Architect's Productivity

Hello everyone,


I'm a PhD candidate at Techical University of Gdansk. My field of research is digital morphogenesis. I'd like to ask you for your opinions on several matters regarding architectural practice. First of all, I'm interested in productivity matters, so:

What is average time needed, from work-load stand point in the process of designing (taking into account everything from scratch), to deliver ready concept project of a:


A. middle-sized house

B. apartment building? 

What I'm interested in is real case answears example: designing a concept phase of a single-family house took me 1 month of all the work summed up

Jan 10, 13 10:21 am

A. Depends on how fickle the client is and if they are paying on time.

B. Depends on how fickle the client is and if they are paying on time.

Jan 10, 13 4:48 pm

A custom home will typically take three or more times longer to get through the design phase than a speculative apartment building. I had one house I did in the 90s that was in concept and schematics for almost two years. A mid-rise spec apartment building can get through design in six to eight weeks if you're efficient about it.

Jan 10, 13 5:16 pm

Thank you for your answears,

 If you were to rank elements needed to design from the most difficult to the easiest and from the most important to the least important, than how those ranking would look like?

Are you able to create such ranking at all?

Jan 11, 13 5:33 am

To your original question - every project is its own case, at least in my experience. Delivery of a concept, specifically, is not that difficult unless the context (spatial/economic) impose heavily into the real-estate.

Context and expertise plays a huge role. A middle-sized house with a new client in rural Montana is will be different tan a middle-sized house for a construction experienced client in rural Malaysia. With the exception of the experience of all parties involved, the budget and the bureaucracies involved I don't know how you could create a all encompassing hierarchy of elements and priorities. You get done what you can get done, to the best of your ability, as time/expectations/money allow.

Jan 11, 13 9:57 am

The biggest contributing factors affecting design time are (in order from most to least):

  • 1) Client quality and experience
  • 2) Program complexity and scope
  • 3) Budget limitations
  • 4) Regulatory complexity
  • 5) Site complexity
  • 6) Program type

Notice that project type is pretty low on that list. The reason custom homes are design intensive, for instance, has a lot more to do with issues 1 & 2 than 6 (mostly #1). Custom home clients are often inexperienced and can be difficult to deal with. Also, despite the residential typology, custom homes tend to have highly-complex and idiosyncratic program complexities and constantly-changing scope issues.

Most importantly, however, is understanding the real nature of the design process in order to manage it more effectively toward positive and timely resolution. Design is not a linear process. It's iterative and non-linear: addressing what are called "wicked" problems ( The more "wicked" the problem is, and the more disjointed the people with a stake in the outcome are, the longer and more difficult the design process will be. That's the absolute most important consideration of all.

Jan 11, 13 12:41 pm

gwharton, bluesidd, Well said!! especially with custom homes, there comes a point when you have to stop reading & rereading the box and bake the darn cake!

Jan 11, 13 3:31 pm

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