The short answer is that Architectural programming is everything you need to know before you plan, design and draw. The longer answer is that programming is a process that a planning specialist and architect lead a client through to identify and articulate what the projects objectives and constraints are now and in the future. This process will involve asking very important questions then listening. At the end of the process the planning specialist and architect will establish the project design objectives from the list of needs, wants, and priorities in written and numerical form. The result will be a detailed work plan that will guide the Planning and Design process. Good, detailed programming is imperative to a successful project.
The final deliverables of Architectural Programming are a Project Narrative, Program Statement, Adjacencies Diagram, and a Preliminary Budget. The Project Narrative is an overview of the entire project explaining the project scope and goals. It also contains descriptions of each department and functional spaces such as equipment storage, meeting rooms, administrative space, and repair shops. The Program Statement is an overall numerical summary of the project (spreadsheet) identifying all individual building and site requirements at a departmental level. This statement include the following minimum information: existing spaces, proposed new spaces, future expansion, and tabulation of all space requirements including circulation, wall, and mechanical space. The Adjacencies Diagram is a graphically depiction of the spacial relationship of all the program elements to one another. The Preliminary Budget is an opinion of probable cost based on simple square footage cost of similar projects. Using experience from similar past projects we will recommend space needs, in the case of a unique requirement we will specifically study special space needs and adjacencies.
Steps in the programming process
• Identify the basic elements and set up a structure for collecting information and making decisions.
o Review existing organizational charts and employee lists
o Identify all influencers and decision makers
o Clarify how decision will be made
• Interview Key Personal
• Distribute a questionnaire to Staff
o Collect, tabulate and analyze survey results
• Perform a detailed survey of the existing space
o Identify structural and site elements
o Identify wall construction
• Inventory existing furnishings, fixtures and equipment
o Identify items for reuse, refurbishment and replacement
• Conduct building code analysis and meet with local code authorities.
• Produce Program Deliverables
o Project Narrative
o Program Statement
o Adjacencies Diagram
o Opinion of Probable Cost
This important first programming step is the foundation of any successful architectural plan and should not be short circuited to save, in most cases less than 1% of the entire construction budget. The time and cost involved in programming is critical to the very finest building and site development and planning.