Control Building Architectural Phases


BAW Architecture’s multidisciplinary, client-centric work process can be broken down into four distinct, sequential phases.

BAW knows the value of a well-defined work process system. Hard-earned insights have been gleaned over 25 years of designing control buildings and control rooms for manufacturing, refining and production operations for Fortune 100 companies around the globe. The four architectural phases are:

  • Pre-Design
  • Schematic Design
  • Construction Documentation
  • Construction Support Activities

Let’s examine each one in greater depth.




This is the first in the sequence of services BAW provides, and this phase sets the stage for the entire project. The goal is to understand your needs and priorities. Together we establish what is fit for purpose. This is neither a dictatorial process, nor do we ask, “What do you want?” then regurgitate that back to you. Rather, it is a dialogue, an educational process. When we meet you as a client we don’t come with preconceived notions about the optimum building for your purposes. But we can promise you that we can get you there, because it’s a journey. You have to have a passion for the process, not just have your eye on the eventual outcome.

Pre-design is about being perceptive, and we highly encourage a Charette facilitation. This is a component of pre-design wherein an intense, workshop-style meeting takes place—either on-site or at the BAW office in Denver—in which the BAW team seeks an open dialogue with you, to educate a small group of your key project personnel regarding the proposed project. The goal is to build design consensus and understanding among all involved. At the end of pre-design a consensus is reached among all stakeholders about the floor plan, scale, siting, and construction costs, among many other factors. In sum, it is a process of discover, revealing, and building consensus.


Schematic Design

This phase is best explained using the analogy of a huge, complicated table puzzle. Whether you start piecing it together from the outside edges and work your way in, or start from the middle and work your way outward, it’s a struggle. How do we get the most value and bang for the client’s buck? How do we reconcile corporate and/or national cultural considerations with construction practicalities to greatest effect? We know we are getting there when the pieces start to coalesce into parts of a picture. The building literally begins to answer its own questions, and we can sense it all coming together. The building suddenly seems to come alive and take on its own identity, as one-by-one problems are resolved. Then, as with a puzzle, toward the end it’s like, “Oh! That piece goes there.” Things go quickly, then the picture completely emerges. When the client sees it and says, “Yes!” that is a huge milestone. It’s a very gratifying moment.


Construction Documentation

The control room building design is in place: now comes the reality of creating a blueprint so that it can manifest. This is a very labor-intensive phase where the BAW team prepares the technical drawings, specs and dimensions for the building’s construction crew, and everything has to be exact or it won’t meet code requirements. We employ sophisticated computer software that almost makes the building seem alive. We run audits to double check that mechanical realities are not being compromised by design. A project of massive complexity such as a control building has special safety considerations that must be documented properly, to ensure that extremely demanding conditions—such as blast resistance—are met. It takes talent, skill and years of experience to do this correctly, because the computer software is worthless unless you know how a building comes together. There is no room for error. Control room construction is no place for the uninitiated.


Construction Support Activities

After the first three phases are finalized and we are approved for permitting, construction begins. Typically, contractors ask a lot of questions, and BAW is there to answer them, sometimes on-site and oftentimes remotely. Our role is to ensure that what we designed is being built in the field. To achieve that end we have weekly meetings with the construction leads, and we sign off on key milestones in the structural, mechanical and lighting phases of construction. The pride we take in the end product is reflected in our attention to detail—and lasting support—through this phase on the project and beyond.



Multidisciplinary Engineering

This isn’t a distinct phase per se, because it is layered throughout all other four phases. Multidisciplinary engineering is in essence the BAW team working in concert, day in and day out, in a synthesized approach to solving each challenge. For example, if a proposed daylighting glass type does not meet blast-resistant design requirements, it will be scrapped, moved, or somehow replaced. It’s like a symphony with many sections, and in order to achieve perfection each must work in concert with the other. BAW employs subject matter experts—each one a world-class authority in a particular area of expertise—to ensure that all aspects of your building are engineered to the most exacting of standards. It’s immensely challenging, and proportionately gratifying, to know we have the expertise to do it right.

Find out more about why BAW is the global leader in in control building architecture, or contact BAW Architecture to learn more about what our team can do for you.

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