WCA, Inc.
P.O. Box 489
Ashfield, MA

413-628-4600 Fax:413-628-0117

Design Process

Designing a landscape is a process involving many layers and steps, both subtle and bold. WCA's rigorous design process is relevant to projects both large and small. Click on a box below to view details on a given phase.

    Phase 1: Initial diagnostic analysis and investigation

Investigate, through readily available data, the opportunities and constraints of a proposed project.

  • Identify and prioritize client goals and intentions.
  • Perform preliminary assessment of site.
  • Draft initial project goals and objectives.
  • Determine whether to continue the process (based on.?)
  • Organize project process and form design team.
  • Acquire site data through maps, photos, literature, regulatory requirements, walking the site with the client, etc
  • Identify critical priority issues and policies.
  • Confirm development program and strategies with client.
  • Articulate preliminary planning and design concepts.
  • Prepare preliminary design cost magnitudes and strategies

Research missing information, and summarize data into a form for use during the course of the project.

  • Contact utilities, town offices, etc. for information on buried utilities, legal and relevant regulatory information
  • Plan the inventory and assessment process.
  • Prepare base map or maps. A topographic survey is most often a separate and parallel task.
  • Perform physical area, site inventory, and analysis
  • Determine approval requirements and consequent strategies.

    Phase 2: Schematic planning and design concepts

Determine whether a particular concept is feasible based on the needs of the client or users and the most evident physical, economic, political, and legal constraints.

  • Refine the preliminary program and alternatives.
  • Establish design criteria and standards.
  • Prepare conceptual or schematic plan or plans.
  • Develop prototypical design studies.—what does this mean?
  • Draw schemes in section, elevation, and/or axonometric view—to help both client and designer see the plans from a third dimension.
  • Run the numbers—calculate square feet, cubic yards, areas of change, materials required, etc.
  • Refine cost estimates (based on above).
  • Test feasibility of important design elements. Assess pros and cons of each concept.
  • Test reaction of client (and contractors, engineers, permit authorities when advisable) to various concepts.
  • Seek preliminary approvals for preferred concept.


    Phase 3: Design Development Documents

Refine schematic plans into design development and construction documents, and obtain final approvals.

  • Prepare definitive site plans (building, and engineering plans by others).
  • Assess legal and community planning implications.
  • Perform sensitivity analysis of major assumptions.
  • Complete construction documents such as the following: Landscape plans, planting plans, layout or staking plans, earth work/grading and drainage plans, irrigation, lighting, and construction details.

    Phase 4: Preconstruction

Plan and organize the desired construction and management process to ensure maximum control of quality and cost.

  • Prepare preconstruction schedules.
  • Meet with potential bidders to review site and client needs and specifications
  • Solicit bids within a predetermined process.
  • Negotiate contracts with selected bidder(s).
  • Award contracts.

    Phase 5: Construction inspection services

The level of involvement and cost of construction oversight (??) can vary widely depending on a number of factors. A project manager or clerk of the works is needed to coordinate the work, particularly when a number of different contractors are needed to complete specific tasks.

  • Identify the existing elements of the site that will require protection, and ensure measures are taken to protect them (e.g., key trees, existing utilities, stone walls, etc.).
  • Supervise and coordinate the construction process, including scheduling, reporting, recording, inspecting, monitoring and controlling costs, and general administration.
  • Accept plans, approve completed work, and authorize payments to contractors.

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