How Architecture Works
Architectural design is often described in terms of three distinct phases: Schematic Design (SD), Design Development (DD), and Construction Documents (CD). A basic understanding of the process and sequence of design, and the roles of the key participants, helps to alleviate much of the anxiety and confusion associated with building projects.

The Schematic Design Phase (SD)
follows the Functional Space Programming process and provides a graphic, scaled representation of each required space. These room-by-room plans (usually 1/16 inch scale) are also formatted according to conclusions drawn in the master planning phase, which delineated the arrangement of each department and identified flexibility requirements for future expansion or change. Alternative concepts are developed as they are revealed by the creative process of design. The SD plans provide the client and architect with a communication tool to demonstrate the architect's interpretation of the client's requirements and priorities. Often, the schematic plans will show furnishings, fixed and movable equipment in order to demonstrate space use, aesthetics and operational aspects when necessary to confirm that the design will satisfy functional program requirements.

The Design Development Phase (DD) is intended to take the design to a higher level of detail (short of construction documents) and requires the involvement of decision makers. Ideally, the layout of the individual rooms that evolved during schematic design should remain unchanged; the focus of design development (DD) should be restricted to design and to the precise layout of cabinetry, shelving, counters, fixed equipment, furniture, and pieces of major movable equipment within the room.
is ultimately responsible for achieving compliance to the myriad of codes and regulations that govern the design and construction of healthcare facilities, obtaining the necessary design approvals from the various state and local agencies, monitoring the estimated construction costs at various phases during the design, and in coordinating the services of numerous design professionals including structural, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers, landscape architects, communications, lighting, acoustical, elevator, and traffic consultants, interior designers, construction cost estimators, and several other disciplines. The project architect works with the owner from the initial design studies through the completion of construction. Staff architects, including designers, specification writers, equipment specialists, and others, are periodically assigned to the project at various phases, as needed. It is important to recognize that, for every architect attending a meeting with a building owner, there are many more other professionals working "behind the scenes." Consequently, achieving clear, concise, accurate, and timely communication is the single most difficult challenge in managing a successful design and construction project.

The Construction Document Phase (CD) constitutes the preparation of bidding documents that will be used for permitting and for constructing the building.  This phase is the most complex and technical and on larger projects involves structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection engineering.  The coordination of all these disciplines and technical material is the business and responsibility of the project architect.

The Architectural Firm is ultimately responsible for achieving compliance with codes and regulations that govern the design and construction of each building type, obtaining the necessary design approvals from the various state and local agencies, monitoring estimated construction costs at various phases during the design, and in coordinating the services of numerous design professionals including structural, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers, landscape architects, communications, electrical, lighting, acoustical, elevator, and traffic consultants, interior designers, construction cost estimators, and several other disciplines. The project architect works with the owner from the initial design studies through the completion of construction. Staff architects, including designers, specification writers, equipment specialists, and others, are periodically assigned to the project at various phases, as needed. It is important to recognize that, for every architect attending a meeting with a building owner, there are many more other professionals working "behind the scenes." Consequently, achieving clear, concise, accurate, and timely communication is the single most difficult challenge in managing a successful design and construction project.