The Gehrung+Graham Process


Although each project is as unique as the client we work with, Gehrung+Graham’s architectural process outlined below remains consistent across project type and scale. Gehrung+Graham emphasizes building an open and collaborative team on both commercial and residential projects, starting with the Architect-Client relationship and extending to the consultants and contractors.

The AIA provides assistance to people interested in using an AIA architect. You can learn how to prepare for your meeting by visiting their website HERE. Gehrung+Graham is committed to creating satisfying designs and positive Client-Architect experiences. The AIA provides guidance to home and business owners when selecting an architect. Please visit HERE to read more about selecting your architect.


1.         Survey Phase

Existing Conditions Survey. The Architect surveys  the existing conditions and takes precise measurements of the site. The Architect then prepares  a complete set of Existing Conditions Survey (ECS) documents, which includes a floor plan at all levels and a building elevation at each exterior facade of the building. These documents will be referred to by the Architect throughout the project.

Programming. Programming is the process of identifying and organizing essential information about site (which may include a previous structure) as it currently exists, and determining how it relates to the Project as described above.  The Architect will typically meet once with the Client during this phase to discuss s the Client’s priorities and establish the Project requirements, including an initial  budget. A Program Statement is then prepared by the Architect for approval  by the Client prior to proceeding with any design work.

2.         Conceptual Design Phase

The first phase of the formal design process is the Conceptual Design phase. This phase is programmatic and focuses on problem-solving through the  creative visualization of an overall concept. In a sense, it is the beginnings of the “big idea.” Through Client/Architect brainstorming sessions, the fundamental relationships of space and layout are explored and creative strategies are tested. At the conclusion of this phase, a Gehrung+Graham Architect prepares a Conceptual Design package which includes 3D model visualizations to convey the kernel idea(s) of the Project.

3.         Schematic Design Phase

The Schematic Design phase builds on the foundation laid during the previous Conceptual Design phase.  In this stage, the project truly begins to take shape. Programming information is incorporated, and basic spatial relationships are developed. Schematic Design Documents are prepared by the Architect and presented to the Client for approval. These documents include initial plans and sketches, a conceptual site plan, if appropriate, and preliminary building plans, sections and elevations. Often, multiple project solutions may be presented during this phase.

4.         Design Development Phase

Design Development documents are created based on the approved Schematic Design. These documents  illustrate the scope of the Project,  describing potential refinements as well as establishing relationships, form, size and the overall appearance of the Project by means of plans, sections and elevations, typical construction details, and equipment layouts. The Design Development documents also include specifications that identify major materials and systems and establish general quality levels. With the Client’s approval of the Schematic Design, a Gehrung+Graham Architect develops additional details to refine and describe the character of the Project. For example, interior spaces that require special design features, treatments and/or upgrades will  be incorporated into the Design Development drawings. The Architect may assist the Client in the selection of hardware, finish plumbing fixtures, tile, stone, lighting, and paint colors. The Design Development drawings shall be approved by the Client prior to proceeding to the next phase.

5.         Construction Documents Phase

Based on the approved Schematic Design and Design Development drawings as well as any further adjustments in the scope and/or budget for the Project, Gehrung+Graham Architects prepare a set of Construction Documents during this phase which consists of drawings and specifications suitable for filing with the Building Department and subsequent construction by a qualified General Contractor. Construction Documents  include, but may not be limited to:

Architectural Floor Plans delineate existing structures, proposed demolition, and new construction. They also cross reference details and sections on subsequent drawings.

Power and Data Plans show electrical receptacles and telephone, cable and internet locations, as well as finish plumbing fixture locations.

Reflected Ceiling Plans show  accurate placement of ceiling mounted lighting fixtures with their associated switching arrangements, as well as locations for required smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.

Building Elevations at each exterior facade show the existing structure with details on the  proposed new construction including notes indicating finishes, materials and any special conditions.

Details, Sections, Schedules and Notes communicate, in detail, different aspects of the design relating to construction and/or code requirements.  These details are essential in conveying the design concept to the General Contractor, the subcontractors, and the Building Department.

6.         Bidding and Selection of Contractors

The Architect shall assist the Client in assembling, distributing and evaluating the bid package, which includes:

  • Preparing and distributing the Construction Documents to each Bidder selected by the Client
  • Coordinating and attending a pre-bid meeting with the Bidders (as required)

  • Addressing Bidder’s questions and concerns (as required)

  • Assisting the Client with the evaluation of the bids

  • Assisting the Client with the awarding of the contract

7.         Construction Administration Phase

Based on the signed contract between the Client and General Contractor, Gehrung+Graham provides additional important services during construction, including meetings to clarify building documents and assistance in expediting the Project to stay on schedule. A Gehrung+Graham Architect will also make frequent visits as appropriate to monitor the construction progress over the course of the Project.