How Early Design Guidance Could Have Saved an Architect Over $100,000 in Redesign Costs

The time and energy saved using early design guidance and implementing proactive and effective mitigation measures instead of experimenting with and paying for several failed options are invaluable to the design process.

The importance of early design guidance

Using an early design guidance tool not only saves time, but also contributes to the overall safety and sustainability of development projects. It also helps designers maintain the integrity of their design and avoid unexpected complications. Orbital Stack AI is a tool used by designers to do just that — eliminate surprises from their design schedules and reduce their overall risk.

With Orbital Stack AI, the entire design team can know what is coming in the project from the outset.

A Misunderstanding of the Impact of Urban Microclimate

An architecture firm with a luxury retail development in a major city in the Middle East was experiencing extreme wind. This negatively impacted the outdoor spaces around their development, and they were seeking a solution.

This retail space features a courtyard between multiple buildings that was developed for patios, shops, and outdoor amenities. Strong north easterly winds, accelerated by a recently built tower in the development made the outdoor space unusable. Restaurants were unable to open their patios and doors were difficult to open with high wind pressures, causing safety concerns. Countless service dollars and tenant safety are currently being lost due to unusable patio space.

The impact wind has on pedestrian level comfort and safety is a key component to understanding a development’s microclimate. When done early in the design phase, microclimate simulations, can identify potential issues before they become a problem.

Without design testing prior to building a new tower in an existing development, this developer paid the price. They face added time and expense to fix these issues after the fact in a multi-million-dollar development.

Attempting design mitigation

The developer had tried to implement less expensive mitigation options to reduce the impact of the wind on pedestrians. This included mitigations like adding trees in large pots and putting up glass walls. However, this offered limited results and created a visibility issue.

It became clear that recently built tower in the development was leading to adverse and dangerous wind effects. To counteract this, the developer worked with a wind engineering firm to begin to enclose parts of the open plaza. This led to more testing, costing upwards of $79,000 along with the costs of implementing the unexpected mitigation measures. This significantly compromised pedestrian comfort and safety, the budget, and the architect’s vision of a world class public space.

 A Different Project with Orbital Stack

Two people enjoying a patio after architect uses early design guidance to limit adverse wind effects.

Had the client understood earlier what the impact the new tower would have, they could have avoided these wind related issues.

Early design guidance from an AI CFD tool like Orbital Stack allows them to gain a full picture of the local climate. It also runs several design options to determine which would be the most effective. With proper early design planning, this developer could have run several versions of potential massing options. This would determine a plan that reduces the winds on the site, creating a plan to work with those winds. The tower could have been relocated to a more ideal location and the amount of time spent dealing with wind issues would have been greatly minimized.

This could have saved them time and costs associated to additional tests and mitigation work. Here is what a side-by-side comparison of the project budget looks like with the unexpected mitigation measures versus using early design guidance:

The developer is still working to fix the issues on a site nearly 13 years after breaking ground, and it looking to spend millions on an architectural canopy to mitigate the high winds. With the proper early design guidance, this timeline could have been reduced and made the overall outdoor experience of their project much better.

Ready to learn how Orbital Stack can help you reduce costs and safety risk? Reach out today.