THE DESIGN PROCESS AND RELATED GRAPHICS | Basics of Architectural Designing

Basics of Architectural Designing



The complexity of the design process requires that at various points along the way designers communicate aspects and outcomes of the process to clients and consultants. Like professionals, students must present in-process projects to team members, instructors, and guest critics. Visual presentations must vary to accommodate the process of design and to communicate both process and outcome.
In Interior Design Illustrated, Francis Ching identifies three basic stages of design process: analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. According to Ching, analysis involves defining and understanding the problem; synthesis involves the formulation of possible solutions; and evaluation involves a critical review of the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed solutions.
Interestingly, these three basic stages of design process are used by design practitioners in a variety of disciplines. Industrial designers, graphic designers, exhibition designers, and others often engage in a similar process. Of course, the design disciplines vary a great deal in terms of professional practice and final outcome. For this reason, actual interior design process and project phases are quite distinct and are more elaborate than the three basic stages may indicate.
For purposes of contractual organization, the process of design engaged in by architects and interior designers in the United States has been divided into five basic project phases:






These phases are derived from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Owner-Architect Agreement for Interior Design Services and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Interior Design Services Agreement. Both of these documents serve as contracts for design services and reflect the current design process and project management in the United States. Figure 2-1 is a description of design phases and related visual presentation methods.
Peña, Parshall, and Kelly, writing in Problem Seeking, identify the actual design process as taking place in the first three project phases. They state that “programming is part of the total design process but is separate from schematic design.” The authors go on to link schematic design and design development as the second and third phases of the total design process. This chapter is intended as an exploration of the three phases of the design process identified by Peña, Parshall, Kelly, and others and as a study of the drawings and graphics used to communicate, document, inform, and clarify the work done during these phases.
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The experienced, creative designer withholds judgment, resists preconceived solutions and the pressure to synthesize until all the information is in. He refuses to make sketches until he knows the client’s problem....Programming is the prelude to good design. (Peña, Parshall, and Kelly, 1987)
Programming, also known as predesign or strategic planning, involves detailed analysis of the client’s (or end user’s) needs, requirements, goals, budgetary factors, and assets, as well as analysis of architectural or site parameters and constraints. Information gathered about the user’s needs and requirements is often documented in written form, whereas architectural or site parameters are often communicated graphically through orthographic projection. These two distinct forms of communication, verbal and graphic, must be brought together in the early stages of design
Some firms employ professionals to work as programmers and then hand the project over to designers. It is also common for project managers and/or designers to work on project programming and then continue to work on the design or management of the project. It could be said that programmers and designers are separate specialists, given the distinctions between programming (analysis) and design (synthesis). However, many firms and designers choose not to separate these specialties or do so only on very large or programming-intensive projects.
In practice, programming varies greatly from project to project. This is due to variation in project type and size and to the quantity and quality of information supplied by the client (or end user). In some cases clients provide de
signers with highly detailed written programs. In other situations clients begin with little more than general information or simply exclaim, “We need more space, we are growing very fast” or “Help, we are out of control.” In situations such as the latter, research and detective work must be done to create programming information that will allow for the creation of successful design solutions.

It is difficult to distill the programming process used in a variety of projects into a brief summary. Clearly the programming required for a major metropolitan public library is very different from that required in a smallscale residential renovation. It is important, therefore, to consider what all projects relating to interior environments share in terms of programming.
All projects require careful analysis of space requirements for current and future needs, as well as analysis of work processes, adjacency requirements, and organizational structure (or life-style and needs-assessment factors in residential design). Physical inventories and asset assessments are required to evaluate existing furniture and equipment as well as to plan for future needs. Building code, accessibility, and health/safety factors must also be researched as part of the programming process.
In addition to this primarily quantitative information, there are aesthetic requirements. Cultural and sociological aspects of the project must also be identified by the designers. All of these should be researched and can be documented in a programming report that is reviewed by the client and used by the project design team. When possible, it is important to include a problem statement with the programming report. The problem statement is a concise identification of key issues, limitations, objectives, and goals that provide a clearer understanding of the project. With the programming report complete, the designers can begin the job of synthesis and continue the design process.

