Systems design of buildings requires a different approach to design and construction than that used in traditional design (Art. 1.9). Because traditional design and construction procedures are still widely used, however, it is desirable to incorporate as much of those procedures in systems design as is feasible without destroying its effectiveness. This will make the transition from traditional design to systems design easier. Also, those trained in systems design of buildings will then be capable of practicing in traditional ways, if necessary.
There are several variations of traditional design and construction. These are described throughout this book. For the purpose of illustrating how they may be modified for systems design, however, one widely used variation, which will be called basic traditional design and construction, is described in the following.
In the basic traditional design procedure, design usually starts when a client recognizes the need for and economic feasibility of a building and engages an architect, a professional with a broad background in building design. The architect, in turn, engages consulting engineers and other consultants.
For most buildings, structural, mechanical, and electrical consulting engineers are required. A structural engineer is a specialist trained in the application of scientific principles to the design of load-bearing walls, floors, roofs, foundations, and skeleton framing needed for the support of buildings and building components. A mechanical engineer is a specialist trained in the application of scientific principles to the design of plumbing, elevators, escalators, horizontal walkways, dumbwaiters, conveyors, installed machinery, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. An electrical engineer is a specialist trained in the application of scientific principles to the design of electric circuits, electric controls and safety devices, electric motors and generators, electric lighting, and other electric equipment.
For buildings on a large site, the architect may engage a landscape architect as a consultant. For a concert hall, an acoustics consultant may be engaged; for a hospital, a hospital specialist; for a school, a school specialist.
The architect does the overall planning of the building and incorporates the output of the consultants into the contract documents. The architect determines what internal and external spaces the client needs, the sizes of these spaces, their relative locations, and their interconnections. The results of this planning are shown in floor plans, which also diagram the internal flow, or circulation, of people and supplies. Major responsibilities of the architect are enhancement of the appearance inside and outside of the building and keeping adverse environmental impact of the structure to a minimum. The exterior of the building is shown in drawings, called elevations. The location and orientation of the building is shown in a site plan. The architect also prepares the specifications for the building. These describe in detail the materials and equipment to be installed in the structure. In addition, the architect, usually with the aid of an attorney engaged by the client, prepares the construction contract.
The basic traditional design procedure is executed in several stages. In the first stage, the architect develops a program, or list of the client’s requirements. In the next stage, the schematic or conceptual phase, the architect translates requirements into spaces, relates the spaces and makes sketches, called schematics, to illustrate the concepts. When sufficient information is obtained on the size and general construction of the building, a rough estimate is made of construction cost. If this cost does not exceed the cost budgeted by the client for construction, the next stage, design development, proceeds. In this stage, the architect and consultants work out more details and show the results in preliminary construction drawings and outline specifications. A preliminary cost estimate utilizing the greater amount of information on the building now available is then prepared. If this cost does not exceed the client’s budget, the final stage, the contract documents phase, starts. It culminates in production of working, or construction, drawings and specifications, which are incorporated in the contract between the client and a builder and therefore become legal documents. Before the documents are completed, however, a final cost estimate is prepared. If the cost exceeds the client’s budget, the design is revised to achieve the necessary cost reduction.
In the traditional design procedure, after the estimated cost is brought within the budget and the client has approved the contract documents, the architect helps the owner in obtaining bids from contractors or in negotiating a construction price with a qualified contractor. For private work, construction not performed for a governmental agency, the owner generally awards the construction contract to a contractor, called a general contractor. Assigned the responsibility for construction of the building, this contractor may perform some, all, or none of the work. Usually, much of the work is let out to specialists, called subcontractors. For public work, there may be a legal requirement that bids be taken and the contract awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. Sometimes also, separate contracts have to be awarded for the major specialists, such as mechanical and electrical trades, and to a general contractor, who is assigned responsibility for coordinating the work of the trades and performance of the work. (See also Art. 1.4.)
Building design should provide for both normal and emergency conditions. The latter includes fire, explosion, power cut-offs, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The design should include access and facilities for disabled persons.