There is one overarching goal common to all architecture companies: Improve client satisfaction levels while keeping the architect’s workflow manageable.
However, without a clear architecture design process in place, miscommunication can happen quite easily. This could leave clients believing that their comments haven’t been considered and the architects feeling lost in a sea of muddled requests.
With this aspiration in mind, this article will show you the best way to structure your architectural design process. These modifications will improve communication and coordination with clients by ensuring that their feedback is received and processed in a far more organized manner.
What Is the Architecture Design Process?
An architecture design process covers all of the steps that an architect needs to go through, from the first meeting with the client to discuss requirements to the first sketch drawings to the final construction plan for the creation of the new building. Whether it be drawing up floor plans or blueprints, a company’s design development process should remain consistent across all tasks and team members.
In any good creative process, you should be able to see a cyclicality in the method. This demonstrates a successful implementation of feedback and review loop – we will cover this critical component of the creative process in more detail below.
What Are the Design Phases of the Architectural Design Process?
An architectural design process should adhere to the golden rule for creative companies – a strong content review process is essential. Although some elements of the process can differ between organizations (depending on the particular preferences and working style of the design team), a strong workflow should involve the following five architectural design process steps:
1. Pre-Design Phase: Programming
Initially, the architect for the project will meet with the client to discuss their vision and requirements for the building, as well as any other additional elements. In this preparatory pre-design phase, the scope of the task, its necessary features, functionality and the vision for the building all need to be defined.
At this stage, the architect and the client can work together to create a briefing. Then, with this research conducted and the knowledge gained from it on hand (to refer back to throughout the remainder of the process), the architect is well-equipped to fulfill the client’s expectations.
2. Schematic Design (SD)
Now that the key information has been collected, the architect assembles these initial ideas into a design for the building that fulfills the client’s requirements.
To start off the design process, the schematic design phase requires the architect to create a rough sketch of the building. This will illustrate the first proposal for the new project.
The schematic design drawing should allow the architect’s ideas to take shape while serving as a flexible basis for alternative ideas and finalized decisions.
To better communicate with your client, you should ensure that your schematic design phase includes an effective review and approval process.
Filestage is a fantastic tool to assist with the review and approval process. Through this collaborative platform, architects can easily share the preliminary sketch with clients. The clients can then use Filestage to leave their comments and discuss any further ideas directly on the sketch.
This all-in-one feedback solution helps architects understand any required changes, and keeps the client’s wishes at the forefront of the team’s minds when creating the next drawing of the building.
3. Design Development (DD)
Once the first round of client feedback has been incorporated into the building plans, the drawings and specifications become more detailed and intricate. The previous drawing is amended in accordance with the client’s feedback, and the client’s final approval will be taken to the next step of the process.
In the design development phase, a more detailed, 3D drawing of the building is created as the ideas of the architect evolve.
This drawing should give ideas substance through a far more realistic illustration. It should demonstrate that the project is indeed fully considered and entirely possible to create.
Filestage provides an intuitive tool that makes this step of the design process much easier. The cloud-based platform can be used to share the drawing with your client.
With Filestage, you can quickly and easily manage the second round of feedback and receive ultimate approval from the client. Moreover, Filestage makes that feedback accessible in a clear and formal way, helping the architect accurately follow up on any changes. Beyond keeping clients in the loop, this ease of use will also save the team significant time.
4. Construction Drawings (CD)
In this next step of the architectural design process, the architect creates construction drawings out of the final design. These highly-technical drawings will be used by the building constructors. They will also be submitted for the request of a permit.
Through these drawings, the architect is able to communicate proposed plans to any outside stakeholders who may become involved at this stage. As such, the plans must include key information like the set parameters for the building process. The drawings also contain a detailed description of the structural and interior components of the property.
Throughout this step, the advice and expertise of other individuals is essential. Therefore, the architect will regularly converse with consultants and the client throughout this step – regarding matters such as the interior design and the plumbing or the engineering of the project. Thereafter, the design will be altered to ensure that all elements have been fully considered and incorporated.
5. Construction Administration (CA)
At this final point in the process, the architect witnesses their plans take shape as their finalized blueprints are used to create the physical building. However, even though the drawings are finished, this doesn’t mean that the architect is off duty.
Throughout this step, the architect will monitor the building’s construction, visiting the site in person to ensure that the work taking place is fully in accordance with the information outlined in the construction documents. In this role, they are also responsible for ensuring that the construction standard contracts are fully administered.
By overseeing the progress on the building site, the architect can be certain that the project exactly fulfills all of the client’s requirements.
The Benefits of the Architectural Design Process
By using a clear and stringent design process to govern your architectural workflow, you are taking a big step towards process improvement. This far more organized way of working delivers a whole host of benefits to your operations.
For anyone who’s still not fully convinced that it’s worth making the switch, we’ve listed the top three benefits of implementing an architectural design process below.
Making your designs the best that they can be
By regularly asking for and incorporating feedback, and by inviting in the expertise of the people around you, you are ensuring that you are consciously improving your work performance. This process enables architects to seek continuous feedback, and then reshape their design accordingly. It is this process of fine-tuning that ensures the regular reshaping of the design until it is the best that it can be.
