Last edited 13 Sep 2016

Concept structural design of buildings

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Concept design is the first design stage. Feasibility studies and options appraisals that the consultant team or independent client advisers may have previously carried out do not involve 'design' as such. They are preliminary studies whose purpose is to establish whether the project is viable, to assist in the development of the project brief and to aid the identification of feasible options. The preferred option is then be developed into a concept design which is a response to the project brief. The project brief will continue to develop as the concept design is prepared, but is then frozen at the end of the concept design stage and change control procedures are introduced.

Concept design proposals from the structural engineer might include:

  • Preferred foundation design.
  • Frame system.
  • Structural grid with column sizes.
  • Primary and secondary beam sizes and spans.
  • Schedules of floor loadings catering for dead and live loads.
  • Special loads.
  • Horizontal and vertical expansion joints.
  • Major openings in floors and structural walls.
  • Wind bracing elements.
  • Typical edge details.
  • Fire protection to the structure.

Concept design is followed by 'detailed design' (sometimes called 'design development' or 'developed design') during which the design develops to describe all the main components of the building and how they fit together.

See also descriptions of the tasks performed during the concept design stage in the project plans available from the Designing Buildings Wiki home page.

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