The Ten F’s

The purpose of the architectural design process is to balance many diverse, and often conflicting, objectives. It is an ongoing creative process providing the means to deliver a vision. We have used this assessment technique successfully at many of are clients to come up with a quantification of the relative merits of different architectural constructs. This section introduces each of the F’s of architecture.


The key objective of architecture is planning for the future. Whether you are going for an open-ended system or a fixed-life product, knowing the character of the possible futures, and planning for the diverse scenarios is crucial to an effective architecture.


As with a the look of a building or web site, the architecture balances form and function to arrive at an aesthetically pleasing, realizable, and understandable form that meets the client’s objectives.


The needs of the client define the function of a system or complex. Whether you’re looking at systems analysis or needs analysis, function categories what a client can quantify in terms of needs or requirements.


To give something form, a framework is needed to build it. You may be talking about sound engineering principles to build a skyscraper, using generally accepted methodologies, or using structures like client/server. The framework also includes how the system will be built, managed, operated, and paid for.


The technological basis for the framework is the foundation. Without sound foundations, even the prettiest architectures have fallen into the sand.


In order to realize the architectural vision, the materials must be available and techniques must be viable.


When we talk about features in architecture, we involve the highest level capabilities of what’s being built. Is this an on-line system with book of record processing, a pipeline control system with measuring and monitoring devices, or an office building with movable internal walls.


Understanding how a building will evolve over time helps shape the overall architecture. Is your goal to produce a cube o’ granite or a line of automobiles. Balancing cost of initial development and production with cost of ongoing expansion is part of the architect’s job. As long-term expansion increases in importance, the requirement for flexibility increases.


As repeated stress is applied to a system, will it gradually fall apart? Like riding a bicycle on a street full of potholes, which components will survive and which will fail? How will the system be maintained and how costly will be the repairs.


Finally, the architecture must take into account catastrophes. What happens when the design reaches its breaking point. Does it fail in a massive disaster of epic proportions or gradually fade into obscurity.