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

Schematic Design Phase

What is the Schematic Design Phase?

The Schematics Design Phase is an advancement of the Feasibility Design Phase. The Schematic Design phase – often referred to as the ‘SD’ phase – is a further refinement of the projects’s design. The Architecture and Engineering team, using the Owner or Operator’s program of space and site design along with the Creative design intent; will advance the physical requirements and building component relationships, refine the project’s overall and individual square footage requirements, will begin defining and determine the project’s and site building systems, engineering systems, and technical requirements.

  • Schematic Design is the fourth formal design phase of a theme park or themed entertainment project.
  • Schematic Design often is completed by a larger design team than utilized during the first three design phases.
  • The Schematic Design phase precedes the Design Development Phase.
  • Schematic Design phase efforts and final deliverables begin to address the multitude of technical issues affecting a projects design in greater detail.

Understanding the Schematic Design Phase

The Schematic Design (SD) phase is an early phase in the design process that for larger theme park projects will last longer in duration – in some cases – than the previous three design phases combined. In SD’s the technical effort and design refinement of all the architectural and engineering systems are explored in greater detail than the three previous design phases.

For example, the theme park design engineers will begin writing their ‘Basis of Design’ (BOD) books, typically one for each of the major engineering disciplines (excluding the civil engineers). The engineers BOD documents may incorporate code and condition survey findings explored or gathered during the Concept and/or Feasibility design phases. This type of information may inform the project’s new engineering design technical components and design. The engineers BOD documents will be coupled with very early, high-level engineering plans that may be used to assist in delineating the new design of each of their respective engineering disciplines. Both the BOD and the early engineering drawings will be utilized by the project estimating team to further refine the project’s overall estimated cost-to-date.

Theme park Architects, during the SD phase, will continue to advance the project’s facility design effort. In SD’s, the Architect will advance the building(s) floor plans, exterior elevations, begin defining important interior elevations, they will begin to refine the building(s) massing via 3D modeling, the roof plan and Architectural site plans will be advanced, the interior reflected ceiling plans will begin to delicate geometry and materials, and the Architect will formulate an outline specification book that will eventually contain all of the technical information for each building system and building components.

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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 themeparkarchitect.com 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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