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Schematic Design Phase and Evolving the Revit Model

Let’s examine how the Revit model evolves during the second phase of the architectural design process. 

We will also discuss the benefits of using a flexible database tool in the Schematic Design phase to access previously captured field data and client feedback right in Revit. 

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What is the Schematic Design Phase?

Schematic Design begins after tasks from the Pre-Design phase have been completed and a contract is signed. The primary goal of the Schematic Design phase is to begin to identify the general character of the building and its systems. 

During this phase, the design team produces a series of sketches, physical models, and initial renderings of the building. These graphics help to visualize how the project might respond to the constraints and goals identified in the Pre-Design phase. These initial drawings or models also help the design team to communicate ideas to the owner. It is also an opportunity to see how different spaces might be configured within the building, how the building might sit on the site, or how the building might look and operate. 

Once the owner reviews and approves the preliminary design, the design team proceeds to the next phase.

Typical Deliverables for the Schematic Design Phase
Typical deliverables provided at the conclusion of schematic design include:

  • Site Plan, Floor Plans, and Exterior Elevations
  • Interior and Exterior Renderings
  • Building System Narratives (Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing)
  • Initial Estimate of Cost (Optional; an estimate of cost can be generated by a third-party estimator hired by the Owner, by a contractor working with the design team in a design-build capacity, or by a Construction Manager within a CMAR delivery method.)
  • Notice to Proceed (Optional; can be provided by the Owner to the design team as an official approval of design work completed to date.) 

Working in Revit during the Schematic Design Phase

While in Schematic Design, the Revit model starts to become much more densely populated with information. 

Preliminary building masses are created to test program adjacencies, building proportions, or building layout; and numerous types of components – e.g. walls, floors, ceilings, windows, etc. – are inserted into the design in order to explore the look and feel of a wide range of design possibilities. 

At this point in the process, the Revit model might contain dozens of different design options. Each will have a unique combination of building components. In order to communicate all of these ideas to the Owner, the design team will also utilize the Revit model and supplemental plugins like Enscape or Twinmotion to create presentation drawings and three-dimensional renderings of the early design concepts.

Schematic Design is also when consultants such as engineers and interior designers are introduced to the project. They each have their own responsibilities such as scoping out building systems narratives and creating FF&E budgets. While they are not participating in the Revit model, they may ask to access certain drawings to begin their work. 

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Using a Flexible Database with Revit

Schematic Design is when the design team will start to reap the benefits of using a flexible database tool. All of the field data and client feedback gathered in Pre-Design is now easily accessible right in Revit. 

As the building begins to take shape in Revit, the design team will be creating and gathering more rich data like meeting feedback and FF&E specifications. A flexible database is one channel to store all of this information. 

Here are a few specific ways to make the Schematic Design Phase more efficient:

  • Room Data Sheets: Using a direct connection from the Revit model, Room Data Sheets can be created in the flexible database tool. Rich data like client requirements and FF&E quantities and cut sheets can be linked directly to a Revit room or element. 
  • Cost Estimating: Complex number fields can be used to calculate and quantify costs, either by FF&E item, room, or entire floors. 
  • Team Communication: Use a mobile-friendly model viewer to share the Revit model without requiring the consultants to be in Revit. Use real-time markup and notation tools to clarify questions. 

Want to learn more ways to make the Schematic Design phase more efficient?

Sign up for a short demo of Layer App to streamline your Revit workflows in the Schematic Design phase.

Images courtesy of BVH Architecture.