Improved customer satisfaction
From the client’s perspective, they can see that their contracted architect is regularly inviting their opinions and then revising their work accordingly. This results in a client who feels involved and satisfied with the service that they have received. It will ensure that your company achieves a fantastic level of customer satisfaction, too.
Clear and regular communication
This process promotes clear, regular and professional back-and-forth conversations between the client and the design team. This benefits both the architect and the client alike – clarity in communication means that both parties are fully informed of the other’s thoughts. The architect can work to include all of the client’s requirements and wishes, while the client can completely see the designer’s vision for the project.
How to Improve Architecture Design Process Efficiency
While there are several key components within this process, many of the finer details are designed to be flexible. This allows users to shape the process into one which best fits their firm’s specific needs. By taking an intuitive approach, project managers can significantly improve the project management process.
If you’re ready to transform your design operations and introduce this process into your company, we’ve also included some easily adaptable takeaways that you can use to improve efficiency.
Involve your client as much as possible
Especially the pre-design phase is important to understand your client’s needs and wishes right from the start. This makes it far easier to design a building that satisfies their requirements. Also in the following design phases, you should consistently keep your client involved to make sure the planning goes in the right direction.
Establish a clear review and approval process
Develop a clear process for the review and approval of your construction documents. If this is not clear for everyone involved, approval can be very time-consuming and even lead to misunderstandings. By ensuring that you discuss different ideas and opinions clearly and regularly from the outset, you can avoid expensive last-minute changes in the construction phase.
Evaluate each finished process
By evaluating your entire design process, you can identify potential areas for improvement with far more accuracy. After a project, ask your clients for feedback on the process to find out what worked well and which step needs improvement. These step-by-step adaptations of your process ensure that your workflow is flexible and can be shaped, improved and adapted to best suit the needs of your team.
Architecture Design Software to Get Started
As you can see from the information provided above, there are many benefits to be gained by implementing a strong architectural design process into your workflow. Additionally, to make an architectural graphic design process the most efficient and client-oriented that it can be, the strength of your creative tools is of paramount importance.
Below, we’ve recommended several dependable, highly specialized pieces of architecture design software.
Filestage – a modernized design review and approval process
Filestage provides a centralized platform where designs, drawings and construction documents can be shared with clients and colleagues. The online proofing software allows clients to leave clear feedback on the document, making it easier for architects to understand clients’ wishes and adapt accordingly. Moreover, when drawings match with clients’ requirements, clients can approve the file with just a single click.
With its intuitive features and interface, Filestage simplifies the review and approval process for both the architect and the client. This efficient, collaborative tool replaces long email threads and reduces the need for in-person or even virtual meetings.
Additionally, Filestage will successfully bring clarity and professionalism to your architecture design process, transforming the way that you ask for feedback.
SketchUp – powerful 3D modeling application
SketchUp makes design development a seamless, intuitive and highly organized process. You can create intricate, detailed building designs in 3D and then annotate your drawings and specifications with 2D details, plus add text descriptions and notes.
This 3D modeling website is one of the most intuitive, powerful and industry-leading tools of its kind. It is designed to assist professional creatives from a wide variety of backgrounds and digital skill levels.
SketchUp can also make collaborative work simpler. Architects have praised the platform’s free version and the highly professional feel that the program provides its users, particularly when showing their work to clients.
Cedreo – user-friendly floor plan software
Cedreo is a highly intelligent yet notably easy-to-use floor plan software. It’s designed to simplify the design tasks that architects complete on a daily basis, making them far more efficient, and resulting in sleek, professional and visually impressive designs.
Cedreo enables both architects and clients to see their visions come to life at an extremely early point in the process. Its instant 3D visualization tool boasts a wide range of features, including photorealistic 3D renderings, wall openings and roofing, an extensive library of templates, pre-existing downloadable floor plans and even home decoration additions to the drawing.
Chief Architect – professional home design software
Chief Architect is an online home design software developed for architects, interior designers, kitchen and bath designers, remodeling professionals and home builders. Its website is specifically designed for the design processes in architecture and includes numerous dedicated residential design tools.
Chief Architect brings the initial ideas of architects to life, creating intricate and hyper-realistic three-dimensional drawings of homes. Users can easily create everything from construction drawings and elevations to 360-degree panoramic renderings. All the while, the software ensures that this work is given a sleek, professional and stylish finish.
Floorplanner – simple and effective design software
Floorplanner is dedicated to assisting with the creation of floor plans. Its creators pride themselves on the tool’s ease of use – stating that the software can be used without prior training. It represents an intuitive yet far more user-friendly alternative to CAD software.
Floorplanner can be used to create simple line drawn 2D floor plans which can then be decorated with 3D items and furnishing (from the website’s extensive library of over 150,000 items). Additionally, the plans can be made 3D with just a click of a button.
In any design process that involves multiple interested parties, it is absolutely essential that the creator carefully implements all the feedback that they receive. This is how you make the end result the best that it can be.
A dependable and well-established architecture design process is of paramount importance so that you can incorporate suggestions from fellow members of the company’s design team, implement the advice of the project manager or modify your work in accordance with the client’s wishes.
These well-considered phases of architectural design are your ticket to high levels of customer satisfaction as well as to architectural designs of superb, professional quality.