Total Project Management allows the generation and discovery of information up front, when it can be used to get the most realistic bids, not after a contract for construction has been signed.
Thinking about the entire project at a conceptual level in terms of budget, site, lifestyle and schedule. Weighing these elements in relation to each other. At this stage, there will be decisions regarding the size and scope of the project, such as the realtionship of the house to the rising and setting sun - to views and to neighbors.
Masterplanning takes into account local zoning and planning criteria, site constraints and opportunities. Several hard facts of the case have been determined regarding lot setbacks, floor ratios allowed, view corridors and daylight planes, and parking requirements. Land use issues must be considered on rural and semi-rural sites, as well as access to utilities and an estimate of their expense in serving the site. Thorough masterplanning helps to ensure a smooth-running project.
What are your space needs? What are the important spatial relationships in your life patterns? How many children? How many cars? Kitchen, dining room, family room relationships. Walk-in closet? Guest bedroom? Mud room off of the garage? Careful and thorough programming ensures a smooth-running household.
Schematic design is a focal point in thinking about a project. It is where all known client, site and context parameters meet in the arena of the architect's imagination. This is the phase of an architect's professional life that receives the most attention, by far, during school, and it is the phase during which the famous napkin sketch appears for its role as the first evidence of a governing formal idea.
If there is a muse, it is during this phase in which she appears. If a project is infused with passion and creativity and knowledge, then these things are present during the schematic design work. This is architecture at its most lyrical, poetic, joyful stage. This is the stage where great concepts are born.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed the entire form of his postage stamp icon "Fallingwater" in a two hour burst of schematic design, just prior to a client visit. I.M. Pei conceived the final triangular form of the National Gallery on a napkin during a flight from the Far East. I have spent thousands of hours of schematic design on a very wide variety of projects.
Schematic design is typically great fun. Architects of all levels of experience have equal access to their inspirational muse, but when that contact is informed by a career in the technical trenches solving difficult architectural problems, there is a great benefit for the client. I have twenty-five years of hard-won experience that gently leads my muse toward realistic, buildable-yet-inspirational architecture.
Imagine a symphony conductor trying to guide his orchestra in playing a brilliant compostion without sheet music. Construction drawings are the sheet music for the general contractor and all of the tradesmen who will build your house. If these drawings are thorough and accurate, your project will be music.
I have spent eighty percent of my twenty-five year career creating designs and their associated construction documents. During this work, I have encountered and solved thousands of construction challenges in dozens of building types. All of this experience with steel, wood, concrete, glass, and hundreds of other materials has prepared me to solve any problems that may arise in a residential project of any scale. Thorough construction documents are vital to controlling costs on a project.
As a student at the University of Washington and at Harvard, I studied structures for five and a half years, with courses in wood, steel and concrete design taught by America's greatest structural engineers. As a residential architect, I resurrected that training and augmented it with knowledge of state of the art procedures, so that I can offer my clients one-stop architectural and structural services. With structural design in-house, it is possible to carefully coordinate the structural demands of your house with your desire for light and space.
A key to successful architecture is the integration of all aspects of structure, materials, color, texture and pattern. My experience detailing the most durable and elegant materials used in high-end commerical interiors has given me a broad understanding of the use of stone, tile, terrazzo, solid wood, wood veneer, glass, concrete, fabric and paint.
One can build a brilliant work of architecture, but if the last fraction of an inch, that is the fraction we see (the wood, tile and paint), is not skillfully selected, then the intended effect is compromised. Color has a logic that is as rigorous as that of form and space. Just as music has the potential for "rightness," color must be in tune, rhythmic, and emotionally meaningful.
Every homeowner is aware of countless varieties of appliances, fixtures, fittings, kitchen and bath accessories, carpet types, tile and stone and wood veneers, doors, exhaust fans, warm air register grilles, handles, hooks, knobs, and countless other interior design options. I help my clients navigate this ocean of variety.
Each of these items has established criteria for its description and analysis. There are industry standards, third party reviews, and government standards - this information can help a homeowner make informed decisions. Style is born of the intelligent coordination of these details.
This is a simple process of selecting qualified contractors to generate realistic bids using a thorough set of construction documents. Without the excellent documents, bid management has little meaning. The laborious process of checking qualifications, licensure, insurance and refernces is best carried out by an industry professional, not a homeowner, unless they are eager for the experience.
Once bids are received from the contractors, they must be analyzed for apples-to-apples rationality in order to compare them. This is a very specific proess that is greatly informed by experience in the building delivery process. I have saved clients hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single project by skillful bid management.
The Blake Group-Architects offers a wide range of construction phase services that vary according to bidding climate, the skill and interests of the general contractor, and the wishes of the homeowner.
The traditional involvement of the architect is to assist in the composition of the contract for construction, review of work progress for payment, responding to field questions, reviewing shop drawings and verifying project completion.