A Walk Through the Landscape Architecture Process: What Developers Can Expect

    by Brandon Reed / December 4, 2017

    A Walk Through the Landscape Architecture Process_What Developers Can Expect.jpg

    Designing the outdoor spaces for your high-end multifamily or mixed-use development projects in Utah and beyond is an exciting and collaborative process. But, doing things the right way and not rushing through the process is crucial to ensure that you’re getting what you truly want out of your investment. There is a process for landscape architecture that developers must understand.

    The design process outlined below describes how landscape architectural projects are structured in terms of the key stages that form important milestones during the design and construction of a typical landscape development. 

    The landscape architectural design process

    The design process can be broken down into four phases: Design Brief, Design Development, Construction, and Project Closeout. These phases are not just a linear sequence, but overlap and interact in many ways.


    Phase #1: Design Brief

    The first step of a landscape architectural project is to understand the developer’s needs and goals. The vision is clarified or refined in this phase, as general expectations and desires are articulated. Asking the right questions at this phase is imperative to success. That’s how the endless possibilities for your landscape are narrowed down to arrive at a design plan that is right for your development. This assessment will help the landscape architect find the key that unlocks the potential of your development and its outdoor areas.


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    Phase #2: Design

    This phase is comprised of the following steps:

    1. Pre-Design

    During the pre-design phase, the landscape architect and client map the project, trying to anticipate problems that may affect budgets and schedules during the course of the landscape project. Pre-design explores the relationships between the development project and its surrounding environment to help determine the optimum choices for the site and the users. This is the planning phase, and as a result the priorities are:

    • Researching the market
    • Site analysis and evaluation
    • Feasibility studies with possible outcomes
    • Defining and optimizing a vision
    • Creating a realistic budget and timeline

    2. Conceptual Design

    The conceptual or schematic design stage builds upon the vision developed in pre-design. It is the phase for thinking “outside the box,” for exploring innovative concepts and trends in outdoor amenities, working towards the broad goals and objectives set out in Pre-design. Typically, several design options are explored and evaluated in this phase. The purpose is to find the right design concept without getting lost in detail prematurely. This process is informed by the site analysis described above.

    3. Design Development

    The project is now taking real form, as we develop your chosen design direction and guide you through a series of decisions, culminating with final design approval. The first step is to take the overall look of the design to the next level of refinement, after which we delve into detailing—apportioning the layout, and honing in on finish levels and material selections. With these decisions in place we coordinate this next level of refinement in collaboration with all design consultants.


    4. Construction Documentation

    Construction Documentation is the final design phase within the project delivery model. This phase focuses upon finalizing a set of comprehensive drawings and specifications for landscape components that will form the basis for the project’s Building Permit Application and approval process. Construction Documents establish in detail the requirements for the construction of your landscape elements, the quality of materials and building systems required for obtaining costs and providing instruction for the construction of the landscape project.  


    Phase #3: Construction

    In this phase, the main design plans are realized. Many factors must be considered to ensure that the goals of the project are carried through to completion. Qualified contractors are chosen, communication procedures are set in place, and the expanded team works to transform the abstract into actuality. Special attention is paid to the design intent in working through the inevitable construction-phase changes and adjustments (that invariably occur). 

    During this phase, we assist clients with the bidding process, review contractor material submittals, addenda, ASI, and RFI responses, site observation visits, providing supplemental information and confirming construction completion prior and during turnover of the project from the contractor to the client.


    Phase #4: Project Closeout 

    This is a key transition phase during which the design team must ensure responsibility for and knowledge of the building is properly transferred to the building’s new stewards: the owner, occupants, and operations staff. The landscape architect will assemble the whole product into one comprehensive book detailing the process and plans. This includes all relevant documents, drawings, renderings, specifications, and manuals. The manuals ought to be tailored to allow optimal maintenance for your final product. Make sure that all of this gets to the right hands, be it the new owner or the new manager of your building.


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    Tags: Landscape Architecture

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    Brandon Reed

    Brandon Reed

    I help top level architects and developers create landscapes that elevate the human experience.

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