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  • Cindi Knapton

What's in Your Pipeline?

My Game Dev buddy group is swapping pipeline stories. I thought a retrospective look at the workflow I used back in my days as an architect might be a fun compare-and-contrast.

If you’re comfortable, please share your Game Dev pipeline experience!

Here's a rough outline of the process that an architect would go through to design and administer the construction of a project.

Pitch/Design Competition

There are many ways to find out about a potential project. It can be a government posting, a public competition, a referral from a previous client, or even a newspaper article about a company's planned expansion. You may have a detail program of client requirements or it may be vague and undefined at this time.

The Scope of work may include:

  • Preliminary Plans

  • Site Visit

  • Preliminary 3-D renderings

  • Mood boards with sample finished and inspiration images

Contract Negotiation

Here's where you lay the process out for the client and make sure that the client understands what to expect from the process, and how they are expected to participate to ensure timely completion. You will enumerate:

  • Stages of the design and construction process

  • Expected timeline to completion

  • Communication methods -- meetings, meeting notes, client reading and approval of meeting notes, email, etc.

  • How the client will be included in the process including sign-offs

  • Number of revisions included in the base contract

  • State & Local Authority approval process

  • Potential issues: supply, local authorities, neighbor objections, etc.

  • Architectural Fees

  • Consultants required to complete the project and their expected fee range

  • Project Budget Range

Concept Design

Now you can get into the real work. It's possible that your pitch/competition work may be thrown out now that the real budget, schedule, process and client expectations have been locked into a design contract.

  • Concept Plans

  • Concept Model -- 3-D or physical sketch model

  • Mood Board with concept Finishes and Inspiration Images

  • Preliminary Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, & Plumbing concept validation -- yes this concept will generally work

  • Preliminary meeting with State & Local Governing Authorities to confirm restrictions, requirements, and approval timelines

  • If Construction is a negotiated rather than bid contract, you may be able to get preliminary budget confirmation at this point.

Design Development

After you have the client's approval on the Concept Design, you can further develop the design document package with additional details, coordination, & material selection. Deliverables might include:

  • Developed Plans

  • Preliminary design details for built-ins and custom made items

  • Preliminary items, materials, and methods specifications

  • Refined 3-D Model

  • Refined Mood Board

  • Consultant Systems documentation and confirmation of availability

  • Confirmation of all legal implications and approvals process requirements have been met

  • Refined construction cost bid from negotiated contractor

Construction Documentation

After the client has signed off on the Design Development package, then you can really into the work of documenting every single piece of the project. The document set may run to hundreds of sheets depending on the project scope. If this project is bid or negotiated, these documents will be issued as a legally binding attachment to the construction contract. It will also form the legally binding scope and documentation of record for state & local authority approval. Any errors or omissions will result in legal suits from the client and contractor against the architect.

  • Legally binding complete construction documentation

  • Final details for built-ins and custom made items

  • Final Specifications for all items, materials, and methods.

  • Complete and coordinated Consultant Documentation

  • Confirmation of all legal implications and approvals process requirements have been met

  • Delivery of document package to State & Local authorities for approval

  • Delivery of Document package to negotiated contractor, or to bidding contractors with architectural control over bidding process conformity.

  • All local approval forms complete


The best way to do this is to be on-site everyday watching everything being available to answer questions. There are always questions and coordination issues. Taking ideas from paper and translating them into 3-D IRL is full of challenges. I truly admire excellent contractors.

  • Monitor Construction Process

  • Negotiate design conflicts

  • Guide the client through this process including documenting any changes that occur when they see their project in 3-D.

  • Ensure the consultants are monitoring their specialty sub-contractors

  • Take meeting notes

  • Take site photos

  • Meet with State & Local authorities on site for their phase sign-off on the construction conformance

  • When Contractor believes the project is complete, go through the project and create a Punchlist of incomplete or damaged items.

  • Monitor Contractor completion of Punchlist items.


Support your client through this transition process. Over the first year, they will discover things that don't work, got broken, etc. Help them to get these things rectified. Create a move-in report to let the client know their concerns have been heard and addressed. Use this document to improve future client expectations and move-in experience.


There's no such thing as an ex-client. You will continue to be oncall for the life of the building. If they like you, you will get more work and referrals from them. And... it's very likely that they will want to make modification to the project at some point. So... keep checking in with them.... for the rest of your life.

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