The Three Schedules in Architecture //
Anna Groppoli


There are 3 schedules involved in a project and none of them are ever concrete. There is a printed schedule that anticipates allotted time for each task and milestone, a schedule that factors in setbacks as they happen, and a schedule that the team follows.  This last one changes daily. Though the schedule produced by myself, the schedule manager, is set in ink, it is not followed through step by step, in order, or on time. 


As the scheduler for the JOCO Pavilion team I have done my best to anticipate the amount of time needed to complete each task needed to complete this project. If everything went exactly as planned, this would be the “ideal schedule”. If each milestone was completed the day it was stated to be, if every task took exactly the amount of time it was given on the schedule, If there were no delivery delays, if no mockups needed to be made, if every material reacted the way it was anticipated, the project would have no need for contingencies and everything would commence in order. 


The client is informed of this Ideal Schedule and expects it to be followed to a “T”. As far as the client is concerned, everything does go as planned. It is only when a contingency causes a major setback that the team is obligated to inform the client. This schedule is called the “contingency schedule”. An example of necessarily informing a client would be something that drastically prohibits the continuation or production of a project , such as material delivery delays, contractor alterations, etc.  Minor setbacks or alteration of the order in which each task is completed is not shared with the client, it is only known by the design team. This is known as the “phantom schedule”.


The phantom schedule, the one the team is aware of and manipulates as needed. It is tentative and loosely follows the ideal schedule. Tasks that are laid out to be completed in numerical order (1,2,3,4) may actually be undertaken in any order (3,2,4,1). It depends on if the materials are available and ready, if other tasks necessary to complete the following are completed, if mockups need to be tested, if the team knows one task might not take as long of time as it was allotted but another tasks needs troubleshooting. All of these are causes for schedule change. Even though the project continues at a progressive state, it doesn’t follow the written schedule. The client is never to be informed of this phantom schedule for it would cause worry and anxiety.


In dealing with these three schedules, I have learned, it is best to design the ideal schedule to already include leeway time for each individual task rather than a lump sum of time at the end of the schedule for contingencies. This would cut back on major time setbacks that the client need be informed. It would also allow the team time for mockups, trial welds, and testing of materials. There will never be a schedule that can anticipate human error, setbacks, contingencies, and the like. And, though there are measures that can be taken for optimal productivity and product completion, no schedule will ever be set in stone.

Written by Anna Groppoli