WHAT IS PRE-DESIGN
Pre-Design is a process that defines the function of the development in terms of building and site, with respect to budget and schedule. It translates the client’s hopes, wishes and wants into what the client really needs. This is a collaborative process between Predesigners and a client. It is an ongoing interaction where the client is required to give inputs and make decisions based on the findings and alternatives presented by the Predesigners. It validates and balances client’s needs against the constraints of site, budget and schedule. In a way, pre-design simulates the design process, at a fraction of the cost and time. This is done at the formative stage of clients’ development strategy, long before the search for an architect.
Predesign starts with a good understanding of the client’s goals and objectives. The objectives lead to strategic initiatives such as the development project. All the functional spaces in the project are listed, their users, functions, relatioships and special requirements are analyzed. This forms the basis for developing “net” area statement for each space. The net aggregate area statements are converted into “gross” area statements to include circulation ares, utility spaces etc. This is done by using standards for the type and quality of the building. This too forms the basis for the development of construction budget.
Building gross areas and other outdoor requirements are checked against the site for its adequacy as well as proper utilization. The total budget is developed by adding hard costs (building and site) and soft costs (fees, licenses, insurance etc.). Similarly the development schedule is developed.
All of this is done without the benefit or the need of design, and gives client a clear picture of what the intended development entails. Most importantly it gives them a chance to balance the architectural program against the site, budget and schedule. Very often the Predesigners offer alternative scenarios or adjustments for architectural program and site development. For all practical purposes, the client does not have to wait for a hard lined design to make these critical decisions. They can be made ahead of time.
WHO NEEDS PREDESIGN
Predesign is a must for Corporate, Institutional, Government and Semi-government clients. In fact, it is essential for all “Facility Owners” who hire architects and build, occupy, maintain and expand on their own facilities. This clientele, due to its nature, is not composed of a single “client”, but consists of a body of individuals representing different departments of the organization. Many of their needs are in conflict with each other. A Predesigner as an integral part of the team, brings his skills as an observer, a pragmatist, a researcher, an analyst and most of all, as a mediator, to resolve the issues. Many a times the client body has difficulty in articulating their needs which a Predesignercan translate into a language that a designer can understand.
The typical method of the client communicating with the architect during the design phase results in design revisions causing cost over runs and delays. More importantly it compromises clients’ goals as well as architects design intents. Predesign, therefore is an invaluable tool for “risk management”, both financially and qualitatively for facility owners.
WHAT ABOUT ARCHITECTS
In developed countries, the Owner Architect contracts require that the client furnish a predesign document to the design architects, prior to proceeding with the design. The reason for this is thatpredesign is also essential for design architects, They get a thorough understanding of the design problem and the requirements to be met in offering the design solutions. Instead of starting with bare essential requirements at the beginning of the projects and then receiving more and more information as it trickles in during the design process, predesign gives the designer a good understanding of client’s needs upfront. This eliminates constant revisions during the design, compromising the original design intent.
For this reason we have conducted predesign seminars for architectural students for helping them in design and thesis projects. So much so, that Council of Architecture (COA) has not only sponsored predesign seminars for architectural faculty nationwide, but is also publishing our book on predesign as an aid in teaching the subject. It is just a matter of time before predesign become a part of architectural curriculum.
WILL PREDESIGN PREVAIL IN INDIA
We believe that sooner than later, corporate clients in India will feel the need for predesign as a competitive advantage, and seek the services of Predesigners here. Our ongoing educational initiatives for students and forthcoming training sessions for architectural professionals will help create a cadre of Predesigners to fulfill this need. Many facility owners, like their counterparts in developed countries, will start employing architects intheir own real estate (facilities) departments for developing space standards, doing in-house renovations and developing predesign documents for new construction.
This will open a whole new supplemental service for the benefit of architectural profession and client community.