Lesson Learned on Time for 3x30 – One Seneca Tower
Ever since our time in architecture school, we’ve constantly been confronted with deadlines that seemed impossible. Even as professionals we often agree to take on a project that ends up taking more time than we anticipated. In most cases, we focus our time and energy trying to develop our projects to the best of our ability, which results in multiple iterations and refinements.
How can we avoid spending too much time on every project?
Take the time to plan project milestones and tasks
Oftentimes, we’re caught in a moment of excitement or confusion and we’re asked about whether or not we’d like to take on a project or task. At the time, we’re able to clearly imagine the end product, which leads us to believe that the project will take a short period of time. In this moment, we quickly respond with a timeline for completing the project without fully understanding the tasks that will have to be completed.
While working on 3x30 – One Seneca Tower this week, I realized that my decision to work on the project alone would result in a longer timeframe for completion. At the final team meeting with the students, I knew that they would be traveling abroad for classes or going home for the summer break. So I decided to take the team’s existing Revit model of this skyscraper and bring it from the current conceptual design stages through schematic and design development.
With this in mind, I originally thought I would spend about 5 hours designing each of the 6 different units, which would be mirrored throughout the building. This would result in about a week and a half of focused design time in Revit. This week, I was working hard on designing one residential floor of the building and spent 4 hours developing the design of one corner unit. However, the design of the unit is only about halfway through its design and I’m realizing that the deadline I had in mind of June 1st will most likely shift to the end of June.
My next task is to take half an hour to write down the remaining design tasks for the project and determine how much time I’ll devote to each task to remain on my schedule of June 30th. Once these milestones and timeframes are determined, I’ll break up each task into smaller ones so that I could remain focused and motivated.
Avoid spending time making everything perfect
While designing the two bedroom unit of 3x30 – One Seneca Tower, I realized I was spending so much time dimensioning every wall, door, bathtub, toilets, etc. in an attempt to place each one perfectly in the space. A few minutes later, I would have a “eureka!” moment and deleted everything that I just designed for a new iteration. I was trying to make every move count and ensure that the design would be perfect in this first iteration.
In the future, I’ll focus on roughly designing the spaces and locating furnishings after each program’s area has been defined. This will reduce the amount of time wasted between the different iterations and will also help me in maintaining my sanity. Honestly, I’d like to dimension every component in the Revit model as I design, but I’ll save that for the design development phase of the project. Hopefully, this helps in reducing my time spent on the schematic design phase of 3x30.
Finding precedent examples of interior spaces
After spending 3 hours relocating and redesigning a luxury bathroom in the 2 bedroom unit of 3x30 – One Seneca Tower, my girlfriend watched and heard me struggling with the design. She suggested that I do a simple Google search for luxury bathrooms to get an idea of how the space was arranged, the types of fixtures that were used, sizes of showers and bathtubs, and so on and so forth. I couldn’t believe that I was focusing so much on designing the space that I forgot about my precedent boards on Pinterest.
So my third biggest lesson this week is to stop rushing into designing spaces and instead, figure out the types of spaces that will be in this building and compile precedents for all of them.
By rushing into the design of the building, I became so myopic in my workflow and continuously worked through problem after problem. I didn’t take a moment to turn my head away from the computer screen to develop a clear design process. As architects, we often jump right into design tasks without a clear plan of action, which ultimately results in wasted time and energy. So let’s take a second to plan out the milestones and steps to completing each one for our current or future project.