MASTER PLAN PROCESS

The master plan starts with the preliminary design and goes beyond it to study the de­sign in a more detailed manner. If the preliminary design consists of only one alterna­tive, then the master plan proceeds to add more refinement and detail to it. If the pre­liminary design is made up of two or more alternative plans, then the master plan is based on the best alternative or combination of alternatives.

One of the first steps in preparing the master plan is to seek the clients’ feedback about the preliminary design. Typically, the clients will offer some reactions and opin­ions while the designer is presenting the preliminary design to them. If they don’t, the designer should ask for their thoughts after the presentation has been completed. The feedback at this point is a first impression and can help the designer to judge the gen­eral acceptance of the proposal. The designer should be able to assess where and how the clients generally agree or disagree with what was presented.

However, the designer should also give the clients some additional time to ab­sorb the preliminary design(s). The clients are apt to need time to think about impor­tant ideas or to make decisions about key aspects of the design. The designer should not expect the clients to make hasty judgments that both parties may regret later. The time required for this extended thought about the preliminary design may vary from several days to a week. On the other hand, it is best not to give clients too much more time than this because they may begin to forget many of the points that were made during the presentation.

To facilitate the process of getting feedback, the designer should leave an extra copy or two of the preliminary design(s) with the clients. Remember, never leave the original drawing with the clients; the designer should keep that in the office. The clients should be encouraged to study the drawings thoroughly and to write comments directly on the copies. After the clients have been given adequate time to comment on the preliminary designs, the designer should have a clear direction for proceeding with the master plan.

In addition to seeking the clients’ feedback, the designer should also take time alone to review the preliminary design. More often than not, the designer will identify certain areas of the preliminary design that need additional study. In some cases, the designer may discover some areas that simply do not work. These will have to be reworked. In other places, the design may work, but doesn’t yet “feel right” to the

designer. These areas may need some “massaging” and adjustment to improve their quality. And in still other places, the designer may find a better solution than was originally developed.

After receiving the clients’ feedback and reviewing the preliminary design(s), the designer can “return to the drawing board” to revise the design. As the designer revises the plan in preparation of the master plan, there may be three related and simultane­ous activities that take place: (1) redesign, (2) refinement, and (3) more detail. The following paragraphs describe how a preliminary plan for a pool area was revised in terms of the three master plan activities (Figure 12—76).

1. Redesign. First, the designer may have to change certain areas of the design so that a new solution is created. This is the most radical type of revision and often involves completely altering some forms and/or elements of the design (Figure 12—77). In this example, the shape of the pool and location of the pool house have been changed while still maintaining an overall axial design.

2. Refinement. Second, the designer may revise or improve certain areas of the design. This often involves selective repositioning and modifying of certain forms and/or elements of the design (Figure 12—78). In this example, the shape of the pavement, design of the steps, and organization of the plant materials have been refined in relation to the preliminary design.

3. More detail. And finally, the designer may study and show some areas or el­ements of the design in greater detail in comparison with the preliminary design (Figure 12—79). Here, the pavement pattern and plant materials are shown in greater detail than in the preliminary design.

It should be noted that the combination of refinement and more detail are the most typical activities if the designer was thorough during the preliminary design phase.

After the master plan has been completed along with other drawings, such as sec­tions and perspectives, the designer once again meets with the clients for a final presen­tation. During this presentation, the designer should review all the changes, refine­ments, and additions made to the design after the preliminary design presentation.

In many instances, this final presentation of the master plan is the end of the project for the designer. However, the designer should make it clear to the clients that there are many critical steps that must be undertaken before the master plan can be­come reality. The designer should offer (with proper compensation) to stay involved with the installation and implementation of the design so that the intended quality is fulfilled. Depending on the nature of the situation, this involvement may vary from occasional supervision or review of the implementation to direct and complete con­trol. Whatever the role the designer plays, some involvement is better than none.

Graphic Style and Content

The master plan is drawn in a more exact and controlled graphic manner in compar­ison with the preliminary design. This is most evident when the preliminary plan is drawn freehand in a loose graphic manner but less obvious if the preliminary drawing was drawn with CAD. All edges of structural elements (hardscape) such as the house walls, free-standing walls/fences, pavement, steps, pools, and so on are hand drafted or laid out with a computer CAD program to give them precision (Figure 12-80). It should be noted that some individuals prefer to draw a master plan freehand because of speed and the less mechanical style. This is perfectly acceptable if all structural lines are drawn precisely.

Plant materials and other natural elements (softscape) in the master plan can be drawn freehand or by means of CAD. For plant materials drawn freehand, it is best to first use a circle template to lightly draw the outlines of plant masses as well as the

individual plants within them (left side of Figure 12—81). When the light outlines or guidelines have been completed, the designer can go back over them with a pen or soft pencil to draw darker outlines around plant materials (right side of Figure 12—81). This technique gives plant materials a somewhat natural appearance in comparison with the structural elements in the drawing. Plant materials and other natural ele­ments should not be drafted in the master plan because this gives these elements a stiff, engineered look.

The master plan should graphically show essentially the same information as the preliminary plan that preceded it. The master plan should show the following to scale:

A. Property line and adjoining street

B. Outside walls of the house including doors and windows

C. Existing site elements or features that are to remain part of the design solu­tion (should be on the base sheet)

1. Utilities such as air conditioner, heat pump, gas meter, and telephone poles

2. Existing areas of pavement such as driveway and walks

3. Existing vegetation that is to remain

D. All elements of the design drawn and illustrated with the proper symbols and textures, including the following:

1. Pavement materials and patterns

2. Walls, fences, steps, and other structures; overhead structures may need to be shown on a separate drawing so they do not become confused with pavement, plant materials, and so on

3. Woody plant materials shown as individual elements (though still in masses) so exact quantity and location can be determined

4. Perennials, annuals, herbs, and so on, shown as generalized masses

5. Water fountains, pools, streams, and so on

6. Outdoor lighting locations

7. Rocks, boulders, and so on

8. Furniture, planter boxes, sculpture, and so on

In addition, the master plan should identify the following with notes and/or a legend on the drawing:

1. Major use areas such as outside entry foyer, living and entertaining area, ter­race, pool, lawn, and garden

2. Materials and patterns of pavement, walls, fences, overhead structures, and so on

3. Plant materials by quantity and scientific name (unless a separate planting plan is to be drawn)

4. Ground elevations defined with spot grades and/or contour lines

5. Heights of walls, fences, steps, benches, and so on

6. Other notes that help explain the design to the clients

7. North arrow and scale (graphic and written)

If the landscape designer anticipates that additional plan drawings of the design such as a planting plan, layout plan, and/or grading plan will also have to be com­pleted, then the master plan should be drawn so that copies can be used for bases of these additional drawings. To do this, the master plan is at first only partially com­pleted. The house, property lines, and all elements and edges of spaces that are com­mon to all these drawings should be drawn first (Figure 12—82). The title block infor­mation, north arrow, scale, and borders should also be completed at this time. However, no plant materials, textures, shadows, or labels should be drawn. Hard or digital copies of this partially completed master plan should be made before proceed­ing so they can be used for subsequent drawings.

After this has been accomplished, the master plan drawing can be completed by adding plant materials, textures, shadows, labels, and so on (Figure 12—83). The copies of the partially completed master plan can now be used as a base for any additional plan drawings (Figures 12—84 and 12—85). This procedure will save the time needed to redraw all the lines and symbols that are common to the master plan and additional drawings.