Module 6 - Design Project Brief: Schematic Design — Building Layout & Circulation Elements

Module 6 - Design Project Brief: Schematic Design — Building Layout & Circulation Elements


The focus of this schematic design stage for your integrated design project is to use the insights that you’ve gained from thinking about your design goals and your analysis of conceptual design alternatives to create a very high-level model of the proposed design for your building.

We’ll continue to refine this initial design in the coming weeks and use it as the basis for your detailed systems designs in upcoming modules.

For this check-in you’ll create:

  • Space Budget — a list that identifies the functions and dimensions of all the programmed spaces in your proposed design.
  • Building Layout — a sketch or bubble diagram that shows the spaces in your proposed design with the connections between them as well as connections to exterior spaces.
  • Building Model — an initial building model. This first model will have a very low level of detail (LOD 200), using generic walls to indicate the preliminary sizes and locations of the major programmed spaces (based on your space budget and building layout diagram). Include the:
  • Exterior Walls — use generic walls to indicate the preliminary location of the exterior wall surfaces (don’t worry about modeling the windows, glazing features, and materials now -- you’ll do that next week in Module 7).
  • Exterior Doors — place doors to showing the access and egress locations.
  • Interior Walls — use generic walls to indicate the preliminary location of the interior wall surfaces (again, don’t worry about modeling the interior doors and architectural features -- you’ll do that in future weeks as you continue to design and refine your model).
  • Building Cores and Circulation Elements — place stairs and generic walls to indicate the preliminary locations of the building cores (stair and elevators shafts), circulation spaces (corridors and hallways), and utility spaces (public restrooms and mechanical rooms).

Recommended Approach

At this point in our design process, we’ll be transitioning from exploring options through sketches and conceptual mass models to developing an initial building model in Revit.

Using all the insights you’ve gained from your design thinking and analysis, you’ll create a first version of a building model that illustrates your design ideas to date and depicts the overall building form and locations of the major building elements including:

  • exterior walls
  • exterior doors
  • interior walls
  • building cores and circulation elements
    • stairs and elevator shafts
    • corridors and hallways
    • public restrooms and mechanical rooms
  • atriums and major architectural features

How Detailed Should This Version of Model Be?

This initial model won’t be very detailed.  For example, the precise locations of windows and glazing features and the layout of the plumbing fixtures in the restrooms should not be included at this stage — we’ll be adding that level of detail to your model in later modules.

But the preliminary locations of the walls and major architectural features should be carefully planned and placed accurately in your model.  We’ll be using this model as the basis for your detailed systems design modeling in upcoming modules — so, your future work will be much easier if the locations of these key elements are set and don’t keep moving around.

Can This Initial Model Be Changed Later?

You’ll continue to add detail and update this model throughout the remainder of the course.

Some items will move a bit as you do your detailed systems design — you’ll continue to come up with new design ideas that you haven’t yet considered, and you’re likely to discover that you’ll need to adjust some dimensions to accommodate the systems as you dive down into the details.

But careful planning at this stage will save you a lot of future work.  Moving a wall a few feet to improve your design is an easy change to accommodate — adding a new stair or moving the building core is a lot more work!

Thinking Ahead

In the weeks ahead, we’ll continue to develop the details of this initial building model as you design each of the major building systems.  If it helps your creative process, you can start thinking ahead to:

Building Envelope (Module 7)

  • Designing the building facades and roofs (materials, glazing, shading) to support the uses and design/sustainability goals for each of the spaces in your design.

Structural Systems (Module 8)

  • Designing the structural framework to support the gravity and lateral loads that your building will experience.
    • Where will the columns be located? Where can they be closely-spaced, and where would you like large open spans with few columns?
    • Do you want to showcase the structural frame as a feature of the user experience? Or hide it from view?

Progress Check-In / Documenting Your Design Journey

About Design Journal Entries

You’ll be sharing your ongoing design process and progress with others in our class community through a posting in an online Design Journal using Notion.

Feel free to use whatever format best captures the ideas that you want to share -- text, images, sketches, photos of hand sketches, intermediate models, results of analyses, and so on.

For this class, your design process is as important as the final result.

Post a Design Journal Entry

Create a new posting sharing your Design Journal entry on this linked Notion page:

✏️Design Project Check-In: Schematic Design — Building Layout & Circulation Elements

Your Design Journal entries this week should highlight your design thinking that influenced your decisions about:

  • the overall building layout
  • the locations of the entrances, exits, and circulation elements
  • the locations of the building cores

Your posting should include:

  • a link to your Space Budget
  • sketches or bubble diagrams showing the thinking behind your building layout
  • a link to your personal folder (containing your Revit model files) on our Autodesk Construction Cloud site

Weekly Design Project Check-In

You’ll sign up for an appointment next week with a member of the teaching team to review your progress and share tips about how to proceed.