Architectural Programming is the process than an owner and consultant team takes to plan and prioritize the spaces needed in a structure. Often times the owner will do this part of the planning on their own and give their program to an architect to begin the design phase. Other times, the scale or use of the project requires extra planning efforts to make the most use of the spaces required and to align the project with the goals the owner has outlined.
For instance, hotels depend on adjacency to function and ensure a positive guest experience. The welcome lobby should be near elevators, reception and bathrooms. Conference rooms and restaurants need access to the kitchen. There is an entire thought process behind how each room connects to the others to maximize space and provide a natural circulation for guests.
During programming the architect or consultants will review the following topics to prioritze the projects goals:
Code Analysis and Land Use/Zoning Restrictions
Site Layout with regards to visibility, service access, land utilization..etc
Space Requirements and Circulation
Safety and Security
Data Access and Technological Demands
Function and Efficiency
Human and Cultural Influences
Budgeting and Scheduling Forecasts
The value in programming comes in the form of future cost savings. Having pre-planned your exact square footage requirements, room adjacencies, all of the necessary functions of the space means there will be few reasons to change the drawings once they are established. Late-process design changes are often effect everything from the floor plan to materials and even code compliance. In addition, a completed understanding of the project budget and the cost per square foot will help building owners makes decisions that keep the project on budget and within the set construction timeline.
Scope of Work
At the completion of the programming phase, the client will be given documents that outline the findings, summarize the agreed upon program and show through matrices and bubble diagrams the initial plans for the space. The results will then complied into a finalized scope of work and incorporated into the design phase of the project.
In the End
It is almost always cheaper and more efficient to have a plan. Hiring an architect will save you the time and effort of researching and creating this plan. But if you would like to do that work yourself, here are some things you can do to ensure that your building project gets off on the right foot!
- Land Use – Always check local codes/zoning for the particular use you are planning before purchasing a property.
- Space Requirements – Really look at how many people and what functions will use each space. What types of spaces can be flexible, what is the most efficient circulation, how to the seasons affect your space/building/systems?
- Economics – What is your planned cost per SQ. foot for design, construction and finished space?
- Safety – What type of precautions and security features will be required and on which parts of the space?
- Technology – How and where do you need access to current and future technology.
- Codes – How many bathrooms are required? What are the ADA requirements? Do additional egress requirements change the floor plan you envisioned?
As you can see, there are a lot of considerations that can drastically change the layout, economics and function of your building. In programming you fool-proof the process and set yourself up for as few surprises as possible in the design and construction of your project.
An entrepreneur recently approached us to help him get a permit for some work on a new studio that he planned to open. The client had already purchased the building and began to plan his business out of this new space. Unfortunately after reviewing planning and zoning codes, the planned use of this building was not allowed. There seem to be no variances that will allow this business to go forward in this particular building. The client now owns a space that he cannot use. Engaging an architectural team before the real estate transaction would have saved this building owner a lot of future headaches.