No one plans to fail, they fail to plan.
The Master Plan is an essential tool when planning ahead and discussing the development of any property at any scale. Master Plans can be used to plan any sized parcel from intimate spaces measured in feet, to large broad reaching regional plans, covering large tracts of lands and geographic regions. The Master Plan sets a development direction and tone which is used to maintain consistency when the plan is implemented over an extended period of time. But how is this helpful for the average home owner or property developer? It is the road that gets you from start to completion, as efficiently as possible.
Master Planning is a process of both discovery and design. The first phase, discovery, is a two-step process and involves the client interview and the site assessment. As Landscape Architects, we interview clients to determine their needs, wants and desires, and establish the project program. The discovery process touches on those things that are tangible, such as I want a pool, pool house or building, and the intangible, such as I want an oasis, back yard retreat or sense of place. The second part of the discovery process is the site assessment. This is where we, as landscape architects, look at the land to determine its opportunities and constraints. We also look at the federal, state and local land-use regulations for any other pertinent requirements or regulations which might govern the project.
Having completed the discovery phase of the Master Planning process we then enter the second phase, design. The design phase, is a two-step process which includes the preliminary design and the final site master plan. During the preliminary design, we explore different design alternatives and solutions which satisfy the clients program. There are often two or three different ways to solve each design problem. The preliminary design will incorporate the clients program showing locations for structures, major site feature and other site elements. These preliminary designs are then presented to the client in a meeting or series of meetings. Out of these meetings we have a clear picture of where to take the final design. Once the preliminary design stage is completed and the plan has been presented, we prepare the final site master plan incorporating the decisions and designs from the preliminary phase. This will become the roadmap to the future and is what all further design work is based upon. Once prepared, the final site master plan, becomes an invaluable tool for setting the overall development direction, budgeting, phasing and planning.
Timing of your planning efforts is essential when master planning. On any scale project you certainly want to have your planning done before you ever put a shovel in the ground. No one wants to redo their efforts because of poor prior planning. On small scale projects, the winter months are a great time to plan for you improvements in the spring. The planning gets you excited about the upcoming spring and your project. On larger scale projects, the winter months are also a great time to get started with municipal approvals and building permits so when the spring breaks you can start construction right away. It is not an uncommon expectation to have 2-4 months of planning before you can actually start work.
Landscape Architects are the most qualified professionals to lead the Master Planning process. In the land development process Landscape Architects often work with architects, engineers, developers, environmental consultants, public agencies and other interested parties to develop a design which meets the clients program. Landscape Architects have the most experience in dealing with all the constituent players and parts of the development process creating an exemplary design while maintaining inherent respect for the land. Landscape Architects know that through knowledge of the land, the client program and using exemplary design through the master planning process we will always achieve in the best results for our clients.
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