Why do we do it that way? Do we just make this stuff up?
Architects get a lot of grief from owners and contractors about our role in mucking-up what is perceived to be an otherwise streamlined process. It’s true, the Design Development phase of the design process can stretch out timelines a bit, but rest assured, the time invested up front is worth it in the end. The decisions we made at the front end of the process prevent the all-too-common event of ticking off the client with change orders. Design processes are based on experience, knowledge and yes, memories of a past job that fell short due to cut corners. See? There is a method to the madness.
Bridging the gap between conceptual ideas and detailed execution requires commitment to details. Someone has to sweat the small stuff, because if no one does, we all lose- especially the client. There was a stunning new medical clinic in a local market that incorporated great lines, excellent building practices with cutting edge technology. Unfortunately, the client purchased computer equipment without consulting the design team, not anticipating the HVAC adjustments that would be needed in response to the heat generated by the new equipment. As a result, several offices and patient suites were unusable because they were either too hot or too cold. HVAC is an issue that needs to be addressed during the design development phase of the design process. After occupying the space it was too late to address the issue economically, and sadly, patient and physician discomfort came to define an otherwise well-done project.
So, the next time an architect requests time for Design Development to do some extra research or schematic drawings, take a deep breath. The commitment to doing it right the first time ensures an excellent outcome for all.