Design Brief


Show Notes:

Design Brief

This week I want to talk about the next stage after the plan sketch and that is the Design Brief.

How do you know what will solve the struggles your facing? The reason we have the initial meeting is to discover these struggles. It’s used to discover your goals and based on that determine the scope of work. What’s needed in the design to solve the struggles you’re facing? I evaluate our discussion and your goals during the meeting. Your goals then get documented in what I call the Design Brief.

This is a document that defines your project. It serves as a guide for the project and give us direction throughout the process. It’s important to evaluate your needs early so we are able to set clear expectations. It allows us to set priorities for the project.

The design brief takes several components into consideration to help develop the scope. The sketch plan from earlier is refined to provide more detail and accuracy. Elements of the plan are then elevated to provide us with more of a visual experience. Many people have a difficult time understanding or visualizing space from a floor plan. It’s very helpful at these early stages to begin to develop the plan three-dimensionally.

Diagrams are created to understand the relationships of the space. Circulation, massing, and lighting are all explored early.

The design brief begins to study the look of the space. We gather inspirational images that were discussed in our meeting. Combine them with other found images after the meeting. These inspirational images are a tool used to hone in on a look. We use them to help understand your expectations and aesthetic goals.

Detail study allows us to evaluate the spaces more thoroughly. We can refine the look and feel of the spaces. Define the character of the space.

At this initial stage of the design brief, these are all explored in sketch form. These are details related to the function and aesthetics of the space. They’re not the construction details. Those details come later in the process, during the construction document phase.

As I mentioned earlier, the plan is elevated and we begin to explore the concept in three-dimensions. Areas of the plan that need exploring further are done so in massing form. These massing images are still early in the design phase. This is only the needs and options review stage. The next stage would be schematic design. The model and plan develops further. The plan’s refined based on our discussions and field measurements.

The result of the needs and options review is a design brief document. The design brief contains all the discovered goals and requirements discussed in the initial meeting. This scope of work is weighed against a preliminary construction budget and project schedule. The budget and proposed project is also evaluated based on the current market. Comparable properties in the area and their current values.

Without going through this comprehensive planning and discussion phase, the project would be like a lost wandering child in Walmart. Screaming for answers to his problems, while his parents continue to shop with headphones on. Eventually they get to the car and realize that all the clothes they just bought for their child don’t matter because they forgot the child in the store.

I don’t know if that analogy works or not. My point is that we need to have a plan and we need to follow it. You don’t want to sidetrack your project. You don’t want to get off the path of solving your struggles and achieving your goals. Take this time early in the process to create your design brief. Your guide for the project. You action plan so you know that you can complete your project with success.

Thank you for listening to this weeks episode. Next week we are going to get into the next step in my process which is the as-built stage.

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Thank you for listening and I hope you have a great day and great success with your construction project!

If you have a question for me I would love to hear it. You can email me at If you would like to connect with me on Twitter I’m @wwsarchitecture and the same on Instagram @wwsarchitecture