Construction Schematic design

The design professional is responsible for producing a set of preliminary drawings as well as a written report, for approval by the owner. On a building project, the architect will take the lead in developing a design concept with plan, elevation and sectional views that meet the space and programme requirements. Engineers will develop concepts of how the various systems will fit into the facility: foundation systems, cooling and heating systems and data communication systems. These preliminary drawings may be freehand sketches, but they should illustrate the projects character and emphasise such aspects as harmony with the surrounding area and any improvements, architectural style, exterior appearance, planning and zoning requirements and overall structural concepts. Civil engineers will become involved in site analysis and layout, based in part on legal and topographic surveys prepared earlier, with some updating following site selection; features include topography, soil conditions, parking, access, utilities, setback requirements, water features, drainage, required easements and existing structures. Surveyors will continue their previous efforts with title searches, photogrammetry and on-site surveying and mapping. Special consultants may play a role in schematic design; one example might be an acoustical expert who would begin to advise on layout and basic features of a large auditorium.

As we noted earlier, most decisions regarding alternatives will have been made during the planning stage. Thus, an important characteristic of schematic design is that it emphasises the expansion of a single set of concepts rather than multiple options. One building agency of a US state lists the following schematic design drawings required after approval of the design concept (State of Mississippi, 2000):

 the basic design approach drawn at an agreed-upon scale;
 site location in relationship to the existing environment;
 relationship to master plans;
 organisation of building functions;
 functional/aesthetic aspects of the design concepts under study;
 graphic description of critical details;
 visual and functional relationship;
 compatibility of the surrounding environment.

That same agency requires the design professional to prepare narrative descriptions of the following building systems at the completion of schematic design:

 structure foundations
 floor grade and systems
 exterior/interior walls and partitions
 interior finishes
 sight lines
 stairs and elevators
 specialty items
 mechanical systems
 built-in equipment
 site construction.

A cost estimate will be prepared as a part of the schematic design effort. The State of Mississippi Planning and Construction Manual (State of Mississippi, 2000) requires that such estimates be based on adjusted square foot or cubic foot cost of similar construction in the area of the project or on a system cost study of the project, with appropriate cost escalation factors.

Figure 3.2 shows a project development schedule for a major engineering laboratory and classroom building at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA (Cornell University, 2001). Of interest are the several steps in the process, including schematic design, and the specialprogramme features of this project, including laboratory safety concerns, the need to demolishan existing building as part of Phase II and the involvement of university committees throughout the projects life cycle. Typically, 35% of the total planning and design effort has been expended upon completion of schematic design.


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