Schematic Design Phase

The purpose of schematic design is to translate the project program into physical drawings of space. In schematic design, the project team determines the areas, physical requirements and relationships of all the required building spaces and components, then confirms or revises the total building square footage and the total project budget, as well as the project schedule and occupancy dates.

Schematic design includes a complete description of building systems (structural, mechanical, HVAC, plumbing and electrical), interior and exterior finishes and the building site. It provides control strategies for all equipment and systems relating to building services such as security and fire alarms and defines the technical requirements for phones, data, cable and audio-visual needs.

The schematic drawings—floor plans, site plans and building elevations—are reviewed and refined for functionality, usability, required adjacencies, code compliance, security, safety and aesthetics. The project program and the schematic drawings are scrutinized for possible errors or omissions. The plans are shared and discussed with staff in other areas of the University such as Maintenance, Custodial, Logistics, Information Technology and Public Safety, to identify possible problems and to coordinate with the needs and practices in these areas.


  • Building elevation: a drafted view of the exterior of the building as if you were standing and looking at it. Usually all four sides of the building are provided—the east, west, north and south elevations. There may also be interior elevations, which depict the view of a vertical surface inside the building, such as a view of a corridor wall or the front of an auditorium.
  • Existing site plan or "existing conditions plan": a map of the proposed area of construction, identifying all pertinent adjacent landscaping, bodies of water, roads, and buildings, and may also locate or identify features that may affect construction, such as rights-of-way, buried utilities or soil conditions.
  • Floor plan: a drafted view of the building floor plan or layout. A floor plan is essentially a line drawing of what you would see if the building were sliced horizontally at four feet above the floor surface, the top half removed and you looked down at the exposed bottom half. Floor plans may include dimensions, equipment, furnishings and other construction details.
  • HVAC: heating, ventilating and air conditioning.
  • Project team: the group of people, led by the project manager, that plan, organize, direct and control a specific project.
  • Site plan: a drafted view of the location of the proposed project. A site plan places the proposed building on the building site, along with the various necessary site improvements such as landscaping, walkways, roads, utilities connections and service drives.

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