The design process is a continuous motion thing – once the brain is in gear and out of the box – it just goes rolling along. In fact, the “process” consists of whatever it takes. The result always surprises even ourselves, but no one is ever disappointed.
A visit to the site is the big event to the process (we’ve never met a site we didn’t like). We look, touch and feel – measure and photograph – everything we can, absorbing the essences, also visualizing how best to take advantage of all that place has to offer. A concept will emerge. Sometimes sketches help it to emerge.
Once the ideas are clear and integrated, an initial drawing, or PRELIMINARY PLAN, is made. This plan is a study tool only – from which ideas can be refined or changed, and from which early rough estimates of cost can be made.
Sometimes, in complex work, an intermediate level of detail plan is made, called DESIGN DEVELOPMENT PLAN. Although not encumbered with final technical information, it is accurate to scale, and helps to indicate what further engineering, specifications, detail and etc. will be required.
Finally, WORKING DRAWINGS (or CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS) are drawn up, detailing each material, each dimension, any structural engineering, code or regulation specifications, that enable the workmen to accurately bid and build the work.
The CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS may have many pages and include enlargements, sections, text and further sketches: whatever is needed to provide complete instructions.
Before anything is built, the design is “laid out” – sometimes with chalk - out on the ground. – Photo by Timothy Hearsum
Even then, there is often quite a need for further interpretation, as the process reveals issues not previously known. Sometimes (and with briefer plans), the oversight of construction unfolds much as one would create a sculpture or painting, particularly with natural rock – since rocks cannot be found to match exact specifications. – Photo by Timothy Hearsum
Quite often, the finished result surpasses even the inspired expectations.