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How Specialty Building Materials Fit into the Architecture Design Process

The architectural design process is a complex and multi-phase process that involves a variety of stakeholders, including the client, design team, structural engineers, interior designers, zoning officials, and construction contractors. The process involves several key phases, including pre-design, schematic design, design development, construction documents, and construction administration. In this blog post, we will discuss how specialty building materials fit into the architectural design process.

1. Pre-Design Phase

The pre-design phase is the initial phase of the architectural design process. During this phase, the design team meets with the client to discuss their needs, goals, and objectives for the project. The team also conducts site visits to assess the existing conditions of the site and identify any potential zoning or building code issues. It is at this stage that architects begin to brainstorm potential solutions that could be integrated into the project to help their client to achieve specific goals while matching their desired aesthetic.

2. Schematic Design Phase

During the schematic design phase, the design team develops a concept for the building design. This includes creating floor plans, elevations, and renderings to convey the design intent to the client accordingly. During this phase, architects may also explore different design options and present them to the client for feedback. These plans remain high-level until signoff is achieved and details can be incorporated in the design development phase.

3. Design Development Phase

During the design development phase, the design team further refines the design concept and develops construction drawings. These drawings include information on building systems, construction details, and specialty building materials that meet the client’s needs and aesthetic preferences. For example, the team may specify a particular type of wood flooring, glass partition, or atrium skylight. The team may also work with a structural engineer during this phase to ensure that the building design is structurally sound.

4. Construction Documents Phase

During the construction documents phase, the design team develops a set of detailed blueprints and specifications that are used by construction contractors during the bidding process. The team may also work with a cost estimator during this phase to develop accurate cost estimates for the project. In addition to specifying the requested specialty building materials, the design team may also work with the construction contractor during the bidding process to select the most competitive bid from a construction company. The design team may review bids that include alternative materials or construction methods to find the best solution for the project.

5. Construction Administration Phase

During the construction administration phase, the design team works with the construction contractor to ensure that the building is constructed according to the final design intent and specifications outlined in the construction documents. The team may make revisions to the design or construction documents as needed to accommodate changes in the project scope or address any issues that arise during construction.


Specialty building materials play an important role in the architectural design process. They can impact the design intent, project scope, and overall cost of a construction project. By working with a knowledgeable supplier and construction contractor, architects can ensure that their building design incorporates the right specialty building materials for their clients’ needs and aesthetic preferences. The architectural design process is a collaborative effort that involves many stakeholders, and incorporating specialty building materials is just one aspect of this detailed process. By following each phase accordingly and communicating effectively with everyone involved, architects can ensure that their project is completed on time, on budget, and to their satisfaction.