The design development phase consists of deeper examinations
of the proposed design elements and building systems. Structural solutions,
electrical and mechanical systems, materials, finishes and colors, as well
as many other aspects of the design are further explored. During this phase
the bones of the construction documents are laid down as these explorations
demand drawn solutions. Another cost estimate is advisable during this phase
to insure that budgetary goals are intact.
Another crucial and seemingly ever-expanding portion of this phase of the
work is to prepare documents for planning department approval. Depending on
the locale the level of scrutiny entailed varies greatly. Approval may be
administrative, meaning that it is carried out amongst the planning
staff; or it may be a process requiring a public hearing. The latter route
is a very unpredictable one, fraught with uncertainty, but it is one that
is increasingly common as municipalities become ever more timid with regard
to the question of detriment. Many municipalities are instituting a formalized
design review process, a mechanism which usually insures mediocrity by outlawing
the wonderful for fear of the awful. This process is also time consuming and
less than predictable.
The design development phase dovetails with the next phase, construction documents,
in such a complex way that the threshold between the two is often blurred.
Certainly a landmark in the design development process is planning approval.