Many people believe that architects just “draw blueprints” but on the contrary, we do much more. Preparing drawings for construction is only one element of the service an Architect provides. Just as there is more to writing a novel than typing the manuscript, designing a building takes quite a few steps. Both are based on many hours of thought and exploration for the result to be of value. In fact, it is the architect’s thought, exploration, creativity and attention to detail before the final construction drawings are started, that impart value to the resulting project. Making it possible for such buildings to be frequently appraised for more than the cost of the land, construction and the architects’s fees.
The architecture process of architectural design can be broken down into six phases. Each phase focuses on a different aspect of the project. Though these phases sometimes overlap or are combined, depending upon the nature of the project, an understanding of each phase is important to fully grasp the scope of the design process.
Step I: Programming
Programming is essentially a time for information gathering. This is our time to listen to your thoughts and expectations. The information collected, both quantitative (lists) and qualitative (mood, character, feeling), is known as the building program and it directs the design work still to come.
Our role of listening, questioning and exploring during this initial phase usually facilitates your own understanding of what you want, and helps find common ground when clients have different opinions.
Thorough programming doesn’t take a tremendous amount of time, but it certainly requires more effort than simply listing the rooms and features you want. Other tasks also need to be accomplished before the start of design. A survey is prepared and factors affecting the building are analyzed. From the various approaches to building on the site are explored. If you are building an addition it is necessary to document the existing structure. Documentation includes taking photographs, surveying, and preparing drawings of these conditions. Even if you have original blueprints, some verification of existing condition will be necessary. A building is not always built exactly as per plan.
Step 2: Schematic Design
Design begins with preperation of rough sketches, referred to as Schematic Designs. The intent of this phase is to settle on basic decisions regarding a project’s layout, form, and overall appearance. Initially we focus on generating ideas regarding appearance and organization. We explore and evaluate these ideas with you using sketches, until a direction for the design is set.
The actual procedure will vary, usually 2 or 3 alternatives or approaches based on the program are generated. Discussing the pros and cons of each will usually provide a clear direction for the final design, which is developed from favored aspects of each alternative. The design direction set in this step is usually illustrated in Schematic Design drawings. These convey the overall design by illustrating shape, slope of roofs, approximate size and location of walls, windows, etc.
Step 3: Design Development
Additional decisions that refine the schematic design take place during Design Development. At this time, all decisions that are to be documented in the blueprints need to be made. There are still literally thousands of decisions, which need to be made in order to build. These include decisions about finishes, hardware, lighting, plumbing fixtures and cabinets. Other technical matters such as insulation type and placement, structural systems, and moisture protection must also be determined. What is critical about many of these decisions is that they impact other decisions. For instance, the depth of a structural member can affect the ceiling height in a room, the light fixtures, and the amount of insulation in a ceiling.
For each decision, it is important to work through a design to analyze and resolve any negative consequences. The more decisions made during this building design phase, and the more times one has worked through a design, the better the built product will be and the less likely unforeseen problems (and costs) are likely to arise during construction.
Step 4: Construction Documents
The next phase is to set down on paper all the decisions made to this point so that they will be incorporated into the built project. These documents consist of both drawings and specifications. The drawings illustrate the quantities and relationships of all work required to build the project. The specifications are written documentation outlining the levels of quality to be met in materials of workmanship.
By providing more information in these documents, there is a better chance of getting exactly what you want in the the built project. Vague drawings and specifications result in a vauge construction contract. Thus, anything contained in the documents is left to chance, or the contractor’s discretion. Also worth noting is that for many contractors who regularly work with architects, complete documentation means there will be fewer problems and delays during construction, since most decisions have been made before construction begins. This translates into lower and more definite construction costs.
Step 5: Hiring The Contractor
When the time comes to hire a contractor, we can aid in evaluating their qualifications and bids, and negotiating a contract. Bids should also be in a format that can be easily evaluated. As the Architect of your project, we are in the best position to provide this coordination by answering bidders’ questions, evaluating requests for substitutions, continue providing updated information to all bidders,
establishing a bidding format, and analyzing the often-confusing bids.
