So often in the design process, we begin by deferring to the technical people – the engineers and the architects. These technical experts are, of course, essential to the design process; they create the technical backbone and foundation for a sound project. But these individuals are usually not the end users or the vision keepers for a project. For these reasons, the traditional siloed approach to design can lead to problems further down the road. The Integrated Design Process (IDP) leads a team to collaborate at each stage of a project to ensure it develops with the vision and final output in mind. In IDP projects, the early stages of planning and design are front-loaded with “team time” to work through the real purpose of the project and unique value that can be added throughout design.
Visioning and chartering sessions are different from charrettes (see here). Although both involve workshopping, the intent is fundamentally unique and often one type of session can be misconstrued for another. Visioning and chartering occur early on during project planning and involve active dialogues with stakeholders, end users, and project owners to shape the project purpose and goals. These sessions should also involve technical experts, but the focus should be on “blue sky” conversations that support identifying the right project and thinking about it in the right way.
After initial visioning and chartering, other tools, such as charrettes and ongoing stakeholder workshops, can be used to keep the project on the right track. As the design is refined, constraints such as budget, schedule, and risk management must be tracked and addressed on a continuous basis. Working together can streamline engagement and reduce the need for redesign or additional construction work.
We often hear the term value engineering. Understandably, our clients look for the best value possible on projects. It is our role to deliver value and we have a responsibility of due diligence that extends to value creation. Sometimes value engineering is requested once detailed design has already begun or even once construction is already underway. This is the costliest time for value engineering to be offered and often only happens because the actual cost of implementing a design is over-budget or not on schedule. As a result, the designers must then retroactively explore options to cut costs and save time.
Imagine if value engineering was consistently built into the planning and design process, rather than being considered as an “additional service” or added on as a re-design service. Wouldn’t this be more efficient? IDP encourages value engineering conversations to occur iteratively throughout planning and design and provides designers with more information on project cost, constructability, and user requirements so they are able to design the project more effectively and efficiently.