Master Planning

Master planning focuses on existing space deficiencies, future requirements, development of broad policies and alternative strategies for improvement. Architectural space programming provides the detailed specifications for the design of all the individual spaces in the building. It makes specific assumptions regarding various preferred methods of operation, and defines specific space standards, design guidelines, and interrelationships.

Master Planning Calculation

Master planning compares space needs with space shortfalls and develops both short- and long-term strategies for upgrading or supplementing existing facilities. The process involves development of the court's space and operational needs, development of several options for addressing those needs including preliminary cost estimates, selection of one of the options for implementation and preparation of an implementation plan.

Example: Clerk's office
30 employees today / 70 employees in 20 years

1 employee = 200 square feet
70 employees x 200SF = ~14,000 NSF

The 200 square feet figure is used only for the purposes of the example. Actual square feet per staff will vary from state to state and type of court. The actual numbers used should be derived from an analysis of the use of space in the existing courthouse, the application of space standards recommended by architects or other consultants, and some broad assumptions about future operational policies affecting the work environment.

Similar assumptions are made for loading docks, holding areas, cafeterias, other building support function components, and grossing factors. Thus, an occupancy scenario for a potential building of a particular size could be developed and considered in light of various strategic issues--location, schedule, funding, and so on.

Static Growth Example

The 15- or 20-year plan to address gradual overcrowding and some operational obsolescence:

  • Renovate a single facility
  • Add a nearby office building

Large and/or Fast-growing Area

The 15- or 20-year plan for large or fast-growing area might include:

  • Renovate of an existing facility immediately
  • Develop a new stand-alone facility to be built on a new site
  • Develop a supporting office building, perhaps to be connected to the new courthouse within 10 or 15 years

The process by which a very large or rapidly growing jurisdiction resolves its space needs may be complex. Detailed planning should be performed over a period of years--as existing facilities are renovated and new ones are developed, more specific attention should be directed to other facilities down the line. But from an overall strategic planning standpoint, the basic road map for improvements should be developed before any major design activity and before the commitment of significant capital dollars.
By examining long-term needs and evaluating existing resources, facility reuse, renovation, and expansion can be considered in the context of overall strategic planning. As planning progresses, short- and long-term budgets, funding options, public referenda, and specific schedules for implementation can be planned accordingly.

Master Planning and Architectural Programming are sometimes combined in a continuous sequence by the same team. The early part of the process defines funding expectations and develops strategies. The latter part of the process develops the specific information necessary to design the courthouse. Regardless of how the pre-design planning is performed, sufficient time has to be allocated to ensure a thorough examination of needs. Frequently, jurisdictions define their broad needs and implementation plans in an early strategic plan and then build consensus and seek funding before proceeding with architectural space programming. When this is done, programming is frequently performed by the selected design team as an early component of the design process.