1. Building Design
Building design is the core architectural service. This task is divided into four parts:
Call for Bids (optional)
Schematic design (how will my project look like). This phase is about creating the general shape of the building with the layout of the spaces, looking at the by-laws, testing the budget.
Design development (how will my project work). This phase is taking things one step further, thinking about materials and the integration of structure and services.
Construction documents (how to build my project). This phase is where all the plans and specifications are developed to receive bids from contractors.
Call for bids (who will build my project and for how much). This phase is about getting prices and signing a contract with a contractor to build the architecture.
Designing in 3D: The BIM Approach
Since 2010, I develop all my projects with the Revit software. It is an advanced 3D software that creates a model of the building.
What are the advantages?
The main advantage with Revit is that clients can see and understand their building in 3D. It allows to make design decisions with confidence.
I do client presentations in physical meetings or online with the Revit model. I walk through the spaces like an architectural tour. This allows everyone to see and comment on the project and even test ideas.
From a technical point of view, plans, sections, elevations and detail drawings are taken from the same model. This insures consistency, compared with the traditional method of creating separate files for each drawing.
For example, in Revit, if a door is eliminated, the representation of the door disappears instantly in all drawings that show that door.
What is construction administration?
Construction administration is the administration of the construction contract that is signed between the client and the contractor.
The architect represents the clients towards the contractor and follows the construction of the building.
I ensure, with the engineers, that the contractor understands and executes the instructions correctly. I answer questions, give clarifications and issue additional information as required.
The construction work is normally paid in monthly installments by the client to the contractor, following payment requests from the contractor.
I analyse the payment requests, verify that the amounts correspond to the actual progress of the work. For example, if the contractor asks to be paid 40% of the interior partitions but I consider that only 25% of the work has been done, I will ask the contractor for explanations and, depending on the answers, I may recommend to pay a revised percentage.
When I do site supervision, I document the progress with a lot of photos.
I look for errors or faulty execution. I compare non-conform work with the construction documents. I produce reports where I describe the construction progress and highlight the parts to correct. I send a copy to the client and contractor for follow up.
When the construction of the building is completed, the client has to accept the work. This stage is very critical.
According to the Civil code of Quebec, the client may accept it with, or without reservation. If there are no reservations, then any apparent defect or poor workmanship is considered accepted at the time of final reception.
As part of the Construction administration tasks, the architect and engineers make a list of all defects they notice and include them in the certificate of final reception. They become the client’s reservations.
2. Theatre Consultancy
Questions on how to plan a theatre or a performance space ?
I offer assistance in drafting a program and expressing the needs required in simple architectural terms.
In all theatre projects I worked on, translating the needs into spaces was an issue for the client: not being able to fully comprehend or determine the rooms required, their size and layout.
I work with consultants who are actively involved in theatre productions in America, Europe and Asia with practical knowledge of the operations and how theatres are used. This knowledge is crucial to draft the design brief and architectural and engineering program that will be used to design the actual building.
Documentation and Research
After designing my first theatre in Dolbeau-Mistassini in 2008, I documented the project to publish the information I could not find in books. I created a dedicated site where I posted this information:
In 2019, I was awarded a one year contract to assist the City of Montreal as an “architect-scenographer” to advise the project managers on the development of future projects.
My task was to help elaborate the program, give a preliminary layout of the auditorium and stage volume and elaborate the technical requirements of the performance spaces.
3. Program Definition
What is a program?
The program—also called Design Brief—is a list of the rooms in a building with their corresponding floor surfaces. Here are two examples:
The program includes other requirements that guide the building design, including the budget. The objective of the program is to establish the size, the cost and the applicable urban requirements. It can be considered as a part of a feasibility study.
Some institutional clients have professional firms who write their program before they start a project. Other clients have an idea of what they want but need assistance to create a formal document.
For all projects, the program must be established before the building design starts.
Cost and expertise
Who can do a Program Definition? An architect or specialized consultant knowledgeable in the operations of the building type.
It can cost from $5,000 to $50,000 depending on the complexity and scale of the building—if it is either a single family house or a 1000-seat theatre for example. The Program Definition often requires the input from engineers, landscape architects and code specialists to define the full scope of a project.