the ‘zero to ten’ method to a successful project

Our Process

a systematic approach that leads to proven results

ZERO   first contact

For us, we really need that face to face meeting with our clients. Bonds are secured by handshakes, not through email exchanges. In this way both parties can establish if there is a likelihood that we will be a good fit for each other.  Plus, we believe that a relationship that has some basis in friendship compels us to work harder—we have a hard time disappointing our friends!
During this phase we are really hearing you out:  what are your needs, your goals, your fears, your desires,  your limits. This will allow us to begin to think about how we can help and prepare a proposal that caters specifically to your situation.

1     Engage Client in the process

Once we have moved past Step Zero, you have engaged us for professional services and we now want to get your active involvement as well. We will first submit you a questionnaire about your business, how it functions, your brand/position, and more specifics about your spatial needs. For homeowners, the process is similar, but we focus on how you live and what might be important to make your new house a ‘home.’
We also need to know what interests you visually. Perhaps you have some magazine clippings, or a Pinterest account you’ve been nurturing, or other imagery that begins to describe the look and feel you desire. Great! That’s a perfect jumping off point for us. Additionally, we encourage you to describe to us your likes and dislikes (products, places, companies, etc.).
Armed with this information, we will help to expand upon it and show you alternates that you may have not even considered. Chances are, we have already started to think about the project too and we may be able to share some of our own initial inspirational images as well.

2      Research and Background

Our research phase is critical! Our first questionnaire will be analyzed before an y sketches or design concepts are drawn. WE need to make sure we fully understand your problem and have enough research and feedback before doing so. Typically, this will mean that we:
  • visit the site and review the existing conditions;
  • obtain as-builts and/or a survey of the existing building and property;
  • visit the city/county building department to review applicable records, which may include as-built drawings of an existing home; previous surveys; or public records such as previous liens on the property;
  • gather information from state and city agencies regarding specific land use and building code requirements as well as pre-submittal and pre-permit procedures;
  • create a work plan to outline what will be done and by when;
  • define in words the problem we are trying to solve;
  • attempt to determine the mood, guest experience or narrative for the project and determine what that experience should mean;
  • take the first pass at shaping the  Project’s “story” at least verbally;

3     Collaborate on initial design and visual Concepts

Zero ten’s principals are committed to jointly provide design input at the earliest stages. We feel that the breadth of all our experiences will contribute the best overall outcomes, and we often find ourselves brainstorming over heaps of sketches, magazine clippings, potential materials, or any other items that tease out the best design ideas.
But this all doesn’t happen in a vacuum in our office. We actively seek and welcome client engagement at this point, as a sounding board to ground our ideas and  keep them aligned with our client’s vision.
As a result of the efforts in this Phase (as well as with the research we have done), we will then be able to prepare visual concepts and/or mood boards that cover the range of opportunities under consideration, and can start to put pen to paper.

4     Concept design and Planning

The Concept Design phase sets the direction of a project in terms of design and cost. Internal study and client discussions result in fundamental design concepts that define the look and feel of each project. Floor plan options are created, and preliminary finishes, material and furniture selections are considered. At the end of this phase, the client and architect will agree on the basic floor plan layout and design decisions in preparation for the Schematic Design phase.
Concept Creation: Shaping the visual and verbal story
  • Discuss client’s overall goals and desires for the project.
  • Develop the project program with the client to determine the number, function and size of spaces.
  • Determine important functional relationships.
  • Research applicable planning/zoning codes and other external issues that influence the design.
Character Exploration: Creating the look and feel
  • Source relevant precedents and design reference options.
  • Establish a storyline with the client.
  • Prepare mood board images and materials board.
Program and Movement: Shaping a journey through the space
  • Prepare sketches of floor plan options.
  • Prepare Perspective and 3D studies.
  • Prepare prototypical space plans if the exact location is not known.
Begin to make the project ‘real’
  • Facilitate contractor interviews.
  • Facilitate engineering consultant interviews.
  • Assist in budgeting design costs and schedule.

5     Schematic Design

The Schematic Design phase transforms the decisions approved during Concept Design into more detailed, scalable plans and elevations. The plans will begin to show refined casework, appliance and furniture layouts, and elevations will begin to be rendered in color and a sense of materiality. 3D studies may be developed to show this color and texture, layered with light and shadow to give a clear sense of the proportion and feel of the spaces. Engineering consultants are retained and their preliminary input will be incorporated into the design at the end of this phase. If a contractor has been selected, coordination with them begins in earnest.
Plan Refinements: Refinement of sketches into a cohesive whole
  • Discuss evolution of the program and test assumptions.
  • Incorporate appropriate preliminary structural elements into the design.
  • Refine the drawings to include additional layers of information suitable for use by the consulting engineers.
  • Collect additional design references.
Enlivening the Space: Study the impacts of light and materiality
  • Add color, materials, windows and lighting to the 3D studies.
  • Update and expand the materials board.
Securing Approvals: Present the design to appropriate agencies
  • Prepare required submittal materials.
  • Represent client at planning or design review meetings.
Establish Cost Objectives: Focusing efforts on achievable solutions
  • Facilitate contractor interviews.
  • Facilitate engineering consultant interviews.
  • Assist in budgeting design costs and schedule.
Schematic Design often produces a site plan, floor plan(s), sections, an elevation, and other illustrative materials: computer images, renderings, or models. Typically the drawings include overall dimensions, and a construction cost is estimated. Note: The Owner-Architect  Agreement will spell out in detail what will specifically will be delivered at the end of this phase.

