Schematic design is a focal point in thinking about a project. It is where all known client, site and context parameters meet in the arena of the architect's imagination. This is the phase of an architect's professional life that receives the most attention, by far, during school, and it is the phase during which the famous napkin sketch appears for its role as the first evidence of a governing formal idea.
If there is a muse, it is during this phase in which she appears. If a project is infused with passion and creativity and knowledge, then these things are present during the schematic design work. This is architecture at its most lyrical, poetic, joyful stage. This is the stage where great concepts are born.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed the entire form of his postage stamp icon "Fallingwater" in a two hour burst of schematic design, just prior to a client visit. I.M. Pei conceived the final triangular form of the National Gallery on a napkin during a flight from the Far East. I have spent thousands of hours of schematic design on a very wide variety of projects.
Schematic design is typically great fun. Architects of all levels of experience have equal access to their inspirational muse, but when that contact is informed by a career in the technical trenches solving difficult architectural problems, there is a great benefit for the client. I have twenty-five years of hard-won experience that gently leads my muse toward realistic, buildable-yet-inspirational architecture.