Design Philosophy and Process

Design Philosophy and Process

Design Philosophy

TAB Associates, Inc. believes there are many portions of our design philosophy that separates us from others. We believe our process and experience combined with the technology we use creates the distinction. Our attitude completes it.

We understand architecture, and we strive to understand our clients’ desires. Architecture is unlike other professions because clients know what they like and that is one of the major components of design to any project. It is our goal to synthesize these desires with architecture. We believe it is our duty to design for our clients and not for ourselves. We know that an Architects’ worst enemy is his ego and his best ally is his ability to combine artistic expression, construction technology and the client’s needs/desires.

In the architectural discourse, some Architects and firms have quite a few awards. It may not be common knowledge but to receive an award, an Architect has to submit a project for consideration. Some firms actually have an entire department assigned to this task of chasing awards. Our philosophy concludes that these awards are just to bolster the Architect’s ego. We would rather put that energy and effort into our clients’ projects. Our awards come in the form of satisfied, euphoric, and proud clients.

Architecture is a balance of ideas, requirements, and financial guidelines.  We strive to provide:

– Balance in design,

– Balance between design and program,

– Balance between design and construction,

– Balance between construction cost and budget.

Our Process

Our process begins with a thorough program which is written generically from the basic client room desires and ideas for finishes which are then refined and organized to create what we call, “the pieces of the puzzle.” These “pieces of the puzzle” are used as building blocks to determine room sizes and adjacencies while also incorporating desired inclusion of home features.

We request a meeting on site with the Topographical Surveyors so we can request certain views “shot” from certain places on site. We may also request certain surrounding buildings located as well as any site features such as trees, rock outcroppings, fences, etc. When the topographical survey is received, the site will be studied for vehicular access and storage. Our primary concern relevant to formulating the initial layout will be the “views”. Many environmental factors also come into play. From either a privacy standpoint or just undesirable, some views are planned to be blocked. Topography determines access and vertical circulation in the three dimensional design. Both winter and summer sun paths must be considered. Wind protection plays an important role in forming outdoor living spaces. The interplay of indoor and outdoor spaces is a significant consideration. The introduction of water elements can be very important. We develop a Site Analysis from this information.

The views received from the Surveyor are verified for location and distance on our topographical program. We have all of Colorado and North Carolina (as well as other states) in the topographical program. The views are studied in plan and in section to determine the true requirements of them. We need to know exactly where they are so we can locate them in the CADD drawing. We will have lines in plan and in section from the actual view locations back to the site so we can “drag” the view lines around into any room or location in the home to determine how they interface with the design. Because this is done in plan and in section, we not only know where to put the windows and how wide, but also how high, as not to cut off the views at the top. Nothing is worse than walking into a space and to have the mountain top cut off by the top of a window.

The site is the most important driver of a design next to the program. We always say we are three dimensional puzzle builders; we just need our clients to give us the “pieces of the puzzle,” the importance of their relationships and a site, so we may begin our analysis. We do not design in a bubble. We design step by step with our client’s understanding so when they are finally in the built environment, they know exactly how the design was resolved.



Conceptual design provides the Owner with an understanding of the Program and the Site Analysis. This is the most important phase of design. If a great conceptual design is developed, the rest of the design occurs due to process, the process of evolution of the design, ever increasing in completeness and detail. To do so, we develop conceptual plans with accurate room sizes and relationships. We may provide some optional concepts to generate thought and comment. Eventually, the concept direction is chosen and more fully developed. Typically the design evolves from the main level to the lower level, the main level creating the footprint for the lower level. The upper level follows shortly. A conceptual elevation is developed from the plans. Once the Owner is thrilled with the concept, the Design Team proceeds to Schematic Design.



The plans begin to take shape with windows, doors, cabinets, appliances, plumbing fixtures and furniture. A roof plan is developed. The exterior elevations are developed from the plans and some give and take is needed to provide pleasing forms. To illustrate the forms, computer aided modeling is used. We have typically use AutoCAD and/or Revit, depending on the scope of a project. After the computer modeling is reviewed and approved, a physical model can be provided. At this point, once the Owner is pleased with the direction, the Owner takes ownership and the design proceeds to Design Development.



The design evolves with details and materials. The developed forms become articulated and detailed design direction is developed. Sections are created to illustrate spacial relationships. Sometimes interior modeling is required to truly illustrate complex spaces. Reflected ceilings, electrical power and lighting are designed in this phase, along with Interior Fixed Finishes. The Structure is designed in concept along with the Mechanical layout with either the Engineer or Design/Build Subcontractor. Once the designs are completed and approved by the Owner, we proceed to Construction Documents.



These are the documents for permit and bidding. This is the incorporation of the design into a buildable document. The more complete the CD’s, the better the bids and the less chance for change orders. Our non-Owner generated change orders are less than one percent historically.



We include certain site visits to insure the home is being built within the intent of the Structural drawings. We pride ourselves in our working relationship with Contractors. The protocol in our office is, “If a Contractor calls with a question, stop what you are doing and help him find the answer. He is trying to build something!” One story we like to tell is how we have had a half a dozen framers tell us our drawings are the “best” from which they ever built. When a framer is not throwing his hammer at an Architect, we must be doing something right!