The “High Performance by Integrative Design” film by RMI includes examples of how design teams collaborate in new ways to integrate high-performance design elements, such as daylighting, energy efficiency and renewable energy, for optimal performance. Viewers experience charrette discussions and see the design process unfold on projects such as the Empire State Building retrofit, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Phipps Conservancy in Pittsburgh, the Desert Living Center in Las Vegas, Willow School in New Jersey and Chicago Botanic Gardens.
Typical Design & Construction Process
Conventional planning, design, building, and operations processes often fail to recognize that buildings are part of larger, complex systems. As a result, solving for one problem may create other problems elsewhere in the system.1
Integrative Design & Construction Process
Collaboration leads to innovation
An integrated design process (IDP) involves a holistic approach to high performance building design and construction. It relies upon every member of the project team sharing a vision of sustainability, and working collaboratively to implement sustainability goals. This process enables the team to optimize systems, reduce operating and maintenance costs and minimize the need for incremental capital. IDP has been shown to produce more significant results than investing in capital equipment upgrades at later stages.2
As discussed in a previous post, the integrated process requires more time and collaboration during the early conceptual and design phases than conventional practices. Time must be spent building the team, setting goals, and doing analysis before any decisions are made or implemented. This upfront investment of time, however, reduces the time it takes to produce construction documents. Because the goals have been thoroughly explored and woven throughout the process, projects can be executed more thoughtfully, take advantage of building system synergies, and better meet the needs of their occupants or communities, and ultimately save money, too.3
Considerations and Advantages of an Integrative Design Process:
- ID&CP processes and strategies can be implemented to varying degrees depending upon the complexity of a project and an owner’s project goals.
- A project team must be carefully assembled very early on in the process to ensure success.
- All key participants must subscribe to the collaborative effort of establishment clear goals.
- All project stakeholders must be involved and remain involved in the project, and must communicate openly and frequently.
- Key participants must employ appropriate technology to foster collaborative design and construction.
Similar to the Construction Management at Risk approach to project delivery, the owner can benefit from the following IPD advantages:
- Owner receives early cost estimating input, sometimes as early as conceptual design.
- The owner can take advantage of special services such as:
- Feasibility studies
- Value engineering
- Life cycle costs
- Identification of long-lead items and their pre-purchase
- Significant time can be saved because the design effort is emphasized and completed earlier in the process, and because construction can begin before the design is fully complete.
- Architectural and engineering fees can be reduced by the early involvement of the specialty contractors.
- Construction costs are minimized by incorporating constructability reviews into the process, and by the designers incorporating materials, methods, and systems that the team knows are more cost effective.
- Operating costs can be reduced by providing opportunities to greatly affect long-term energy and resource use through design.
- Capital costs can be reduced, thanks to clearer and better coordinated construction documents, which should minimize the incidence of change orders that impact both cost and time.
- Misunderstanding between the parties is minimized when the IPD Team works together during the planning stages of the project.
- The owner’s risk is minimized as the IPD Team approach tends to focus on early identification of potential conflicts and issues through the utilization of modeling tools. This early identification results in timely problem solving and resolution of issues through the use of models, as opposed to problem solving in the field and constructed environments.
We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
Ask the Architect
An Exclusive Interview with Architect Frank Cunha III
Frank Cunha III, AIA, NCARB is a Registered Architect licensed in CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY, PA and is currently seeking reciprocity in VA as well. Mr. Cunha is the founder of FC3 Architecture + Design, established in 2005 to serve its clients in various markets, including commercial and residential projects. He writes / blogs for I Love My Architect and Just Architecture.
You can find him online at:
What was it about Architecture that helped you decide it was the field for you?
I always loved to draw as a child and I always loved to build. Give me scraps of cardboards and leftover bricks and sticks in the backyard and my imagination would take over. I was always fascinated with churches and castles. They have a very obvious Archetype, and from a very early age I always imagined that I too would be able to one day shape the design of our cities and how people inhabit them. Even when I travel, it is the Architecture that defines the people and the place (unless you are in the wilderness, where nature rules supreme). In the city, man (men and women) are able to shape the world we live in. With this ability comes great responsibility not just freedom to do whatever we want. The industrial and post-industrial eras have taught us that!
