Sep 29, 201309:00 AMPoint of View


Analog Assets: Digital Age

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Leading institutions recognize that in a digital world, building is not always the answer. Using qualitative and quantitative research as an integral part of the design process yields spaces more aligned with organizational values and priorities. Spatial intelligence derived from a quantified investigation of current actual usage, user activities, and perceived user needs enable effective strategic planning. Ultimately, the “right space” trumps “more space.”

Of course, technology will continue to play a large part in facilities optimization. Concepts like Telehealth, the electronic communication of medical data between and among providers and patients, may seem like an IT issue, but has far-reaching facilities implications as well. Communication efficiencies provide opportunities to recoup physical space and re-imagine complex facilities design.


Flexible spaces enable a more diverse array of activities and provide a framework to accommodate rapidly changing needs over time. Re-configurable space design, modularity, and prefabrication are some of the hallmarks of agile building.

Stanford University’s world famous d.School is well known for advocating and developing “Design Thinking,” an iterative learning and development process focused on collaboration and rapid prototyping with user needs as the primary driver. The space inhabited by the d.School closely mirrors the organizational mission. Flexible spaces with movable components not only support the organizational mission but also allow for easy adaptation for evolving programs and spatial needs.


In a world of limited resources, facilities must consume less during the design / construction cycle as well as in operation phase. A detailed understanding of resource consumption is vital to genuinely sustainable design.

The bulk of energy and resources consumption occurs well before ground breaking on new construction. In addition to high efficiency systems and design, companies like Project Frog utilize parametric energy modeling and prefab manufacturing to eliminate waste on the front end of construction.

Often overlooked in the realm of sustainability is repurposing and reprogramming of existing structures. Ultimately, the greenest building may be the one you don’t have to build.

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