Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Architecture through ADD

For the past nearly-two years, I've been working on one project, doing several tasks at a time in the service of that project. While working for Jann for the past couple of months, I've been put in charge of four small projects, each with different timelines and issues involved. I come home worn out at the end of each eight-hour day because my brain has been jumping from project to project to task to task. I'm working on the following, all of which will be built at different times in the fall:
  • A 5,000 sf scope procedure department
  • A 9,000 sf radiology department
  • A two-room CT scan replacement
  • A three-room nuclear medicine remodel

My days are spent drawing a few hours and getting some info for Jann, then giving it to her and having her tell me, "Okay, now hold off for a while until I've had my meeting tomorrow afternoon." She directs me what to work on next, trying to keep things moving on the projects and keep me busy. Finally, we got good news yesterday during a meeting with the contractor for the procedure suite and the imaging suite (imaging = radiology in medicalspeak). The procedure suite can move forward immediately, so I've been given license to ill. After she meets with the owner and consultants tomorrow, we'll officially be in design development phase.

Okay, a quick rundown of the phases of a basic architectural project in order:

  • Schematic Design (2 weeks-4 months): this is when the architect and client work together to figure out how the rooms (and departments, in a larger building) will be laid out. Discussions include what order visitors and/or staff should go through the spaces as well as what should be close to or far from what. If it's a freestanding building or an addition, entry and exit points to the building are figured out and a basic exterior look is proposed, along with some exterior materials. When the owners sign off on the design, you move to the next phase.
  • Design Development (4 weeks-6 months): as the name suggests, the design gets developed. A few rooms might move around, but for the most part, nothing's moving. Interior finishes are introduced and worked through with the client. The architect meets with the client now to make sure that they understand the client's workflow and make sure that the proper cabinets/casework are located in the rooms, as well as check with them about equipment being installed and ensuring that all the right utilities are provided at each equipment and casework location. The mechanical, plumbing, and electrical engineers will meet at least once with the clients during this phase to make sure they are providing the right kind of air, power, water, gases, etc. If any exterior work needs to be done, the architect begins to figure out how to put the exterior together and makes sure it works. After the client signs off yet again, we move on.
  • Construction Documents (4 weeks-6 months): now the architect and her consultants do the heavy work of detailing the design, making sure that it will be very clear to the contractor how big things are, how they look, how the architect wants it built, where things stop and start and are located, etc. Lots of coordination happens during this time--the architect and her consultants trade electronic drawings on a regular basis to make sure ducts aren't conflicting with structural beams or fancy-schmancy ceilings and soffits, making sure pipes and ducts are coming out where the architect needs them to (or she might have to move some casework), etc. Finally, the drawings are printed, stamped and signed by the architect in charge, and we move on.
  • Bidding and Negotiation (2-4 weeks): this phase happens now if there was no contractor on board yet. Most of the projects I do hire a contractor early on so that they can get estimates on the drawings as the design process goes along. This helps on big projects, like hospitals, because you can keep a handle on costs and reduce the risk of delaying the project because of money. In these situations, the contractor will do a cost estimate exercise after DDs and at least once during CDs. However, if there's no contractor on board before CDs, the drawings are put out to bid and a contractor is chosen based on their bids for the project. Then, we start building.
  • Construction Administration (8 weeks+): like I said, we start building. The contractor mobilizes on site: gets a trailer or office onsite, secures the construction area, performs an demolition necessary (unless they've managed to pull a demo permit early in order to get ahead), and starts building stuff. The architect makes periodic visits to the site to make sure all is well and also answers questions. The architect also answers questions via email/fax from the contractor. More on that when I actually do it again in a few months. My radiology suite will be built in about 10 weeks. Larger projects, like my 70,000sf Wheatlands, required about two months of site work to prep the site and a year of building the building and parking lots. Pomme de Terre, which is a quarter to a half-million square feet and several buildings in all, started a year ago and will be done in 2012.

So, there you have it. It's the least I can do, since I haven't done a Detail of the Week in a month or more.

1 comment:

BaxtersMum said...

"license to ill"

ha ha ha ha ha

being a child in the 80s ROCKS!