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Phase 0: Needfinding Services

We combine ecological field science with anthropological-based design research to inform architecture. By grounding our design in solid science and observation, our designs are aimed to better fit into the environment where they sit and better serve the people who use our spaces.


We bring ecology and anthropology into the design process before schematic design even starts. We call this Phase 0 and set the design vision for a project through this work. Our additional phase, Phase 0, is what sets Hopkins Architecture’s process apart from that of more traditional architecture firms.  We use this phase to thoroughly study the needs of the people using the building and study the site ecology.  By taking the time to do this well, we set up the project for success later on.


We can do Phase 0 as part of any project. We can work with other architectural teams, informing their process for better design results. If you are interested in bringing us into your team, please contact us.


Employing the anthropological-based observation and research techniques developed to spur innovation in human-centered design, we study the people who will use and interact with our buildings.  This gives us a greater understanding of how to best design for the people using the spaces, improving liveability.

The ‘needfinding’ methods we developed at Ground Design Lab are not simply surveys, observation sessions, or interviews, but an intense combination that drive at the real needs of different users.  We want our designs to serve the people well, and this is only achieved by clearly understanding who will use the building.


By using scientific field surveys, we assess the ecological health and dynamics of the site.  Mapping and understanding the different elements like habitats, human impact, water flow, wildlife movement, and ecosystem services, we can drive a design that functions sustainably within and connects to its site.

We also want our projects to be leaders in environmental stewardship, and a good foundation of site-specific science is the best way to ensure our projects contribute to the place’s health.

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