BWBR’s Design Process

Our design process always begins with spending time with your team, on site, to understand the project issues and build relationships that will enhance our ability to work together for project success. Every BWBR design is unique, because every client and project brings different dreams, different needs, and different circumstances to the table.

Our design approach is totally driven by that client-centered philosophy. It’s fast, free-flowing, and fun. And frankly, it’s one of the key things that sets us apart. We will expect and encourage your involvement — the more input early in the design phase, the better the results. From our work with committee-driven projects, we have developed a skillful approach to building consensus as we lead your stakeholders through the process of finding the right balance of the project’s “vision” with the realistic ramifications of budget, schedule, site, etc.

Firms do not design projects — people do. For the lead roles in each discipline, we assign senior, licensed professionals who have specific experience on similar projects, to interact with each other, your team, and the contractor. BWBR is very comfortable with leading teams, from two or three people to 40 or 50 on highly complex projects. We frequently collaborate with multiple consultants on projects, each of whom brings specialized expertise.

Our approach to design can be characterized as inspiration and creative vision supported by straightforward common sense. We ask good questions, keep discussions focused, encourage and build consensus, are flexible while exercising good judgment — and last, but certainly not least, we remain uncompromising in the quality of service and design we deliver.

Projects may pass through the following stages:

A graphic overview of some of the steps in Predesign through Construction Administration at BWBR

Predesign / Planning / Programming

Our effort begins with the “homework” — establish project goals, assess needs, define the project, analyze data, confirm the space program, and establish a project schedule. A thorough job here is the foundation of any successful building project. The larger or more complex the project, the more time that’s required. Some clients prefer that we complete all the fact-finding steps; others do some on their own. Either way, your input is especially critical at this stage, and is actively sought through meetings, user group interviews, and documentation.

Schematic Design

Schematic design begins when information needs are satisfied. Now we can frame a conceptual layout of the project. Design intent is established, and written information is translated into three-dimensional, architectural form. We create images from various angles and evaluate them. We explore massing, window patterns, texture, materials, walls, roof, circulation, site plan, parking, arrival sequence, spatial relationships, and more. Mechanical, electrical, and structural systems are outlined. Budget and schedule are refined. Initial specifications identifying products and methods are developed. A series of building code reviews (health, safety, fire, accessibility, zoning, security, etc.) begins.

Design Development

Design development takes the concept selected in schematic design to the next level of detail. During this phase, we research building materials for image, durability, climate, and cost. Detailed floor plans are completed. Building systems — exterior wall, partition wall, ceiling, flooring, etc. — are specified. The interior environment is fully developed, and the furniture, fixtures, and equipment are selected. Technical support systems — civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, and other specialties as needed — are finished. Building code compliance, quality assurance, budget, and schedule are reconfirmed.

Construction Documents

After you’ve approved the final, integrated design, we prepare construction documents. Contractors and clients have often told us that BWBR’s documents are among the best they’ve seen, reflecting our intense commitment to top-quality documentation. We feel that construction documents need to be painstakingly accurate. They lead to accurate pricing from the contractor, accurate bidding from subcontractors, and adherence to the budget through construction. They also facilitate correct and efficient construction, serving to clarify questions and prevent costly change orders. To ensure this level of accuracy, we undertake rigorous internal third-party QA assessments before documents are finalized.


In the bidding phase, information is clarified and refined for accurate pricing and final budgeting. Sets of construction documents are delivered to a selected list of bidders, depending on your preferences. Your construction manager helps determine appropriate building methods for the project, and requests bids from subcontractors as needed.

Construction Administration

Before construction begins, your construction manager leads a meeting with all major subcontractors to establish the project’s schedule and basic rules. During construction administration, regular, ongoing field observation and job-site meetings keep the work proceeding on schedule and as planned. At key points, we process paperwork (change orders, contractor payments) and check subcontractors’ shop drawings.

Ready to explore your design options?

Get in touch today!