In architecture, floor plans or designs have always been crucial in mapping out how a structure is put together. Even in ancient Egypt, primitive drawings have been found to suggest that builders have been relying on floor plans for millennia.
In its simplest form, a floor plan is a map—a diagram, usually to scale, of the relationships between rooms, spaces and other physical features at one level of a structure. Most go into specifics of size and materials needed to help the contractor and architect communicate on paper.
Of course, board members and managers have to look at floor plans on a regular basis, often in the context of a resident’s alteration project, or a project affecting their building’s common areas. Without any training or experience, however, reading and understanding a floor plan isn’t easy. Architecturally-savvy observers will know what they are looking at, but if a board member or manager looks at a proposed floor plan, they might think they are looking at hieroglyphics.
When a condo or co-op decides it’s time for a renovation project, they hire an architect and talk about what they want done and how they can achieve their vision. The first drawing will be of the existing space, so everyone involved knows what they are working with.
“The first step in preparing a floor plan is to talk to the client and find out what their needs and desires are. It’s essential that the client has input and you want them to understand the process,” says Richard Metzner, an architect with Gandhi Engineering Inc. in Manhattan. “In your mind, you sketch out some alternatives to achieving what the client wants to do. Then you go back and sit with them and go over this idea or that idea and it’s like a succession of approximations. You get closer and closer to what they want to do, and when you feel you’re there, you draw them up into biddable drawings.”