12 Dec 2017

Choices — It’s Everything!

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You have to love a buffet. A full buffet offers countless options. You don’t have to know exactly what you want, but you have so many options you can try everything. What a joy to have so many choices. You have to hate a buffet. A full buffet contains so many options it provides no discretion so you overeat attempting to try everything. What a mess to have too many choices. Maybe the best choice is a well-developed menu with the right blend of variety and quantity, like the detailed design phase in an architecture project where it’s not too much, but just right.

Every architect uses a similar design process. The titles and sequence may change but a typical design process evolves from a schematic design phase (which I call The Sketch) to a detailed design phase (appropriately, The Details) and a construction document phase (The Docs). Each phase requires it’s share of choices, but the choices made during The Details phase have the most potential to define the project and establish the budget

Choices — Define a Concept:

A design concept is the main idea that guides building layout, orientation and product selections. Options for each are infinite, but no project would ever finish if the architect entertained every available geometry, electrical fixture or floor finish. Architects simplify choices by basing selections on the project concept. In my children’s center project the concept is “PlAyFuL“, so I chose formal collision geometry with bold framed views and colorful products. In contrast, for a single-family home project, the concept is “heirloom” so I chose contrived geometry, traditional features and intricate patterns. The main concept makes choices easy, consistent and comprehensive so I develop a better working project. Once I create a good base project, I can establish a representative budget.

Choices — Create a Budget:

Any buyer who visits a salesperson to purchase a car, an outfit or jewelry must specify criteria or a budget to help the salesperson identify potential purchases. Either the specification dictates a budget or the budget defines the specification. For an architecture project I approach product selections the same way. A challenged budget dictates sensible, economic materials whereas a robust budget permits lavish materials. Referring to the sample projects above the children’s center required a strict budget so I chose a bold pattern sheet vinyl flooring. In contrast, the heirloom home project required vintage materials so I chose a quarter-sawn mesquite flooring. Budget is an integral choice in every successful architecture project.

Face it, choices are everything. Whether it’s what to eat for dinner, which vehicle to buy, where to spend the weekend or how to design a successful architecture project. Choices aren’t easy but developing a solid concept helps refine choices to create a working project and a realistic budget. After all, there’s no comfort in bursting a budget or a waist line.

Architalks Credits

This is another entry in Bob Borson’s blogging brain-child titled, “ArchiTalks”.

The #ArchiTalks goal is to inspire blogging architects with similar educational and professional requirements to opine on the same topic and simulpost their response so other architects and a broader audience can enjoy the rampant thought-diversity within the architecture profession

Select the links in “Architalks Entries” below to read how architects responded to the “Choices” topic.

image/video credits:

Architalks Entries

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)

Mark R. LePage – EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
Limit Their Stress By Limiting Their Choices

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Choices — It’s Everything!

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A million choices

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
How Do You Deal with Choices During the Design Process?

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Life is a Gamble that depends upon your choices

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Slow… merge… stop

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Choose Your Battles

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
ArchiTalks Choices

About the Author

Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 32 years experience in design, construction observation and life.