+ Lisa Jaffe, AIA, LEED AP

At JAFFE A+I, we remind our clients that it takes a lot of effort to create an effortless aesthetic. That effort begins in earnest during the Design Development phase (DD) where the preliminary plans conceived in Schematic Design (SD) are advanced to the next level of specificity. In this blog post, we’ll demystify the DD phase which accounts for approximately 20% of the architect’s time.  To familiarize yourself with our previous post on the first architectural phase, check out “Sketching the Dream: Schematic Design.

Making it Crystal Clear

At the completion of Schematic Design your new home’s configuration, size and organization should be well established. You might think, “We’ve nailed it! These wonderful floor plans respond to our budget, wishlist and lifestyle…what more could we need?” Your vision may be crystal clear, but general contractors aren’t mind readers, so that’s where Jaffe A+I comes in. The drawings and specifications that begin to take shape during DD fill in the blanks, ensuring that the bids are based on what you want and not left to the GC’s imagination about what he/she thinks you want.

Our primary role in Design Development is to work in collaboration with our clients to finesse the plans, while developing the home’s aesthetics, details and systems — mechanicals, plumbing and electrical. Product selections are researched, presented and assigned to building elements including appliances, plumbing fixtures, windows, door hardware and lighting. As building material options such as brick, stone, metal panels or stucco are considered, exterior and interior elevations can be determined and designed.

It’s All in the Details

To give a specific example, we’ll look at a schematic kitchen layout that shows a large island with seating and a sink. Is the sink a single bowl, double bowl or farmhouse style? Is one dishwasher adjacent to the sink adequate? Are the trash and recycling receptacles below or beside the sink? What do the cabinets look like? Are the island stools counter or bar height? Is there pendant lighting above the island?  With our client’s input, the kitchen island design can be fully developed. The once basic kitchen plan is annotated to reflect customized selections and the corresponding elevations are configured. 

We work on parallel tracks, guiding homeowners one-on-one through the fun design items and choices, while – behind the scenes – we’re advancing the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Working side by side with our project team’s consultants to engineer the structure, we lay out the mechanicals and coordinate your security system and the other automated, technical aspects of the residence.

Getting it “Just Right!”

Architecture is a combination of both art and science. Aesthetics and function must be balanced in order for you to live your best home life.  As selections and systems come to fruition, often adjustments and tweaks are needed. Design is a process that requires some push and pull, so JAFFE A+I maintains near constant communication throughout the process to keep you informed on all aspects of your new home. Your participation is key and no detail is too small to be reviewed. Our goal is to get it “just right,” because the best compliment we can receive is when our clients say, “We love coming home!”

After working hand in hand with JAFFE A+I through Design Development, most selections should be complete. Specifications and a drawing set including plans, exterior elevations, interior elevations, window & door schedules and additional details take shape and materialize in DD. The specs and drawing set will be further developed in the next phase, Construction Documents (CD), when finalizing deliverables for bidding and construction of your new home occurs.  In our next post, we’ll discuss the architect’s role in preparing your construction documents.

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