level of design can be extremely satisfying as well.   But even then, design/problem solving continues into the construction phase of the project as the design team and construction team work together to build a full scale version of the project which to date has only existed as a virtual model in the computer.

So let’s take a look at the total process of the project. The graph above is a traditional timeline that illustrates a linear interpretation of the project. The project transitions from phase to phase and throughout the process includes team meetings, client meetings and quality assurance activities. The following is an outline of those phases and a sprinkling of the list of things to be accomplished.

Pre-Design Phase

  • Defining the Vision, Goals and Objectives
  • Programming/Project Definition
  • Concept Development
  • Preliminary Budget and Schedule
  • Feasibility Studies and quite often more

Preliminary Design Phase

  • Referred to as Schematic Design within the industry and illustrated above as Concept Initiation
  • Study the Site Layout
  • Developing Space Relation Bubble Diagrams
  • Investigating the Flow of People, Work and Materials through the building
  • Developing the Building Vocabulary
  • Identifying Materials and Systems
  • Test Building Massing
  • Preliminary Engineering Concepts

Final Design Phase

  • Referred to as Design Development within the industry and illustrated above as Concept Development
  • Develop Scaled Site Plan
  • Develop Scaled Floor Plan
  • Study Building Exterior
  • Refine the Selection of Materials both Interior and Exterior
  • Study Building Sections and Wall Sections
  • Finalize Concepts for Systems Integration
  • Establish Approach to Insulating the Building Envelope
  • Preliminary Engineering Calculations
  • Preliminary Sizing of Equipment and Systems

Construction Documents Phase

  • The construction documents consist of drawings and specifications.
  • The drawings are a graphic illustration of how the building goes together. They contain architectural information like dimensioned floor plans, ceiling plans, building sections, wall sections, building elevations, material/finish schedules, door/window/hardware schedules, interior elevations and lots and lots of details.
  • The engineering drawings represent every discipline including civil, structural, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, data/communications and fire protection. Within each disciplines section of drawings there are also plans, sections, elevations, diagrams, schedules and a lot of details.
  • The specifications outline the type of materials, the level of quality and important information on performing the work. There is a specification section for virtually every material and system in the project.
  • The construction documents are the primary tool for designers to communicate to the construction team on how to assemble the pieces and parts of the project.

Bidding/Pricing Phase

  • Assisting the owner with obtaining a price to construct the project.
  • Responding to inquiries from the bidders.
  • Getting the project to the point of breaking ground and starting construction

Construction Phase

  • Become the owner’s representative in reviewing the construction to assure that it is being built according to the drawings and specifications.
  • Work with the construction team to solve any challenges that come up during construction.
  • Work with the construction team to keep the project on schedule and on budget.
  • Respond to inquiries from the construction team regarding the intent of the design and the construction documents.
  • Review and process the enormous amount of data that occurs throughout construction including, submittals, shop drawings and payment requests.
  • Assist the owner in closing out the project and preparing for occupancy.

As FSB has been moving through the project phases with the Chickasaw Nation, the FSB Blog has been experiencing its own path through the cyber world of social media. It’s interesting for me to see where all the Blog has traveled and as it turns out the FSB Blog has been a world traveler. Word Press, which hosts the theme and URL site, has an interesting statistics engine. Since February 25, 2012, the FSB Blog has visited 22 countries worldwide. I suppose the correct way to state this is that there have been viewers from 22 countries that have visited the FSB Blog. This is the view of the globe through the FSB Blog. The list of countries with viewers is impressive or perhaps even mind blowing for the first time blogger.

Global FSB Blog ViewAs the host, creator and author of the blog, I can see the blogs view of the world, but at this time I’m interested in your view of the blog. For those of you outside the home town of the FSB Blog, Oklahoma City, USA, I would be interested in how you found the FSB Blog and where you are on the globe. Leave a reply below.


FSB Fred Schmidt, FAIA, LEED AP

1 Comment

Filed under Construction, Design, Interior, Materials

One response to “Design / the continuous thread

  1. Good article with an excellent way of presentation. Keep it up. Thanks for sharing.

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