How long have you been in the profession?
After 5 years of Architecture school and after 3 years of internship and after passing my NCARB IDP Architecture Exam I “officially” became a Registered Architect in January 2004. It was not easy but it was worth it. Going through the arduous process allowed me to learn the different aspects of being an Architect.
It appears that Architecture incorporates many fields of study, for example; astronomy, meteorology, geography and I am sure there is much more. Could you explain?
Throughout history, especially before technology and social media distractions, civilizations, would honor the heavens by building monuments. Examples of this can be seen all over the world and there are plenty of interesting websites that address this.
Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences so it is no wonder that early civilizations would use the mathematics from the heavens to orient their buildings and monuments. Many pre-historic cultures left behind astronomical artifacts such as the Egyptian and Nubian monuments, and early civilizations such as Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians, and Maya performed methodical observations of the night sky. Climatology, the study of atmospheric science, is another extension coming out from Astronomy. In Architecture both the disciplines that is astrology and climatology, leads to a concept known as Vastu.
If you want to learn more about these interdisciplinary studies, you can click here or click here.
Today, Architects still consider orientation when placing a building and the building components on the site. The building’s orientation can even help Architects obtain LEED credits from the US Green Building Council, an organization that promotes sustainable design and construction around the world.
Is there a deciding factor for you when agreeing to take part in projects?
One thing I have learned over the past 15 years in the field of Architecture is that there are many components to accepting and working on a project. While we all need to make money to eat and survive, here are a few things that should be considered before agreeing to take on a project:
- Is there a chemistry between the client and the designer, i.e., do you like each other? Can you work well together?
- Is the project exciting and challenging?
- Can I assemble the right team to complete the project effectively? And do we have the right fee to allow our design team to perform the project effectively?
If the answer to any of these is “no” then I keep looking for another opportunity. Every time an opportunity passes, two or more new ones appear. Don’t be hasty just for the sake of getting a project!
The projects you are sharing today are they based on specific concepts?
As a young Architect my aesthetic and design concepts are still evolving.
Although we do not force my designs on my clients, we do have some underlying principals we like to maintain on our projects whenever feasible.
FC3 Architecture takes a Holistic approach to each individual project to meet the client’s specific needs. We work with our team of expert consultants to bring the most value to the client through rigorous, integrated design practices. It is our mission to explore and develop the “Architectural Design Aesthetics” & “Building Tectonics Systems” to engage the following issues on a project-by-project basis, where applicable, to discover and address the project requirements established by the client and the Architect during the Pre-Design phase:
- Program / Livability / Functional
- Provide efficient space planning to maximize client’s programmatic needs (don’t over build)
- Determination of most effective use of a given site
- Optimize access to the site
- Maximize land, views, lighting, wind, water elements, other natural features, etc.
- Provide guidance for best use of materials, structure, and form
- Properly integrate new design into existing contextual surroundings
- Sustainable / Environmental
- Coordinate with client’s abatement team when required
- Coordinate with client’s commissioning team when required
- Provide guidance and integration on current sustainable trends
- Sustainable Design
- Energy Use & Conservation
- Waste Management
- Selection of Materials – Reuse, Recycling, Renewable sources, etc.
- Water Use & Conservation
- Structural / Tectonic
- Coordinate with structural team to develop integrated structural design
- Coordinate with MEP team to develop integrated MEP design
- Coordinate with other industry experts as needed to meet project goals
- Historic / Preservation
- When required, document and research preservation of historic elements
- Provide design details that are sensitive to preexisting building/site elements
- Engage our expert consultant team as may be required
- Economic / Legalization
- Provide assistance in developing a feasibility study
- Assist client’s legal counsel with Planning/Zoning Board approvals
- Constructability / Management
- Assist client with project schedules and budgets throughout the project
- Engage our expert construction/project management team as may be required
Click here to see some of Frank’s recent featured projects.
Click here to read more “Ask the Architect” articles.