I am currently deeply involved in my first considerable foray into the land of Construction Documents. I have done smaller packages in the past that lasted several months, but the last few years I have been so involved in the front-end design side of the business that I honestly feel like I am yet again a newbie to this strange and foreign place.
For those unaware, putting together a set of Construction Documents is a highly focused, intensely intricate exercise in delaying madness. It involves advancing all aspects of a building concept to the point where an organized [hopefully] group of complete strangers with no interest in why anyone decided a building should be a certain way will be able to take the physical documents that you produce and figure out how you intended the building to be built.
I am [mostly] joking but it truly does require tremendous effort, ingenuity and focus to follow through with and this process has really expanded my Architectural lexicon considerably since the beginning. We are currently a couple months away from our scheduled completion of the project and things are progressing pretty well, but the enormousness of the task at hand is still amazing. It has been a really exciting process to see the concepts and designs that we developed over the last year+ take shape, to see them be challenged by things I had never considered and to work on solving new, more complex problems. Sometimes, we try to consider the original concept and find a way to make the details support it; sometimes, we realize that the original concept was not really a viable one for one reason or the other and need to consider alternatives; sometimes, we can't remember what the heck the original concept was! One major lesson that I have learned throughout this process is the importance of a strong design concept that can inform all scales of the project moving forward. In the particular project that I am currently working on, we have found ourselves answering numerous questions about how to do a certain detail or what type of system should be used by referring back to the most simple, conceptual way to describe the building and by letting that concise metaphor set rules for how things are to be detailed within the building. It seems really abstract, but at the end of the day there are truly infinite ways to do things so having a simple, concise concept helps tremendously in defining what works. Being able to sum up the entire concept as easily as "Well, it is about solid-void-solid." is actually really helpful because it may describe the original planning concept of the project, which in turn becomes the massing concept, which can then define how the fenestration patterns emerge and as the process evolves eventually becomes a way to talk about the interior finish concept right down into the finer details that define how things come together in the building. The simplicity and clarity of a concept can relate and inform the project at all scales.
More to come, but for now... back to these damn CD's!