During this relatively stable period of economic growth, college/university enrollment has steadily increased.
As enrollment grows, new facilities are being added to campuses and existing facilities are being renovated. With this increase in facilities, it seems that each institution’s Facilities Department is being given increased responsibility with every new building (or building expansion).
It may even be true that the Departments are being asked to “do more with less”. With careful planning and vertically integrated representatives during the programming and design phases, the Facilities Departments appear to be “working smarter, not harder” … and are benefitting from their up-front investment of time.
Colleges / universities and their Facilities Departments are implementing the following strategies:
Strategy #1 – Clearly define the Project scope.
- Benefit A – Clearly defining the Project has typically prepared a smooth road toward gaining consensus on the Project.
- Benefit B – Architects and Engineers reading the institution’s “Request for Qualifications for Architectural / Engineering Services” need a clearly defined scope for the design (building type, use, size, volume, anticipated number of floors, etc.) and schedule for occupancy by the institution’s personnel. The clarity of the Project description will guide them toward their firm’s “Go / No Go” decision.
- Benefit C – Clarity of scope will enable the programming / design process to “kick off” quickly; the process will immediately have more momentum; and the process can accelerate more easily. All this enables the Project to remain “on schedule”.
- Benefit D – A Project that begins with a clear Project Definition has a greater chance to continue with clarity in all forms of communication. The converse is also true.
Strategy #2 – Include faculty / staff from the “user group” in the Selection Committee.
- Benefit A – This approach enables the Committee to make the wisest selection of its Prime Consultant … the one that is “best suited” to the Project (most experience in the building type, most excited about the prospects for design, etc.)
- Benefit B – This approach also enables the Facilities Department to recommend a Design Team based on input from broad spectrum of viewpoints and experience … which typically is more influential with the institution’s administration and Board of Trustees.
Strategy #3 – “Vertically Integrate” the institution’s representative team during programming & design.
Assumption: Representatives from Facilities Planning are typically on the institution’s design team. They hold the “institutional memory” that is invaluable for the design of any new campus building (or renovation).
Assumption: Representatives from the User Group must also serve on the institution’s design team. They must convey the various needs of their college / school / department / program, and they must actively review and approve the design.
- Benefit A – This approach ensures that representatives from the institution’s Facilities Maintenance Department are included in the design reviews. The Maintenance office many times is separate from the Planning / Design office in the Facilities Department. Maintenance personnel don’t need to attend all meetings, but they should take an active role during the Project’s design reviews (typically held at the conclusion of Schematic Design, Design Development, and Construction Documents phases).
These are just 3 of the numerous strategies that enable Facilities Departments to increase their building management capabilities without increasing their staff.
This in turn enables them to provide more / better service for equal funding … making it less likely that their institution will need to raise tuition … making their institution a better value for their students.
…and shouldn’t all decisions be made in regard to how they will benefit the students?