Value Engineering: Combining Budget, Design and Clarity
“Value Engineering” is an often used, and poorly understood, term. There is a time in the life of every architectural project where design intention and budget need to meet.
Design is an informed response to a series of, sometimes conflicting, priorities. We have been trained to believe that a conceptual approach to design yields the most meaningful results by providing a framework for organizing these diverse design requirements.
While conceptually motivated design thinking is important at every stage, it actually serves its most critical function during the most mundane phase, Value Engineering.
What is Value Engineering?
Value Engineering is the process whereby we alter reconsider, modify or remove design elements in the service of reducing the budget for a given project.
Conceptual thinking underpins all design decisions for a project by providing a logical framework in which they can be understood together. This is true both for the initiation of schematic ideas, their integration in the design solution and, in many cases, their elimination from the scheme.
Each and every element has a certain necessity associated with it. As design evolves, it is common for some elements, formative ideas that were useful in the project conception, to remain, even if they are no longer particularly relevant. These are the perfect targets for Value Engineering. Removing or altering them actually supports the design, improves it, while at the same time saving money.
Importance of Streamlining the Design
Far from being a contradiction, streamlining the design saves money and, at the same time, improves the expression and the finished experience. Value Engineering is not a slash and burn race to the bottom, when contemplated correctly, it is one of the most important design opportunities.
Value engineering is a normal part of the design process. As we work to justify our architectural vision with the reality of a budget, we have an opportunity to make better design decisions, clarifying and improving the architecture while being responsible managers.
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