design process

We like to discuss the building design process by describing its different phases.

Although chronologically outlined below, in reality the phases tend to overlap. We often revisit previous phases to make sure that all project goals are being met. You will notice an emphasis on quality communication with our clients. We want to make sure that everyone really understands the design so that the process proceeds in the most time efficient way.

Design Programming Phase

During the programming phase, the client and architect meet to define the project goals and talk generally about any desired aesthetic issues. These goals are the benchmark by which we will later look critically at the design direction. At AT, we also see this as a time to build trust in communication. The client needs to feel comfortable expressing feelings about the project design.

Schematic Design Phase

We begin the schematic design phase by translating the pragmatic and aesthetic goals into a preliminary 3D computer model. The computer model allows us to consider how the spaces work together visually and functionally. It also helps to prevent costly miscommunication of design intentions, by assisting the client in understanding the design direction at an early stage. Even during this schematic phase, the client can begin to see how the finished project will be experienced. We also begin to develop solutions for the approach to the site, solar orientation of the architecture, mechanical systems, and structure. Depending on the complexity of the project, we may include other design professionals such as engineers, landscape architects and interior designers.

Design Development Phase

Once the design approach has been established and a design scheme is selected, we continue to develop the design solutions in three dimensions. The level of detail described in the 3D model is determined by the complexity of the project and the client's wishes. The goal of this phase is to confirm that the client clearly understands the design as a desired architectural solution. This is an efficient design process; it makes it easier for the client to make design decisions, and reduces the chance of costly design changes during the Construction Documents or Construction phase. By the end of this phase, there is a close idea as to the total project cost.

Construction Document Phase

Construction documents describe the client's design decisions to the contractor. AT generally provides more detailed construction documents than other design firms do. We want to be sure that the contractor clearly understands how to construct the client's vision. Miscommunication between the architect, contractor and client is the number one reason why projects go over budget and take longer than they should.

Contractor Bidding and Negotiation Phase

The architect often assists the client in hiring the contractor, although sometimes the client already has a contractor before hiring the services of the architect. It is important to understand that the architect and contractor are hired separately and work directly for the client, not each other. BDA usually assists our clients in selecting a contractor. We review the design with each of the bidding contractors and also look at previous work. Our own experience as contractors helps us identify contractors who provide quality and value for our clients.

Construction Phase

When construction begins, the helm is taken by the general contractor, who supervises the project. If the client desires, our firm will inspect the work as it progresses, to make sure that the contractor performs to the standards required by the client, and as described in the construction documents. We work with the contractor to provide high-quality, cost-effective construction.

Post-Construction Phase

A project is successful to us when the client is wholly satisfied with it. We take the time to review the work with the client and reflect on the design process. At this time, we may assist the client in purchasing furnishings, or we may custom design them. AT often arranges for maintenance contracts. If the project was part of a phased series of projects, we also begin plans for future work with the client.


AT Inc. - architects
a r c h i t e c t u r a l    t e c h n o l o g y

sterling • massachusetts USA 01564
1+ 978.549.1406

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