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Efficiency // Max Taylor


Since the energy crisis’s in the 1970’s, our society has been concerned with energy efficiency. Since then, our economic output has more than tripled, while our energy demand has only increased 50%. There has been a push for architects to improve our buildings- by polluting less through construction and reducing energy costs during building operation.


William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle, writes a comparison between two buildings. One designed purely on minimizing destructive efforts and one designed to respond to the inhabitants’ welfare as well as following green practices. He cites his Herman Miller headquarters. The energy efficient building systems save about $50,000 a year, great, but what if a building could do more? In fact, the new office and factory improved its user’s morale and efficiency which led to a $50 million increase in production within a year of occupancy. McDonough advocates for smart spaces that subconsciously encourage its’ users to excel.


How does this relate to our unique real-world academic approach? By following his ideology, design+make sought to create places that people would actually want to use. We developed our own program and scrutinized it ten times over. The result? Spaces that give our clients exactly what they want and need, but in a thoughtful way that creates positive and pleasant environments to be in. Through our curiosity in the way the client will function in the space, we provided a design solution that will impact the organization further than being a space to work in.

We too recognize the need  for improving our workspace ourselves. At the beginning of the spring semester, the design+make studio was shuffled into two different projects. We spent a day reorganizing our studio to improve workflow within each team. Each team is now grouped together and allows each team member to easily get the attention of others. In the fall semester, project teams were constantly in flux as we switched from project to project. With the new organization this spring, the ease of communication has greatly improved. If I need to ask Jack a question about fasteners, all I have to do is wave my hand and have his attention. While it may seem insignificant, saving these thirty seconds countless times per day adds up.

Wood Shop

Metal Shop

Red - Cleaning

Yellow - Cutting

Green - Prepping

Blue - Welding

Purple -Grinding

Another challenge we have overcome is the organization of the shop, where we spend a good deal of time. Through cooperation of the faculty, we have free reign to arrange the shop to accommodate our process. The metalworking shop is a narrow room, originally used as a coal dump hundred years ago. After its’ time storing coal, it was used a storage room for materials. After a semi load of scrap was removed, it was converted into a metalworking shop. It’s layout was never planned- it slowly filled up as machines were slowly accumulated by the university. This challenged the two design+make teams to work together. After several rearrangements, we have developed a system to increase our effiency. With our new workflow, we have avoided potential clutter and future frustration.


Architecture is more than accommodating a list of rooms and required square footages. It is more than the list of programmatic requirements our clients provide. It is more than a list of tools that design+make relies upon. The organization of the space makes us more efficient. By considering the user in the space, it improves morale, teamwork, and makes work not seem so much like work.

Written by Max Taylor

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