Exploring the Stages of Architectural Design

Exploring the Stages of Architectural Design

What are the stages of architectural design?

  1. Schematic design
  2. Design development
  3. Construction documents
  4. Bidding and contract awarding
  5. Construction administration


  • Architectural design education is a process that guides architecture students from basic concept sketches to the creation of detailed construction documents, preparing them for their professional careers.
  • Each phase of architectural design, from schematic design to construction administration, is crucial for students, gradually building their skills from theoretical knowledge to practical application in the field.

Architectural design is a journey from initial ideas to finished buildings. It’s where architecture students take their first steps in turning classroom lessons into real-world structures. Mastering these stages prepares students for successful architectural practice, grounding their creativity in a structured and practical.

In this article, we will be exploring the different stages of architectural design to give you – aspiring architects – a glimpse of what is to come. Keep reading to learn more!

Schematic Design

In the schematic design phase, architects develop initial sketches and concepts based on client requirements. Their designs are drafted on software like AutoCAD, SketchUp, Rhino, and Adobe Creative Suite. They often present these designs in project presentations, design meetings, or client discussions. These initial sketches and concepts serve as a visual foundation for further development and refinement in the process.

The school provides a foundation in design principles, drawing, and model-making, enabling students to articulate their ideas visually. This is an important aspect to look for during college admissions. It’s in this step where students can expect to enhance their creativity, spatial reasoning, and communication skills. They learn to balance aesthetic considerations with functional needs, a crucial skill in this phase.

Schematic design teaches students to translate abstract concepts into tangible representations, preparing them to create compelling and practical architectural solutions.

Design Development

Design Development

This is where the schematic design is refined, and technical aspects are addressed. Students, having learned foundational skills in their architectural education, use this stage to delve into structural considerations, building systems, and material specifications. They learn to balance aesthetic goals with practical constraints, translating their creative vision into feasible, detailed plans.

School curricula often include courses in structural engineering, building systems, and materials science, providing students with the knowledge needed for this phase. Collaborative studio projects mimic real-world scenarios. This teaches them to integrate feedback, make informed decisions, and work with various stakeholders.

Additionally, exposure to software tools like Revit and Building Information Modeling helps students develop proficiency in creating detailed, three-dimensional models that aid in the design development process. This educational preparation equips students to produce comprehensive designs that are both visually compelling and technically sound.

Construction Documents

This is a critical stage in architectural design where detailed drawings and specifications are created to guide actual construction. Students in architecture school prepare for this by honing their drafting skills, understanding building codes, and studying construction materials and techniques. This is when they realize that their work is more than just drawings. This is where their vision starts coming to life.

Through coursework, they learn to produce precise and comprehensive documents that convey design intent to contractors. Collaborative learning environments simulate real-world scenarios, enabling students to refine their communication skills and address potential construction challenges.

Exposure to software like AutoCAD and other drafting tools enhances their proficiency in creating accurate, industry-standard construction documents. This educational foundation equips students to create documents that are not only aesthetically sound but also serve as effective guides for builders, ensuring that their designs are brought to life faithfully and safely in the construction phase.

Bidding and Contract Awarding

Bidding and Contract Awarding

The business side of architecture is introduced to you during the bidding and contract awarding stage. This involves selecting a contractor through a competitive bid process and finalizing project contracts.

Some schools teach this through project management and contract administration. Here, students learn how to develop bid packages, evaluate contract proposals, and understand the legal aspects of the contract. This can be simulated through projects and case studies.

Construction Administration

This is the period during which the architect oversees the construction process to ensure that the design is implemented accurately. They visit the construction site, attend meetings, and address issues that may arise. They act as a liaison between the client and the construction team, ensuring that the project stays on track and meets the intended design specifications.

This phase demands strong communication and problem-solving skills. Architecture students need to grasp these aspects through practical experiences, preparing them for the dynamic and collaborative role of overseeing construction projects in their professional careers.

Key Takeaway

Exploring the stages of architectural design equips students with a roadmap to approach complex projects. With this guide, you’re given an idea of what you can expect to take off once you start your professional career.

Discover the world of architecture with CIIT’s upcoming BS Architecture course! You can expect to be a part of a vibrant community where collaboration thrives, guided by accomplished faculty and industry experts like Jason Buensalido. Reach out to us today!

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