This paper describes the overall goals of SEED, the approach taken by its developers to achieve these goals, and the subprojects that comprise the entire project. SEED aims at providing computational support forthe early design phase in all aspects that can benefit from such support. It addresses specifically architectural programming, schematic layout design, and the generation of a fully three-dimensional configuration ofphysical building components like structure and enclosure. These tasks are handled by three individual modules, SEED-Pro, SEED-Layout, and SEED-Config. A standards processor is under development tosupport standards and code checking in any module, as is an object database to store and retrieve different design versions, alternatives, and past designs that can be reused and adapted in different contexts(case-based design). Usability issues, especially the interfaces to the modules, receive special attention. Subsequent papers elaborate on these efforts in greater detail. The present paper provides an overview of theentire project and introduces shared concepts presumed known in subsequent papers.