Design.....It's Hard

Once upon a time I wrote an article called Design....It's a process.  I discussed how design is an iterative process, and showed the progression of the design for the Catholic Diocese of Charleston Chapel.

My original title for that article was Design....It's Hard. But I decided at that time to put a more positive spin on it.

Recently our team has been battling with a new project.  It is in conceptual design and we are preparing a package for the Board of Architectural Review (BAR).  Every project comes with its own unique challenges.  The greatest challenge with this building has been its scale. Over 300,000 sf, 260' long, 200' wide, 80' tall.  For downtown Charleston, that is a big building! 

Designing large buildings in a historic context, comprised primarily of small buildings, is always a challenge.  And this one is no different.

Our team typically meets twice a day to critique the design.  Once in the morning, once in the afternoon.  We will print out the plans, elevations and perspectives, pin them on the wall or review them on a big table.  We discuss what parts of the design are working and which areas need work.  And then there is always a gray area.  Things that we can't agree on, or things we are just not sure of.

It's hard.

At the conclusion of our meetings we will split up the work.  Divide and conquer!  Since 4 of us will be working on the same Revit model, we will typically work on different sides of the building so that we don't overlap.  

I joked the other day that we will attack the building like a pack of Raptors! We will surround the building, and hit if from all sides.  You go high, I go low.  We even have a part of the building that has been dubbed the 'head' of the building.  The raptor that tackles the head has the most important job.

Every day we make good progress on our beast.  Yet everyday I leave thinking....damn this is difficult.

Difficult....but a ton of fun.  

Good Luck Design, Raptors!

Steve Ramos, AIA, LEED AP

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