How your Architect is like Santa

How does Santa know what to bring you for Christmas?  He looks at your list!  How does your architect know what spaces to put in your building?  You write her a list!  Well, really, a “program.”

A program is a bit more complicated than just a “wish list.”  It is a very detailed list of all the space needs for a project that includes size requirements, functions that need to be accommodated, and proximity of spaces relative to one another.

If you’re thinking about a new building or renovation, a program is a good place to start.  SOA’s E-Booklet on Programming goes over the basics and can help you decide if your new project is something you can program on your own, or if you should consult an architect.

Complicated projects benefit from hiring an architect to help generate a program as a Pre-Design service (see highlighted phase on timeline below).  The program lays the groundwork for all of the subsequent “Basic Services” phases (described in detail on our HOW WE WORK page).


Programming can also help confirm that your project budget is appropriate for the size of building that you need.  By taking rough cost/s.f. estimates multiplied by the total building area generated in your program, you can decide if some line items in your program are more “wants” than “needs.” This gives you an opportunity to reconsider components that are stretching your budget, or relegate them to a future construction phase.

Programming is, of course, the easiest and cheapest time to add or subtract big portions of your building, because they are just items on a list! Investing in a thorough programming process is well worth the effort and often saves time, money and headaches down the road.

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