Functional Requirements of Construction Project

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Special functional requirements of the proposed project, such as auditoriums, laboratories, or computer spaces, may require that special investigations be made of humidity; waste treatment, radiation shielding, and power supply before programming can be completed. Only when all necessary information has been gathered and collated can the program be approved by both client and architect, and the actual design undertaken. Such special analyses will stretch out the programming phase of the architect's services.


Actual design begins with the architect's preparation of schematic designs, the simple functional or space diagrams that illustrate an analysis of the project requirements as set out in the program. In preparing schematics, the architect's intuition as an artist alternates with his or her objective judgment as an engineer or scientist. Several solutions to the design problem may be developed and presented to the client. These will be illustrated by simple line drawings showing the alternative solutions to problems of site development and volume and space interrelationships within and without the proposed structures. These will be accompanied by brief written statements generally describing the solutions regarding overall design approach, structural and mechanical systems, materials, and probable costs. The architect will, of course, recommend one solution above all others, but may fully prepare alternative schematic solutions so that the client will gain the best possible understanding of the requirements of the project. A presentation is then made to the client, often employing the use of slides, simple perspectives, and models in order to secure the owner's approval of the best solution.

The approved schematic solution then enters the design development phase of the architect's services. Here it is the architect's objective to fix and illustrate the entire project in all its essentials. The materials prepared during this phase will form the basis for the construction documents and will determine the actual form and character of the final building. This phase of service is the heart of the architectural process, and full collaboration between the architect, client, and all of the special consultants is vital to the project's success.

Through this collaboration, the architect directs the preparation of drawings, outline specifications, cost statements, and other materials as may be required to bring to all the persons involved a full understanding of the intended size, shape, and cost of the pro-posed project. Again, at the conclusion of this phase, the architect makes any presentations necessary to fully inform the client about the details of the project. In the case of public buildings, especially where bond referendums need be held to finance projects, such as school buildings, the architect must make presentations at public hearings, zoning boards, and city or county councils. The architect will also want to participate in newspaper campaigns and other methods of public education when working on public buildings.


When the design development materials are approved, the architect prepares the final construction documents. These include the working drawings and specifications that show or describe in detail all the work to be undertaken by the building contractors in the construction of the project. Their quality depends on the accuracy of cost estimates of the work and the effectiveness in constructing the building as it was designed by the architect. Thus, the architect and project consultants take special care to see that these documents are complete and accurate so that they are understandable both in the offices of the architect and the contractor and at the project site in the midst of the construction.

When the drawings are complete (often fifty or more sheets, depending on the size and complexity of the project), they are sent to the printer and the familiar blueprints are made from them. The specifications receive a final editing. Then they are printed and bound in a volume along with various bond and insurance forms, sample construction contracts, and similar contract documents prepared by the owner's legal and insurance counsel assisted by the architect. This volume will usually be hundreds of pages in length. A final, detailed cost estimate is usually made at this time to predict, as closely as possible, the actual price the contractor-bidders will quote for doing the work as designed and specified.


The printed construction documents are then distributed to various construction contractors for their bidding or negotiation. The purpose of this phase of the architect's services is to select from among qualified contractors the one who will do the work shown and described in the document for the lowest dollar figure. It usually takes contractors about thirty days to assemble their figures, whereupon they each submit their own bid to the client. The qualified contractor who submits the lowest bid is then selected by the client in consultation with the architect. An owner-contractor agreement covering the construction of the project is executed by the client and the selected contractor.

Construction may now begin. On many projects, more than nine months are consumed by the design process-that is, from the day the client selects the architect to the day the contractor moves onto the construction site. This will vary, of course, with the size and complexity of the project. In addition, on some projects, particularly manufacturing facilities, construction may start almost immediately after the first schematic designs are approved. Here the client, architect, and contractor are in constant collaboration. The architect designs, the client approves, and the contractor builds on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour schedule.


During the construction phase, the architect provides general administration of the construction contract. The architect must check the bonds and insurance materials furnished by the contractor, check shop drawings and samples submitted by the contractor, and prepare any supplemental drawings or other interpretations required to clarify the construction documents. The architect then checks the results of specified tests, issues orders for any changes approved by the client, processes the contractor's billings to the client, checks required guarantees, and advises both client and contractor on the progress and quality of construction. A final certificate is then issued by the architect when all terms and conditions of the construction contract have been satisfactorily fulfilled.
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