Digital Crayon: Article 2 – The School Planning Process

by David Epstein, September 19, 2012

Last article we discussed getting started on a facility project. In this article, let’s discuss how the master planning process might work. If it is an existing building or campus, we generally divide up the process into three components: Facility Analysis, Programming and Concept Design. If it’s a totally new project, then of course the Facility Analysis is not applicable. In this case, an analysis of the site might be more appropriate.

In the Facility Analysis, we evaluate the building and site systems in terms of maintenance, improvement, or replacement with our team of engineers and produce a report.

In Programming, we interview all of the user groups of the building and create a Space Needs Program, which lists all of the existing and proposed spaces, their sizes and important adjacencies and environmental requirements. We also include a narrative describing existing functional deficiencies and the important driving forces behind the space requests.

Finally, in Concept Design, we develop several design alternatives based on the programming work. The selected approach is further refined and becomes the final master plan. I should note at this point that these drawings are conceptual and sketchy in nature – the 30,000 foot view. But they provide a roadmap for campus or building development that can be developed over time. The entire master planning process can take a semester, sometimes longer. Needless to say, it’s wise to have the master plan approved before there is a significant board member change over.

Along with this planning scope of work there are several options of course. Sometimes we are asked to provide cost estimating services. Often we include a sustainability review using the LEED Green Building Rating System. But more on that next time!

Next Digital Crayon – Article 3 – Growth and Capacity

Last Digital Crayon – Article 1 – Musings on School Design

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