The 5 Phases Of Design and How We Can Help

The 5 Phases Of Design and How We Can Help

The 5 Phases Of Design and How We Can Help 1000 750 KDA

Seeing Things From Our Client’s Perspecitve

Most people only build or renovate their home a few times in their life. Many of our clients are working with an architect for the first time. I stumbled across an unusual post by David Kim, AIA, where he describes the 5 phases of design. I was expecting it to outline the standard architectural phases as architects talk about them, but instead, it was from a client’s point of view. Architects tend to be very insular and focused, and we can forget that our jargon and even the way we conceptualize how a projected is designed, documented, and built is different from how a client experiences that same process.

Typically when Architects talk about the 5 phases of design, they are talking about:

  1. Programming
  2. Schematic Design (SD)
  3. Design Development (DD)
  4. Construction Documentation (CD)
  5. Construction Administration (CA)

Depending on the project the lines between these phases can be stark, but more often than not they are quite blurry, and these phases bleed into each other. Moreover, these phases are very particular to the duties and responsibilities of the architect and are not all that relevant to the client. Kim describes these five stages differently. From the clients perspective the 5 stages are:

  1. Originate
  2. Focus
  3. Design
  4. Build
  5. Occupy

Here is how Kim describes these Phases:

Phase 1: Originate
This first phase includes all of the discussions, thought, and exploration that lead to the moment when you realize you need to build something new. The phase ends with your decision to move forward with a project.

Phase 2: Focus
Here you define the project – its scope, features, purpose, and functionality. This is the time to select an architect and establish an owner-architect agreement. Together with your architect, you develop and refine a “vision” for the project. Your architect leads you through a “programming” exercise to help you explore the needs of those who will live, work or play in the space you create. You will identify the services you need from your architect, and the design team will begin to form a cohesive relationship and a shared concept for the final building.

Phase 3: Design
Once the requirements of the project are determined, the design phase begins. Your architect gives shape to your vision through drawings and written specifications. Your input into this phase is vital, as you get the first glimpses, and then a more defined look at how your building will take shape. It is important to establish a clear decision-making process with your architect during this phase. The design phase ends when you agree to the plans that will guide construction.

Phase 4: Build
The contractor who will construct your building becomes the most active member of the team during this phase. Investments are made in materials, and timetables are extremely important. Good communication within the project team is critical, as the need for changes often arises. This is typically the time of highest stress for the project owner. Your architect will discuss changes and options with you, and ensure that alterations are compatible with your vision for the project.

Phase 5: Occupy
This phase beings the day the project is up and running and never really ends. It’s where your satisfaction with the project is determined. If you are turning over the project to others who will ultimately use it, good communication during that process is important. Your architect can help ensure that the terms of your building contract were met, and can use the experience of this project to inform future work, should you team together again. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to maintain a relationship with your architect.

KDA is a client centric firm. We are dedicated to making this process as fun, engaging, and transparent as we can. We work hard to see this process from our client’s perspective and can be valuable partners in every of the five stages. We can help our clients originate the initial concepts of a project, and work with them to focus down on their wants, needs, and capacity. We are a full-service design firm that can document the project and manage the construction. And we are also determined to maintain our relationships with our clients after the building is occupied, to be there in case we are needed.

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