What is Schematic Design?

Schematic design is one of the early phases of the design process and represents the ideal design of the project before moving forward into engineering and constructability. You will know your project’s layout, look, and basic materials at the end of the schematic design phase.

Step 1: Concept

One of the most important stages of the SD process is the creation of a concept. The concept is simply an overall idea that connects the architecture with your site, your program, and your experience. Because architecture exists between site, function, and experience we need an overall idea that ties everything together and can eventually help us make decisions about material, form, layout, and more.

Step 2: Schematic Design Draft

Once we have a concept and we have some basic diagramming from the pre-design we can now begin to create the draft design. Through a process of iteration, exploration, and basic modeling our team develops a draft design that meets your program, needs, and wants in the project.


Check out this video on our YouTube that shares some of the behind-the-scenes processes of schematic design. 

Step 3: Schematic Design Draft Meeting

After several iterations of potential design solutions, we share our findings with you and your team. Our Schematic Design Draft meeting is the first of many opportunities for you to offer feedback and work with us to explore different design options. The critique allows us to understand on a deeper level your wants and needs to design something truly custom to meet your program, your site, and your experience.

Step 4: Schematic Design Final

With your critique, we can now continue iterating and exploring the design further. After making the necessary changes to the SD Draft we add additional detail to the model and continue designing the project.

Step 5: Schematic Design Final Meeting

After another round of iterations, we share our Schematic Design. Our Schematic Design Final meeting is another opportunity to provide us with feedback. During this meeting, we all worked together to explore different design options and explore additional detail. The critique allows us to finalize the schematic design and issue a set of Schematic Design Drawings.

Step 6: Schematic Design Drawings and Cost Review

Construction costs are always important. After the schematic design, we send you a set of schematic drawings for pricing. Another opportunity for feedback, this time with cost in mind. Working with your contractor and/or cost consultant allows you to get an estimated construction price before we proceed to the next phase of design.

Step 7 (Optional): Renderings

A lot of clients want to see more realistic imagery of the design. Our rendering software allows us to convert the design model into photo-realistic renderings and videos to further understand your design.


 For more information about schematic design check out our blog post “Design Phase 1: What is Schematic Design?”