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Published April 22, 2019
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Understanding the importance of pre-design services

Clients often begin their building process with an idea or concept that excites them. While it's a joy to experience, such exuberance may blind would-be builders to a wide variety of needs and concerns. That's one reason Sparks Reed recommends starting any project with one or more of our extensive PRE-DESIGN SERVICES

These services may take our architecture and interior design customers through vision planning, project and cost analysis, feasibility studies, fundraising options, and many other discovery steps. These services may involve anything from focus group sessions and existing or potential site studies to long-term usage/growth projections and field trips to examine similar facilities.

Through such steps, pre-design services usually deliver multiple benefits.

  • They may uncover and identify many issues clients didn't know or overlooked, such as existing building or site concerns, operational demands, growth needs, regulatory hurdles, and budget options. 

  • They help form a consensus and unity among users, supporters, and the community. 

  • They create and chart a path for completing a successful project that everyone may participate and believe in. 


Perhaps most important, these services usually end up saving clients time, money, and heartache, all while delivering a facility that meets everyone's needs in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible. 

Sparks Reed's pre-design services include:

  • Programming.

  • Feasibility studies.

  • Site evaluation and analysis.

  • Space planning.

  • Project scheduling.

  • Cost modeling.

  • Fundraising assistance.

  • Master planning

  • Campus master planning.

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The Sparks Reed Way

Many architectural firms start their pre-design services at the project goal stage – learning what type of building the client desires, its purpose, size, and location. Having been hired by a client with a goal in mind, such firms apply their expertise and industry knowledge to outline and develop potential solutions. This approach usually ends with a pitched product that is the architect's vision, not the client's.

Sparks Reed takes a different approach. Through our PROGRAMMING services, we start by studying the client's goals, operations, and structural assets. We hold small-group meetings with interest holders – management, board members, and other stakeholders – so that we truly understand the client's vision and mission, operations and scope, potential, and environment needs. We fine-tune these studies through more focus groups to advance everyone's project understanding and footing. 

Such gatherings allow Sparks Reed to interact with the client at various levels and learn to a finer degree not just what the client wants and needs, but what the best solutions might involve. Sparks Reed team members may then accompany client leaders and supporters on field missions to study facilities similar to those identified, seeing first-hand what works and what does not.

These steps help assure that the project's nature, purpose, and design remain the client's, not ours. We have a general name for this listening and learning process: THE SPARKS REED WAY. We'll talk more about that later.

Digging in

Programming studies may suggest needs for FEASIBILITY STUDIES – research and quantified analysis to determine if a project is realistic and achievable with the budget or logistics available. Such studies may dive into site conditions, renovation or construction options, material choices, environmental issues, building codes, weather potentials, time and contractor variables, budget requirements, funding, or other conditions involving that project. Such research helps identify the best, most workable options to deliver what the client wants and needs.


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Programming studies may also suggest or reveal needs for SITE EVALUATION AND ANALYSIS. Quite often clients start their building plans with a location in mind, only to discover that location is not suitable for their operations, goals, growth ambitions, or construction needs. Site evaluation and analysis helps to identify the size property needed for the client's intended and potential future usage. It may plot access and traffic options, environment and environmental concerns, applicable zoning and building hurdles, and other construction necessities. It grounds the client's vision and focuses dreams on reality.


Bringing everything into focus

SPACE PLANNING is another tool that brings vague construction ideas into focus. This pre-design service identifies all the rooms or areas needed to accommodate the client's existing and future operations. It suggests how big or small such spaces need be, how to arrange them on the property, and how pedestrian, security, mechanical, vehicular, and parking traffic routes might connect them. It helps clients realize and utilize individual, specialized, multipurpose, environmental, community, and safety areas.  

The bottom line

COST MODELING helps all involved understand how all these different issues may impact the client's budget, thereby anchoring their visions in financial realities. To accomplish this pre-design service, Sparks Reed often brings a third party in for expert guidance – a general contractor, construction manager, or an independent cost-estimating company. This service also provides a comparative analysis for when the client's chosen general contractor provides its project cost estimate.

As the cost modeling may suggest, clients may find they lack the necessary funds for everything their chosen project entails. That's when clients may turn to Sparks Reed's FUNDRAISING ASSISTANCE services. This pre-design service provides clients one or more potential products – such as renderings, images, graphics, articles, posters, videos, 3D visuals – for use in advertising, circulars, mailings, social media, and other marketing platforms. Sparks Reed executives also may participate in public, fundraising, and donor meetings to explain projects and answer questions.


Back to the future

If a client enters with a vision and little more, they may hire Sparks Reed to provide MASTER PLANNING. This pre-design service may involve some or all of the above services to help clients outline a step-by-step plan for achieving the desired result by a future timeline. Clients looking beyond one goal or project may hire Sparks Reed to develop a long-range CAMPUS MASTER PLAN to guide leadership for decades to come. 

Through all of these services, Sparks Reed focuses first and foremost on listening to the client and its stakeholders, for the better listener we are, the more our ideas and creative efforts reflect the client's vision. This grounding improves how Sparks Reed explores the options available to clients and their projects. Our passion, you see, is to deliver a design that accomplishes all of our client's goals, fits its budget capabilities, and promises long-term value, all the while wowing our client and its audience with a one-of-a-kind facility. By delivering that special solution, we hit our goal of exceeding your expectations – and not just with the final project, but every step along the way. 

That's what we call the Sparks Reed Way: Listen, Explore, Exceed. It's worked for hundreds of clients, many of whom our website lists on different pages. 

It will work for you.

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