UA-140396414-1Design Development Phase – Theme Park Architect

Design Development Phase

What is the Design Development Phase?

The Design Development Phase is an advancement of the Schematic Design Phase. The Design Development phase – often referred to as the ‘DD’ phase – is a further refinement of the projects’s technical and creative design. The Architecture and Engineering team will continue to advance the physical requirements and building component relationships, refine the project’s overall and individual square footage requirements, will further define and determine the project’s and site building systems, engineering systems, and technical requirements.

  • Design Development is the fifth formal design phase of a theme park or themed entertainment project.
  • Design Development often is performed by a large design team – potentially the most estimated and budgeted for the project.
  • The Design Development phase precedes the Construction Documents Phase.
  • Design Development phase often incorporates and major creative design changes that have evolved since the Schematic Design phase.

Understanding the Design Development Phase

The Design Development (DD) phase is approximately mid-way through phase in the design process. In DD’s the technical effort and design refinement of all the architectural and engineering systems are advanced greatly in detail and are used to further refine the overall project’s cost estimate, the various code requirements affecting the project, and assist in directing and defining the later construction or implementation phase of the project.

The DD phase is more akin to the Schematic Design phase, however in the Design Development phase the theme park Architecture and Engineering teams are further advancing each of their respective design disciplines drawings and project specifications as well as coordinating extensively with the project’s Creative and Show team’s design effort.

If a project has a mechanical ride component, the coordinating effort during the DD phase with the A&E team as well as the Creative and Show team’s design is extensively explored and defined. The DD phase is often – in terms of the overall design schedule – one of the longest design phases for a project. Only to be surpassed, at times, by the later Construction Documents design phase.

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As with all theme park design phases, a specific list of deliverables are typically required by each major project group and design discipline. These deliverables will vary depending on the various groups of project team members. The final Schematic Design phase deliverables are reviewed by the various senior leaders, the project estimators, the project schedulers, the project’s various end users and other stakeholders relevant and impacted by the project’s evolution.

Related Terms

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About the Author J. Daniel Jenkins, AIA, NCARB is a licensed Architect, Theme Park Design Consultant, and former Senior Project Design Manager at Walt Disney Imagineering with over twenty years of subject matter expertise and design team leadership experience. Jenkins is the creator of who's goal is to teach individuals about theme park architecture and design, how to become theme park architects and designers, and discuss themed entertainment industry related topics. For nearly a decade, Mr. Jenkins has worked in the themed entertainment industry on new themed entertainment attractions, theme park lands, and new theme parks. Upon leaving Walt Disney Imagineering, Jenkins started his own Design Management Consulting company where he has consulted with and provided subject matter expertise and project leadership for new, confidential projects for several themed entertainment companies. Mr. Jenkins holds a five-year Master of Architecture degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design and a Virtual Design and Construction Certificate from Stanford University.
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