A school's design can have a meaningful impact on the students and teachers that utilize the space. Educational needs, functionality, safety, energy efficiency, aesthetics, and accessibility are only a fraction of the many considerations involved in designing school facilities.
Wyoming § 21-15-116 states in part that “the school facilities department shall require school district boards of trustees to incorporate a collaborative committee process, advisory to the board, which assists the school district with planning district remedies for school buildings, ranging from site selection to project planning and design. The collaborative committee process for remedy development may include project stakeholders comprised of students, parents, teachers, principals, district administration, school board of trustee members, representative legislators, at-large members of the community and others…..”
The initiation of any phase for a school construction project is subject to approval of funding. No phase of the design shall proceed until the architect receives a written Notice to Proceed from the school district and SFD. Upon receipt of a written Notice to Proceed, the architect shall proceed only with the design services for that phase.
The steps typically involved in the design process include: pre-design, schematic design, detailed design, construction documents, and value engineering.
At the pre-design stage, assumptions made during the early planning/budgeting of the project are re-examined and the owner's requirements are developed, and if not already done, documented in a written “program plan,” including financial, time, and scope requirements, such as the School Facilities Commission's (SFC) allowable size of the facility, and the school district’s detailed educational specifications. The “program plan” is developed using the design guidelines as adopted by the SFC. It contains descriptions of educational and support spaces with their specific characteristics, for example:
Educational Specifications Document
This document is the responsibility of the district to prepare, sometimes with the assistance of an advisory committee. It explains and illustrates such information as the district’s educational philosophy, strategies, goals, staffing level, and needs.
Design Charrette Process
Sometimes referred to as visioning workshops, a design charrette is a collaborative process where participants work in a focused and sustained effort to develop a feasible building design that meets the educational goals of the school district. The process involves gathering ideas and input from multiple stakeholders in an effort to quickly advance the design process, including:
Participants may involve district superintendents, school board members, students, parents, teachers, community representatives, architects, consultants, and SFD staff.
The program plan, educational specifications document, and design charrette process often require the support of the architect or other consultant. It includes participation by the SFD staff and educational and/or community stakeholders. This information is used by the architect as a basis for the design of the facility. The purpose of this process is to understand and include current and future expectations of educational delivery within the community and the functional relationships within the anticipated facility. In addition, site analysis and master site planning may also start at this time to identify site limitations and requirements.
The architect prepares rough drawings - also known as schematic designs - that show a general layout of where rooms will be located, the placement of doors and windows, and how the building and site will be organized.
Detailed Design (Design Development)
The initial designs are refined and given more detail. For example, floor plans show rooms in the correct size and shape. A listing of major materials, room finishes, and special equipment is developed. The architect verifies that the design complies with building codes and works with engineers to design the structural, mechanical, and electrical systems.
Once the detailed design is developed and approved, the architect prepares detailed construction drawings (also known as blueprints), building specifications, and assembles other documents necessary for bidding, bid award and construction of the project.
Value engineering (VE) is an essential and common part of building design. In value engineering, the architect develops the “least cost” method or building systems that fit desired function and performance for the school building. The subsequent building design incorporates VE recommendations. The State has established regulatory requirements that include VE in the design process. Available budgets, initial capitalization, and long term operations and maintenance costs are considered in this process.
In addition, the VE process helps to provide optimal and equitable educational facilities. VE processes are not intended to weaken building design guidelines or eliminate design features. In some cases, VE processes add essential building systems, require the addition of educational space, and help reduce maintenance and other long term costs. Design guidelines typically provide flexibility, and in most cases provide for a range of design responses so that buildings are not insufficient or excessive in their design. VE analysis carefully considers overly costly design and provides alternatives.
The VE process establishes priorities to help the school construction project stay within budget. With established state budgets for the project, maximum allowable building space standards and changing market conditions, there have been cases where alternative designs are necessary to meet the budget. These are often difficult decisions. The VE consultant, architects, school district staff and SFD work together as a team to identify those designs that can be modified without a major change in building function or performance.
The VE teams regularly participate in multiple VE reviews which generally correspond with the progression of the design process. Designs do not proceed from phase to phase, until VE changes are incorporated or become a project “enhancement.” Once ready to proceed through the design (including budget compliance), SFD will issue a Notice to Proceed to the next phase of design. VE reviews typically occur at the 10% and 35% design phases but may continue throughout the project (60%, 95%, etc.), depending on the size and nature of the project. VE reviews typically include: