Facilities Optimization as the Evolution of Programming // Dan Grudek
It has always been part of the architecture profession to optimize the client’s needs during the initial programming phase of design. Through new technology and insight there has been a shift in the ways that architects can aid the client not only in design but in facility optimization as well. These can range from specifically laying out each piece of furniture to managing the functions of an environment. With the new technology and knowledge available, facilities optimization is the evolution of programming.
Clients bring to architects problems of all sizes, involving programming solutions for the smallest piece of furniture to the largest structures. After being involved in every stage of design and often build, the architects often have the best idea of how a space can be used and optimized. It would be a waste to essentially hand over the keys to the client without educating them on how to modify their workflow, allowing them to take full advantage of their new space. Space planning is cyclical in continuously referencing proximities, lighting effects and the overall qualities of the space. All of these have a dramatic affect on the performance of the space not just on a daily basis but over a lifetime. The architect needs to be there to not only think of the current needs but also the potential growth of the client. Evaluation should never be based solely on energy savings, it should be about the workflow and the quality of occupying the space.
With most new projects being designed in 3D modeling software like AutoDesk Revit, there are facilities management programs that take the compiled models and help the manager control the efficiencies and controls of the building. This is where the architect can influence the optimization of the use of space. Through new soft wares, architects now have a much deeper understanding of how a building will perform before it is even constructed. The software not only analyzes how the spaces should be mapped, but the ways in which the natural lighting will change throughout the day.
In our studio we witnessed this influence on a smaller scale when half of our studio worked alongside the Girl Scouts Council of NE Kansas and NW Missouri during the fall semester. Our goal was to really take a deep look at what their current facilities had to offer. We gathered data ranging from conditions of the buildings to surveys of the girls, parents, and counselors in order to form a new direction for the council. While at first it just felt like large amounts of numbers and graphs it eventually formed into a programming effort for each of the camps.
Camp Sleeping Capacities
What we were doing had a strong impact on the council’s business model and how they approached each of their five camps. At each camp we evaluated it based on proximity and day to day activities offered. We compared our findings to case studies of how the girl scouts peers and competitors are operated and found there to be many differences. The Girl Scouts facilities were out of date, often with many cases of delayed maintenance, and the activities were minimal much of the time due to untrained volunteers. The Girl Scouts had an internal process on how they went about evaluations and maintenance, our impartial outside take, while sometimes harsh, was exactly what was needed to open their eyes to a brighter future for their camps. We affected their typical business model and gave it new life for them to reach new innovation in their future. At the end of our time with the Girl Scouts we informed them of new activities they could offer, what the identity of each camp could become, and ultimately the best way to grow while maintaining their strong historical culture.
Facilities optimization is a natural extension of an architect’s role. Much of the groundwork leading up to optimizing a facility has to be completed throughout the design process such as the space planning, the use analysis, and the qualities desired in a space. As our work with the Girl Scouts showed, this is a service that can be implemented at any time from the beginning of a new construction, to a remodel or redevelopment of an existing one. In offering a service such as the client obtains the best, most optimized, use of the space.
Written by Dan Grudek