This is one of if not the most important questions that must be asked in any project. However in today’s integrated practice it is critical to its success. For some projects what the owner cares about may be very simple to describe and a page or two in the request for proposal may sum it up quite will. On the other hand some project may require a much more involved set of documentation to describe everything that they care about. Regardless it is absolutely critical to the project that it is defined before the request for proposals is written since this scope will be the defining element for the design professional and the contractor when figuring their fees and or cost estimate.
The development of design guidelines that address “what the owner cares the most about” is critical to the success of any project. These guidelines should include everything that the owner really cares about and wants to have included in the design. This list can be large or small depending upon the project and the owner.
Once the list is developed Design guidelines which describe what the owners care about establish the direction for the project. These are more than just program documents they express technical, aesthetic, maintenance and functional issues. They are developed following a strict organization that will help users and stakeholders understand quickly what the important elements of the project are. Design guidelines are just that guidelines and can and should be debated with the owner to make sure that they are important and not just wish list items.
Project Imperatives are those guidelines that are from the owners perspective critical to the success of the project and must be included in the project with out question. These are the conditions that will ultimately shape the project. These are selected by the owner and are the most important elements to the owner.
The value design guidelines and imperatives should bring to the project are to:
1. Defines what the owner really cares the most about.
2. Organize Ideas into Hierarchy and then Document them.
3. Build and maintain a broad based consensus with stakeholders
4. Create a global vision including a sequence for implementation and project delivery strategies
5. Encourage collaborative teams for both design and construction activities
6. Eliminate guess work by the design architect
7. Provide clear and complete scope to designers, design builders and to CM’s prior to starting the project.
8. Assist in defining the schedule and cost models for better managed.
9. Create a discussion early so change to occur without cost
Design Guidelines and Imperatives
The development and use of design guidelines for the Utah State Capitol grew out of a need to eliminate costly changes in the work as the project moved forward. It has been long recognized that project which have clear direction or excellent project definition at the outset cost less to construct by approximately 37% (Edward Merrill Independent Project Analysis Corp., Reston, VA) than those projects that have poorly defined expectations of the owner. The question is how to achieve this idea of better project definition? The answer is through the use of design guidelines and imperatives.
Developing excellent design guidelines is a simple and straight forward process that involves the owner and the project definition architect. This is not a design architect. There is little design in this phase, the goal is to completely define those items in the project that the owner cares about, not to design the project. The following are the steps that are recomended:
· Step One – Begin with the end in mind. The owner must be ready to meet often with the project definition architect to identify what he cares the most about. This can be facilitated by starting with a vision of what the project will be in the end, by envisioning it successfully completed. What does the owner see? What does the owner care about? What does he want to see? What is success? During this stage of questions and answers the project definition architects is doing some standard programming, blocking and stacking diagrams to get a clear picture of the project. However he will do some deeper questioning of the owner by probing the owner on such things as; skin of the building, mechanical systems, door hardware, lighting, and other elements. The best scours is the Construction Specifies Institute or a standard basic specification index with all elements identified. This will assist the questioner to ask questions about the project to the owner. A list of items that the owner feels that he cares the most about should be developed. Each idea or topic will be future developed but the identification of the element is critical at this stage. Each idea should be provided with a unique number.
Each idea should be limited to one page and just the critical issues should be discussed. The format of the page should include both text and graphics. The format should be the same from page to page so that the reader of the document can find the information quickly. The Guidelines and the Imperatives should be similar in format, but should be marked Guideline or Imperative. They should have a date identifying the more recent discussion. This will be a living document and new ideas can be added as the owner considers them, so page numbers add a level of difficulty that is not needed.
· Step Two – Develop a principle statement for each idea. – a principle statement is a very simple statement about the idea that can not be argued with or debated. In other words it is the principle for which the idea is based. A principle statement may be used on more than one idea. But it should always be about the main principle for which the owner has selected the idea for. For example if the project is located on a site with a prominent building which the owner does not want to over shadow. And the idea is that all other buildings (the new one included) should be subservient to it. Then the principle statement may be “The prominent building is the most important building on the site.” A simple statement of principle and fact. Can not be argued with. This same principle can be used again on the idea of height, width and breath. It could also be used on decoration, exterior details and so on. On the other hand a more appropriate principle statement that better describes the idea is always better.
· Step Three – Develop a Value Objective – the value objective is a statement that supports the principle and yet states clearly the idea, in a simple one sentence statement. Using the example above about subservience the Value statement may be: “All other elements or buildings constructed on the site should be subordinate to the prominent building.” This object should only be use once for each idea, it should not be repeated. This is the objective that the owner is trying to accomplish with this idea. The project definition architect will need to work closely with the owner to make sure that the value objective supports the owners ideas and that the owner ideas are being achieved through the understanding of the objective statement. This is the most critical step in the development of the guidelines and imperatives.
· Step Four – Graphics development – the definition architect needs to develop a graphic that describes the value objective visually. The better the graphic the better the idea will be communicated and understood. This may require a photograph of what not to do, or what to do. It may be a rendering or a sketch. It could be a floor plan. Or it could be all of the above. The project definition architect must determine what the best graphic, or graphics to use to achieve the idea, and the value objective. Graphics should be linked to the text either by notation or by number. Also a graphic may be used to capture and coordinate several ideas.
· Step Five – Text Development – the text is the final component. It is developed by the project definition architect to reinforce and enhance the graphics, value statement, principle statement and the idea. It should always be the last element developed because it must complete the overall idea. It must fill in all the blanks and leave nothing for question.
The difference between imperatives and guidelines are that the ideas identified in the imperatives are critical and it is imperative that they be accomplished in the development of the project. Each imperative has a design guideline but not each guideline will have an imperative. The imperatives are a second page with more specific information about the idea. The basic format is similar:
· The unique number for the idea should be the same.
· The principle statement should be the same and in the same location.
· The value objective should be the same and in the same location
· The graphic should be more descriptive
· The text will become more like a specification very descriptive of what is to be implemented.
The critical element of the imperative is that it provides additional information to the designer, design builder and CM that will assist them in addressing the request for proposals and pricing.
The third and final set of documents that are critical to the project definition package is the application documents. These documents or drawings are the application of all the design guidelines and imperatives. They are a “test fit” to make sure that:
1. None of the ideas captured in the design guidelines and imperatives are in opposition to one another.
2. Ideas that should be incorporated can be.
3. By using the design guidelines and Imperative an architect can in fact design a project that will address the owners concerns.
The application documents are a set of drawings that attempt to describe the project using just the design guidelines and imperatives. There by allowing the project to reveal itself through the eye of the owner.
As part of the application documents a descriptive performance specification for some items may be required. These specification documents should remain general and follow the intention of the guidelines. They are not expected to be used to construct or specify products. They are simply more information which the design architect will use when compiling the design of the project.