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How Commercial Building Plans Can Help You Refine Your Building Design Vision

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © thelittleone417 | Flickr

Commercial building plans evolve over time as you travel through the different stages of creating your building, from schematic all the way through to your construction document set. As your original architectural design concept materializes in the beginning, you soon begin to anchor in those building design ideas that need to be finessed and built upon as your design process moves forward.

But I have some questions for you today…

Do you still continue to design with the same amount of creativity as you delve into each stage of your building design process? In other words, are you more strategic and creative at the beginning during the schematic stage as compared to your design development phase? And how do you work with your team as your commercial building plans evolve through your various design process stages? Does your building design get handed off to others at certain stages? Or is there someone seeing the project through at all stages? And how do these different methods of working affect your end result?

I ask these questions because I am curious to learn about what happens to your design when focus shifts from a grand design gesture to a more detailed design nuance. Also, I am interested in what happens to your design if it pushes through different teams of people as it passes from stage to stage. Whatever your case may be, make sure that the following occurs:

1. Make sure the design is getting better so its details reflect the statements made that were grander design gestures earlier on. Be sure to leverage your programming phase with strategies that will meet many requirements and preferences, as this will set the stage for the whole project.

2. Make certain that the underlying design intent in terms of building perception which impacts effectiveness is known at all stages of your architectural design process. For instance, your particular vision of a school design for special needs learning should be described and understood at all stages — for example, later details like color or texture can make or break a design idea formulated during the programming stage.

3. Be certain that the details that you wind up with at the end of the construction document phase will indeed meet the programming needs you set out to fulfill in the beginning of the project. This may seem obvious, but there are times where designs get “shifted” and “molded” into something much different as was decided upon in early design process stages. Just be sure that what you wind up with, is what was originally wanted (unless its better!).

In the end, your commercial building plans become a vehicle by which you can explain the experience you want your client and building occupants to enjoy within your building. At each phase, you have the opportunity to further cement your ability to meet those needs and make their positive experience a reality.

So now let me ask you, what methods do you use in your firm to ensure quality control throughout the creation of your commercial building plans? How do you hand ideas off to different people involved in the design? And how do you ensure that the original design vision is carried throughout your buildings’ design process phases? Is there a team leader in charge of all phases throughout? Or are there different teams that take on different buildings at different stages? Or do you use another system? Please let me know what your system is, as well as its pros and cons.

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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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