Why We Program our Projects: is about the process licensed Architects go through to result in a quality design for their Clients.
Once in a big while, the Client of an Architect might wonder why the Architect insists on “programming” the project before starting to design.
After all: the Client is paying for the services and what they want is the design. So why not just get to that immediately? No need to analyze the land or the Client’s needs: just start designing…
Not so fast.
Let’s think about that: that sounds a lot like: “Shoot, Aim, Ready.” In other words: designing based on what? There’s no data on which to base the design.
Oh: you need information in order to design something? Only if you want the design to have any value and to actually solve problems and work with the Land and with the Lifestyle that is desired by the Client. What the Architect calls the “2 Ls”. So how do you find out information about the Client’s Land and Lifestyle?
So what is Programming? Mainly, it is a one-on-one discussion between the Client and the Architect, either in person or via video conference (such as Skype, which is free).
This discussion often lasts 3 to 6 hours. It is an Architect-led process wherein the Architect walks the Client through the various rooms of the house verbally, asking what the Client wants in each room or space. It is incumbent on the Architect to guess at the rooms and spaces the Client might want in the project. As the Architect leads the Client through the house (verbally), entering each room, the Client might say: “Oh, I don’t need or want a large formal dining room,” or similar comments and then the Architect strikes that room off his or her list of spaces, and moves on to the next.
You might think that this could be done more quickly. No it cannot. This is the one time where the Client and Architect completely talk about what spaces, rooms, and features will be in the house and project. This is the time to discuss the various appliances, furniture and other features that the house will have.
This is really not a time to go overboard on decorating or stylistic issues. Programming can address a host of issues, but its main intent is to resolve a list of rooms and spaces and the main functional features in those spaces and what is adjacent to what. This becomes the “Bible” for the design. It will be constantly referred to while the Architect is designing the house.
The Architect takes notes of the programming session. He or she then documents all of these comments in writing, often in MS Word or Outlook. Then the Architect emails this to the Client for review. The Client responds with the date and their initials (so you know who said what and when), and does this is a different text color. The original program is not to be changed. However, new comments modifying that are how to adjust it. That way, there is a running record of modifications. Until the final edition.
However, after 3 or 4 back and forth review comments, typically the Architect will need to say something like: “Okay, I think we are pretty much there with the Program. Now, let’s proceed to the Schematic Design.”
So: NOW the person to design the project has the information they need to do so. This assumes that the Architect has already analyzed the property on which the house is to be built.