Understanding the New AXP: Project Planning & Design

On June 29, the Intern Development Program (IDP) will be updated to reflect six broad areas of architectural practice—and renamed the Architectural Experience Program (AXP). To help you prepare for this change, we launched a monthly blog series that breaks down the tasks associated with each area. Plus, we offer real-world examples of opportunities that count toward the AXP.

What is Project Planning & Design?

Project Planning & Design occurs during the schematic design phase of a project, when you will begin to layout your building design, meet with your client, review applicable codes, and coordinate schematics with your consultants. You will gain experience reading and applying building codes and regulations; coordinating with mechanical and structural engineers, design specialists, and other consultants; and communicating the plan with the client.

Project Planning & Design Tasks (Required Hours: 1,080)

Upon finishing the AXP, you should be able to competently perform the following tasks:

  • Perform building code analysis
  • Develop sustainability goals based on existing environmental conditions
  • Prepare code analysis documentation
  • Define requirements for site survey based on established project scope
  • Select materials, finishes, and systems based on technical properties and aesthetic requirements
  • Determine design parameters for building engineering systems
  • Prepare design alternatives for client review
  • Present design ideas to client orally
  • Oversee design integration of building components and systems
  • Evaluate results of feasibility studies to determine project's technical viability
  • Review local, state and federal codes for changes that may impact design and construction
  • Prepare Cost of Work estimates
  • Determine impact of existing utilities infrastructure on site
  • Apply principles of historic preservation for projects involving building restoration or renovation
  • Understand implications of evolving sustainable design strategies and technologies
  • Design landscape elements for site
  • Develop mitigation options to address adverse site conditions

Are you having trouble gaining Project Planning & Design experience? Reference the above tasks when meeting with your supervisor, and make a plan to complete the AXP.

Real-World Examples

At one of the firms I worked at prior to licensure, we would typically put together a few pages on building codes and zoning regulations pertaining to a new project. These “cliff notes” became a vital reference during schematic design and beyond. If anyone ever had a question about the project, we could easily find them in this document. The time I spent preparing this document would qualify for the task “perform building code analysis.”

“Prepare cost of work estimates” can be difficult to gain right out of school. I started gaining experience by familiarizing myself with the materials and products we were planning to use on the project and talking to product/materials reps about costs and installation. This information was useful in determining what types of products meet the client’s budget and what needed to be adjusted. Sometimes, we would need to inform the client if we needed to set aside more money or change the scope of the project.

IDP Experience Calculator

Use the IDP Experience Calculator to see how your current hours will merge into the six new experience areas! Any hours that fall outside of the six new areas can be used to fulfill additional jurisdictional requirements.

About the Author

Martin Smith has 10 years of architectural design and construction management experience. He has worked for architectural firms in New York City and New Canaan, CT. His projects varied from single and multi-family residential projects to commercial and university buildings, with an expertise in adaptive re-use and historic preservation projects. Smith holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Syracuse University. He is licensed to practice architecture in the state of New York and holds the NCARB Certificate for national reciprocity.