How we work
Regardless of project, discipline, or media, as an interdisciplinary firm we generally employ the same process. We have found the process to be adaptable to any type of project, regardless of size, complexity, or final product. Our approach emphasizes collaboration with clients and subject matter experts, and an iterative methodology aimed at defining the problem in order to hone in on a solution.
Director of Landscape Architecture
To start seeking answers, we must first ask questions—lots of questions. We are interested in everything that may impact the process, factors for its success, who the decision makers are, and what you want the user to feel or understand. What is the problem here?
From discovery comes definition. What does solution look like, where will it go, how are we going to deploy it, what emotional connections are we trying to evoke, and why is this project important? These are just a few of the questions that help us define our exploration.
If discovery leads to definition, then design is about exploration. We start generating many ideas—hundreds sometimes—evaluate them against the objectives defined earlier, then run a few concepts through their paces. It is in this phase that design begins to take shape. The goal here is to work with the client choose a direction for further refinement.
A good idea can only be great once it has gone through a rigorous development process. We refine everything from the form to colour, from language to tone, from massing to materiality. The development phase is an iterative process. We constantly refine a solution, test it, and then refine it again. We then test our results against the project objectives, as a prototype or with the public.
Once a design has been finalized, it must be documented. Documentation differs, depending upon the product. Some of our team members document a design and details in a series of construction drawings and specifications. Some teams, like our graphic designers, ensure quantity and delivery method are in order. Other team members develop final code, test it repeatedly, then document the code such that a future designer or coder can take over the project with ease. Whatever the discipline, the design must be documented such that others know how to build a project or how to maintain it over its lifetime.
For many projects, there is an administration component. For our architecture teams, it involves a rigorous construction administration phase, followed by a deficiency review, and project close-out, similar to the work of our landscape architects or interior designers. For interpretive planners, it is about overseeing an installation: everything from securing rights for image use, to managing an installation. For print designers, we ensure the product matches the design intent, going on-press or supervising production. For electronic exhibits it means we usually do the install, testing and hardware maintenance scheduling. Ultimately, this phase is about delivering the best results that need the least amount of maintenance and repair.