6     Design Development

The Design Development phase is when all the Schematic Design approvals are coordinated and finalized regarding materials finishes furniture and lighting, so that all related consultants and vendors can work efficiently as a team toward the realization of the design. The engineering consultants will coordinate their systems with the architectural design, and all aspects of the project are readied for the final construction documentation by the end of the phase.
The Drawing Set: Interfacing with the consultant team
  • In depth review of the design with all consultants to ensure that their disciplines work as a cohesive whole with the established design.
  • Development of the drawings to a greater level of detail, including preparation of the documents that form the basis of the final Construction Documents set.
  • Development of preliminary details of character-defining elements of the project.
The Specifications: Collecting the details the approved materials
  • Verify sources, prices and lead time information.
  • Prepare preliminary schedules and outline specifications.
Preliminary Furniture and Art Selection: Refining the interior design approach and setting the mood
  • Gather cut sheets. Visit websites and/or vendors.
  • Refine design of any custom furniture or fixtures.
  • Verify sources, pricing, lead time and delivery information.
Design Development often produces floor plans, sections, and elevations with full dimensions. These drawings typically include door and window details and outline material specifications.

7     Permit and Construction Documents

The Construction Documents phase expands upon the approved Design Development documents, adding all final information necessary to for the issuance of a building permit, with sufficient detail to allow the contractor to finalize their pricing and construct the project. Additionally, the architect will prepare formal responses to questions from the building officials upon their review of the permit documents.
A set of permit drawings is basically a simplified set of construction drawings.  The permit documents are used to submit, coordinate, and obtain the building permit from the city or county.  The jurisdiction doesn’t typically care to review each and every detail – they just want to make sure you’re meeting state, city and local codes.  It is typically an effective use of time to turn in a permit set early, covering the requirements, to get the ball rolling with the reviewing party while the design team continues to work on a more thorough drawing set required for construction.  The drawings continue to develop down to the very last details (how the handrail bracket connects to the wall, how the tile floor in the shower is sloped to drain, etc.). Its these details that will truly make your project special.
The Construction Drawings: The 2D realization of the design
  • Prepare a Permit Set suitable for submission to the building department, including all dimensions, notes, materials and details necessary for approval and construction.
  • Prepare a final materials sample board, for reference by the contractor in the procurement of the materials.
The Specifications: Finalizing and documenting each component of the building
  • Create specifications for all building components, indicating the performance, installation, quality levels, and regulatory requirements, to ensure that the contractor bids and builds the project to a consistent and approved standard.
The Construction Documents phase produces a set of drawings that include all pertinent information required for the contractor to price and build the project.

8     Permit and Bidding review

The first step of this phase is preparation of the bid documents to go out to potential contractors for pricing. The Bid Document Set often includes an advertisement for bids, instructions to bidders, the bid form, bid documents, the Owner-Contractor agreement, labor and material payment bond, and any other sections necessary for successfully priced bids. For some projects that have unique aspects or complex requirements, the architect and client may elect to have a pre-bid meeting for potential contractors. After bid sets are distributed, both the client and architect wait for bids to come in. The client, with the help of the architect, evaluate the bids and select a winning bid. Any negotiation with the bidder of price or project scope, if necessary, should be done before the contract for construction is signed. The final step is to award the contract to the selected bidder with a formal letter of intent to allow construction to begin.
The final deliverable is a construction contract. Once this document is signed, project construction can begin.

9     Construction Administration

The Construction Administration phase allows the architect to act as the client’s representative during construction, to monitor if the work is in conformance with the approved Construction Documents. The contractor may consult with the architect on construction matters that affect the design, including discovery of hidden conditions, material or component substitutions, or alternative methods of accomplishing the approved design.
Site Visits: Acting as the client’s representative on the project site
  • Visit the site periodically or as necessary to keep current with the progress of construction.
  • Meet with contractor as necessary regarding design issues.
  • Report to Client as requested regarding the status of the work.
  • Assist in solving design problems that the contractor encounters on site.
Submittals and Shop Drawings: Cross-checking the contractor’s understanding of the design
  • Review the contractor-submitted product literature, shop drawings and other submittals to confirm their conformance with the Construction Documents.
RFIs: Answering contractor questions throughout construction
  • Clarify design issues for contractor as necessary.
  • Issue sketches as required to convey design intent.
  • Evaluate alternate design, materials or finishes for buildability, schedule or cost reasons.
Contract Administration:
  • Review construction progress with regards to budget and schedule.
  • Review contractor’s payment application.
  • Prepare or review Change Orders and Proposal Requests.
  • Conduct site visits and prepare punch lists in order to determine date of substantial completion.

TEN    post occ evaluation

All projects are in some way prototypical, and as such have never been tested prior to occupancy. Having a methodology for reviewing the design after construction makes us better architects and designers, and gives our clients the benefit of entertaining minor adjustments to improve the fine details. This evaluation phase, after the project has been “lived in,” gives us real world feedback on how our buildings and spaces perform, what works, and what could have been improved upon.

But wait, there’s more! As immortalized in ‘Spinal Tap,’ we like to turn it up to eleven!

11     Meet with the Client – maintain friendship

Hopefully at this point, we have moved beyond the standard, boring contractual relationship between architect and client, and we have nurtured a rapport that transcends the bounds of the project. It’s a huge part of our belief system and values. We strive not only to make the best projects but to forge the best relationships with our clients and be an integral part of their successes.