Residential projects generally require less intensive programming graphics. Programming is a significant element of the residential design process; however, the relationships, adjacencies, and organization of the space are often simplified in relation to large commercial and public spaces. For this reason the following discussion focuses primarily on commercial design, where a significant amount of visual communication of programming information is often required.
Clients, consultants, and designers require graphic analysis as a way of understanding programming data and information. Diagrams, charts, matrices, and visual imagery are comprehended with greater ease than pages of written documentation. It is useful to develop ways of sorting and simplifying programming information so that it can be easily assimilated.
Successful graphic communication of both the programming process and the programming report can help to create useful information from overwhelming mounds of raw data. A sample project created to illustrate the drawings and graphics used in the various phases of the design project is referenced throughout this chapter. Figure 2-2a contains written programming information regarding the sample project. Figure 2-2b is a floor plan indicating the given architectural parameters of the project.

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Many designers find it useful to obtain early programming data and incorporate it into graphic worksheets. Using a flip-chart pad, brown kraft paper, or other heavy paper, the programmers can create large, easy-to-read graphic documents. These sheets are created so that they may be understood easily by the client and can therefore be approved or commented on. Often the eventual project designers find these sheets useful as a means of project documentation.
The book Problem Seeking (Peña, Parshall, and Kelly, 1987) provides an additional tech
nique for the graphic recording of information generated in the early stages of programming, using a device known as analysis cards. Analysis cards allow for easy comprehension, discussion, clarification, and feedback. The cards are drawn from interview notes and early programming data. Based on the notion that visual information is more easily comprehended than verbal, the cards contain simple graphic imagery with few words and concise messages. The cards are most successful if they are large enough for use in a wall display or presentation and if they are reduced to very simple but specific information. Figure 2-3 illustrates program analysis graphics for the sample project. See Figure C-6 for a color version of a programming analysis graphic.
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Matrices are extremely useful tools in programming, incorporating a wealth of information into an easily comprehended visual tool. An adjacency matrix is commonly used as a means of visually documenting spatial proximity, identifying related activities and services, and establishing priorities. Adjacency matrices vary in complexity in relation to project requirements. Large-scale, complex projects often require highly detailed adjacency matrices. Figures 2-4 and 2-5 illustrate two types of adjacency matrix.
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A criteria matrix can distill project issues such as needs for privacy, natural light, and security into a concise, consistent format. Large-scale, complex design projects may require numerous detailed, complex matrices, whereas smaller, less complex projects require more simplified matrices. Criteria matrices are used in residential design projects and in the programming of public spaces. Smaller projects allow for criteria matrices to be combined with adjacency matrices. Figure 2-6 illustrates a criteria matrix that includes adjacency information. Special types of matrix are used by designers on particular projects.
Programming graphics, such as project worksheets, analysis cards, and a variety of matrices, are widely used in interior design practice. These are presented to the client or end user for comment, clarification, and approval.
Many of these graphics are refined, corrected, and improved upon during the programming process and are eventually included in the final programming report.


With the programming phase completed, designers may begin the work of synthesis. Another way of stating this is that with the problem clearly stated, problem solving can begin. The creation of relationship diagrams is often a first step in the schematic design of a project. Relationship diagrams serve a variety of functions that allow the designers to digest and internalize the programming information. Relationship diagrams also allow the designer to begin to use graphics to come to terms with the physical qualities of the project
One type of relationship diagram explores the relationship of functional areas to one another and uses information completed on the criteria and adjacency matrices. This type of one-step diagram can be adequate for smaller commercial and residential projects. Largerscale, complex projects often require a series of relationship diagrams. Diagrams of this type do not generally relate to architectural or site parameters and are not drawn to scale. Most specialized or complex projects require additional diagrams that explore issues such as personal interaction, flexibility, and privacy requirements.
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adjacencies, they can become refined into what are generally referred to as BUBBLE DIAGRAMS. Bubble diagrams take the project one step further in the schematic design process. Often bubble diagrams relate approximately to the actual architectural parameters (the building space) in rough scale. In addition, they often incorporate elements identified in criteria and adjacency matrices through the use of graphic devices keyed to a legend. Figures 2-7a–2-7e are a sequence of bubble diagrams for the create a masterpiece or a workable solution. It is often the combination of several diverse schemes that eventually generates a good solutio

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