BrickandMortar_Discovery Phase icon.png

Every step in the process begins with listening. Listening to understand the mission, vision, and values of our clients, and considering how the built form can reflect and amplify these core goals. The discovery phase encompasses information gathering and processing to approach site or building search and the design with applied knowledge.


This phase is an important first step to any future design and should begin when your project is still an idea. Create an intentional experience around the customers first encounter with the site, leading up to their interactions on the inside of the building, and their experience with your product or service. This process will provide you an understanding of the requirements and needs of your future space, so you can make an informed decision when choosing the building or site that is right for you. 


The discovery phase includes any or all of the following:


  • Programming: a schedule of exterior and interior building spaces, square footages, specific space needs and adjacencies


  • Feasibility: study of potential building, zoning, accessibility, and energy code requirements. Understanding of specific code labels of your business and what would trigger a change of use.


  • Concept drawings: diagrams, mapping, and sketches of space adjacencies and intentional customer experiences


This information will serve you in the search for the most suitable building or site, in negotiation of a lease or purchase agreement, in the pursuit of funding, and to prepare you for the design process.

BrickandMortar_Building Code Analysis2.p

Codes are constantly evolving and have changed drastically over the years.  Codes to consider include, though are not limited to: the building, energy, accessibility, and local zoning codes. The codes view existing and proposed buildings differently. Every situation is unique and has a myriad of variables. 

Brick and Mortar can assist you with an analysis, report, and recommendations for your specific situation. We can act as a liaison for you in discussions with the City of Duluth or other jurisdiction or agency.


  • Existing Buildings: analyze to understand required upgrades in life safety and accessibility. Whether the intention is prepare the building for future tenant build-outs or resale, this information can be a valuable tool for the building owner.


  • Proposed Use in Existing Building: conduct a study of an existing building to understand the code required upgrades for a specific potential use.  This tool can be valuable in the assessment of a potential lease or purchase.


  • Proposed Building: a study of the code implications of a building that does not yet exist. A valuable tool for consideration of a site for your future business.

[Download Discovery Phase and Code Analysis Services Summary]

BrickandMortar_Architecture Design icon2

Whether you are considering leasing a space to operate a business, buying a building, relocating or expanding your business, the next step after the Discovery Phase is Architectural Design.  


  • Schematic Design: design concept generation based on the information gathered and synthesized in the Discovery Phase. In Duluth, the City requests an introduction of the project in the form of a Pre-Application Meeting.

  • Design Development: further refinement of the building design and beginning to detail the specifics of the building. Develop the material palette. A good time to check back in with the budget.

  • Construction Documents: detailed drawings, schedules, specifications, final material and finish selections. Apply for construction permit.

  • Contractor Bid or Final Estimate: process of choosing a contractor through a competitive bid or negotiation with selected contractor on construction cost.

  • Construction Observation: incremental visits to the site to oversee construction. Review of shop drawings and material submittals.

[Download Commercial Building Renovation Process Guide]

BrickandMortar_Storefront Improvement Ic

The design of tenant storefronts, display windows, and signage supports the overall brand of a business and enhances the client experience. Brick and Mortar will help you develop a plan to improve the curb appeal and attract clientele to your business.


Tenant storefront improvement plans may include: 

  • Branding 

  • Lighting 

  • Signage 

  • Street interaction

  • Storefront visibility

  • Traffic flow / circulation

  • City of Duluth Zoning Requirements

[Check out Elements of Storefront Design]

BrickandMortar_Special event site planni

Are you adapting and changing your business in response to the pandemic? We'd like to offer our services to you at a reduced rate. Reach out to discuss your needs and request a proposal for services. Proposal will be determined by building size, complexity, and desired deliverable


Examples of Services:​

  • Create interior layouts of public or back of house spaces. Color coded uses, traffic flow, seating diagram, or other

  • Create site layout. Map traffic flow, curbside pick up protocols, outdoor seating, or other

  • Create coded maps or diagrams to communicate systems and protocols with employees or customers 

  • Consulting: code research, sketching, and brainstorming hourly

  • No existing backgrounds?  

    • We can produce them from your measurements

    • We can safely measure your space and draft plans in Revit 3D software


Have a plan, and want to discuss creative ways of executing it?

Have code concerns - egress, occupancy, toilet rooms, or other?

Want a professional graphic to share your protocols with employees or customers?

[Design Thinking Approach to Your Pandemic Preparedness Plan]