The 80/20 Rule of Cost Control

Did you realize that 80% of any project’s cost is determined in the first 20% of design? This necessitates having a thoughtful approach from the very beginning of a project. KITE Architects understands that labor and logistics have an outsized impact on cost. We consider the construction process and the sourcing of materials and systems early on in the design process because the resultant costs and schedule impact are key design constraints.

For our National Grid South Street substation project, we examined and explored assumptions about technical requirements to identify alternatives that could save time and money. For example, our client’s original intention was to build essentially a “brick box” and another architect or engineer would likely have done so. 

However, our exhaustive exploration and research revealed that a “brick box” was the worst option for construction and for a project sited next to a historical building. As a result of our investigative work to truly understand the needs of the project, we chose to use precast concrete panels instead of brick, providing time and cost savings to our client. 

In addition to the impact of costs, our clients expect us to understand the regulating authorities’ and the stakeholders’ needs, and to deliver logical, beautiful architecture that not only withstands public scrutiny, but it also wins design awards. KITE Architects thrives in meeting the unique challenge that complex urban utility projects pose in achieving these criteria. Our design for the South Street substation illustrates how a utility project can be elegant, functional, and safe. 

Looking at the image above, note the use of yellow to highlight areas where the people are and the subtle patterning on the precast concrete panels. These patterns are inspired by the interference patterns of electrical waves. They create shadows of varying intensities and look different depending on if it’s a cloudy or sunny day. 

The composition of this project required elements such as vents, louvers, and observation windows has been carefully controlled to create an elegant home for this vital piece of infrastructure. 

Urban utility projects must be safe, reliable, and low maintenance for owners and operators. Our design for the National Grid South Street substation meets those goals and goes beyond that. Instead of being a potential eyesore, this building adds visual value to the ongoing redevelopment and beautification of the waterfront renewal efforts.