Step 6: Construction
Our involvement doesn’t end with the start of construction. We are available to act as your representative by monitoring the contractor’s work for conformation with the working drawings and contracts. Even the best two-dimensional documents cannot fully convey all aspects of a three-dimensional building without being open to interpretation. As your Architect, we know your project better than anyone else before it is built. We are the best and most qualified to provide assistance to insure the finished project is built as intended.
This assistance to the contractor usually consists of answering questions by phone, providing regular site visits to observe the work, providing supplemental drawings as requested by the contractor, reviewing shop drawings, material and product samples, and reviewing requests for project changes. Without our involvement in this phase, the final product can and usually does suffer.
We are very aware of how important the project is to our clients and what enormous emotional energy is lavished upon it, and how unnerving it is to be at the mercy of others in the shaping or reshaping of that built project. With this in mind, we are here to help and guide you through the process from beginning to end.
Sustainability and green building design have run through everything we do at our office for many years. The choices we make in terms of site, orientation, building envelope, roof overhang, mechanical system/efficiency, daylighting/lighting efficiency, building materials, as well as many other factors are all informed by a larger view towards sustainability, environmentally friendly architecture, sustainable architecture, and sustainable design, and innovation. We can also offer project LEED certification at an additional cost.
Client List and projects
Jewish Community Center of York
Skills of Central Pennsylvania
Strand Capital Performing Arts Center
York County Children’s Advocacy Center
York Fire Museum
York Housing Authority
Family of God Community Church
Greek Orthodox Church
Guinston Presbyterian Church
Quickel Lutheran Church
1st National Bank
300 S. George Street
American Daydream Antiques & Miscellanea
Dallastown Post Office
Dollar General Store
Dot Spot Store
Office Furniture Today
Penn Street Farmers Market
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
Prince Building Supply
Angel Ginn / The Black Pearl Restaurant
Chapps at the Hill
City Ice Rink Restaurant
Gamehaven Café & Bakery
Gunpowder Falls Brewing
Jalapeno Mexican Grill
Latucca’s Sub Bar
Mikado Grill & Sushi
The Nutrition Group
Paddock on Market
Pershing Avenue Tea Room
Sign of the Horse Brewery
Tailgater’s Grille & Drafthouse
White Rose Restaurant
York Coffee Company
Zeichen des Pferdes Bierhaus
Barbarian Custom Cycle
Daryman Auto Sales
Dick Hill Auto Parts
Rogers Auto Sales
Wright Bros. / Big Boyz Toyz
SALONS AND SPAS
Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa
Michele & Co. Hair Salon
Par Exsalonce Salone & Day Spa
Shortino’s Hair & Spa
Verdure Day Spa
46/48 West Philadelphia Street
Audio Visions BDP, Inc.
Battery Associates Berry Bearings
Be Your Best Athlete
Bonifate Dental Labs
Century21 Core Partners
Creative Engineers CTE, Inc
Crescent Industries Inc.
Lauer Construction (formerly Dorgan & Zuck Building Contractors)
Fairview Township Police Department
General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies
Gettle Law Firm, 13-15 E. Market Street
Integrated Defense Systems
Klepper’s Keys Building
L&S Machine Shop
MWI Services Inc.
Oak Tree Realty
O’Connor, Piper & Flynn
Pro Builders General Contractors
Rep. Todd Platts
Spangler & Boyer Mechanical Contractors Building
Stretch Wrap Systems
TG Books Veolia / Allied Oil & Chemical
York County Offices
York Indoor Golf & Training Center
York Train Station
Associates in Adult Medicine
Goodis Dental Office
Hart Psychology Building
Pediatric Care of York
Dr. Peters Family Eye Center
White Rose Physical Therapy