Programming Matrix

Here is a blank Adjacency Matrix template for you to download and use: GDS Adjacency Matrix

Programming in architecture is the defining and analyzing of the problem that the client is attempting to solve for the projects’ goals.  The project goals and client objectives drive the information that needs to be addressed in order to solve the problem with the physical structure of the project.  In order to complete the design, a well defining program must be given to the architect in order to efficiently understand the aesthetics, space needs, adjacency requirements, organizing concepts, outdoor spaces, code implications, budget estimates, and schedule limitations.

Programming is typically an additional service and not in a standard contract. Therefore, it is up to the client to determine if the scope of work warrants hiring their architect to work with them on programming (which is recommended because it is a more efficient use of the client’s time), or if the client is able to complete it themselves.  Either way, as the client it is in the best interest of the project to have a well organized system to convey the goals and objectives to the architect.  A main tool in order to do so is the Programming Matrix, also called Adjacency Matrix.

Basically, the matrix is a grid to sort and organize the information and relationships of spaces to each other space.  The way it works is: you list the desired spaces/rooms that you need and want in your project.  Then you fill in the other information that is important to your project – such as size of spaces, if plumbing is needed in that space, do you need to have natural light in the space, etc. Finally, you describe the location of the spaces to other spaces.  For example, in a single-family home you would want to make sure that a pantry is close to the kitchen, so those spaces need to be listed as having “mandatory adjacency”.  In that same home you might not want the master bedroom near garage, so those spaces need to be listed as having “mandatory separation”.  Also, there may be some spaces that you would like to be near each other, but not necessarily immediately adjacent, so those spaces would be listed as having “secondary adjacency”.  In our example of the single family home, a mud room and laundry room would be convenient to be close, but not necessarily be directly adjacent.  Please keep in mind that adjacency and separation requirements can also be vertical spaces.  Space/room adjacency need to be considered from floor to floor as well.

Here is a sample matrix and floor plan that was completed for a small-scale, single story veterinary clinic (the client thought they could only have 3 exam rooms, however, with efficient space planning there are 5 exam rooms in a smaller, and therefore less expensive building.  The actual size of the building was 2,600 sq. ft.):

Blank Adjacency Matrix

Veterinary Floor Plan

The way to read/fill out the adjacency requirements is to find the two spaces you want to describe, follow along the diagonal to the box where the columns intersect, and that specific box contains the symbol to describe the relationship of those two spaces. In the example above the Staff Restroom and Treatment have a mandatory adjacency.  So, locate the Staff Restroom and Treatment on the horizontal and follow the Staff Restroom diagonal down until the meets the Treatment diagonal up, and that box has a solid dot.  Likewise the Treatment and Laundry have a secondary adjacency.  Follow the diagonal for Treatment down and follow the diagonal for Laundry up, and that box has an open dot.

Again click here for your own blank Adjacency Matrix template to download and use: GDS Adjacency Matrix

You are more than welcome to contact us regarding any questions you may have, clarifications regarding the programming matrix, or if you would like a one-on-one tutorial about using the matrix for your project –

Tips For Selecting An Architect

When selecting an architect it is important to evaluate not just the technical capabilities of the architect, but also the key factors of compatibility with the firm.  Keep in mind that a good architect will engage with the client and evaluate them as well.

All architects are different; so how can a client possibly know all it needs to know about potential relationship between them and the architect for a successful project? The answer: It cannot. There are some issues that are unavoidable until the project is underway and the problems have been presented.  However, a client can and should gain a basic knowledge of its architect before signing a contract.  What follows is a starting point when evaluating an architect for your project:

History. What is the architect’s background within the industry and do they have adequate knowledge to deliver the project? How many projects has the architect designed recently adhering to current building codes? Are there any peculiarities or specific issues facing the firm and their ability to handle the scope of the project?  Is the architect licensed in your jurisdiction or able to become licensed easily?

Industry Serviced. Does the architect design one particular type of building, a few specific sectors, or is willing to take any project that comes their way? Are the past projects of the architect comparable to the project and are knowledge and skills learned transferable?

Firm Stability. How much authority does your architect have in the industry, or connections to figures of authority in the industry? How secure is the architect and the company? How much trust and confidence do others have in the architect?

Experience. How often has your architect been involved personally in a design or building project? What were the results? How much or how little will the architect be involved with this particular project?

Answering Questions. Does the architect answer your questions in a direct and relevant manner? Or does the architect use a lot of technical and complex phrases to try to sound as though they are more knowledgeable and impressive?

Staff. What support does your architect have? Do you need a firm that is large and has a lot of resources (where blame can be passed and issues lost in the shuffle, but the project can be expedited), or would you prefer a personal touch from the architect and direct attention to the project?  How experienced and/or capable are the typical consultants in design and construction in general, and this project type in particular?

Available time. How much time can your architect devote to this project? How will the time be used?  When is the architect able to start?

Contracts. Does the architect use a direct and comprehensive contract that protects all parties?  What is the tone of the architect’s contract or procurement procedures? What authority, duties, and responsibilities are assigned to the client and to the architect by the terms of agreement? Are the contract terms and allocation of responsibilities equitable?

Other responsibilities. What other projects is the architect working on? Where does this project rank in order of importance to their firm?

Personality. After considering all of the above, give some thought to your architect’s character traits, interests, and preferences. Though you may not become friends during the project’s timeline, liking the architect and feeling comfortable with them is important to be able to keep perspective for the project’s duration.

Ultimately, both the client and the architect will need to be able to adapt to the needs of the project, but the topics discussed provide an evaluation guideline to allow the client to efficiently determine if a particular architect is worth selecting.