Architecture Pre-Design: Where to Start When Designing a Commercial Building

There are several phases of architectural design. Before an architect gets into the structural design schematics of a building, there are some preliminary steps that need to be attended to. This first stage is called the pre-design phase. Here is a brief explanation of what an architecture firm must do in the preliminary stages of a building design.

Pre-design is a phase of analysis that takes place after funding is made available for a project and before actual design begins on a building. During the pre-design stage, architects will collaborate with clients to determine long-term goals and try to anticipate any obstacles during the entire design process. During the pre-design phase, it is wise to anticipate problems that could impede budgets and schedules.

The pre-design phase is largely focused on determining what the client wants in order to set the stage to begin the actual building design. It’s also important to thoroughly research all the local codes and regulations before diving into the design in order to prevent abandoning the entire project because of a major oversight.

The pre-design meetings with clients should determine the important points that will guide the project program. The program gives a sense of the scope of a project, and it determines the space requirements for various functions of the people who will work in the building. A thorough pre-design process clearly defines and creates a roadmap for the entire design process that creates a bridge between theories, ideas and drawings.

If it’s the first time that a team is building a specific type of building, they should familiarize themselves with various aspects of that type of structure. Research for the project should include the types of spaces that are typically used in the building and the overall square footage per person or per unit for the structure. This research also determines the costs per square foot and various codes and requirements.

Another important concern is budget. It’s important to thoroughly list all of the costs involved in a project before the design phase begins. This could avert spending time and money on a project that has to be abandoned due to insufficient funding. To determine costs, it might be necessary to consult with experts on lighting, landscaping, electrical engineers and other technical experts.

It’s important to determine goals and intentions during the pre-design phase. Ask the client and determine what you are trying to accomplish for the community or the organization. Create a vision for the project, determine the client’s needs and understand what they want. Figure out how architectural design can provide what the client wants and needs for their business or organization such as site access and the views they will see from various windows. All of these observations should be documented.