Strong Economy and Robust Construction in 2016 Drive Increased Cost Escalation

Market Outlook 2016 Q4

Published 2-22-2017

Construction prices increased an average of 6 percent in 2016, as energy and commodity prices remained at levels not seen since the 1990s, due in large part to the strength of the U.S. dollar. Five consecutive years of above-average cost escalation has driven the construction cost trendline to 3.3 percent. Price increases are attributed to robust construction activity allowing contractors to increase their margins as demand grows. The construction sector is also reaching full employment levels, which is expected to drive wage increases in the near to mid-term.

Reduced Construction Spending and Increased Costs Reflect Slowing Third Quarter

Market Outlook 2016 Q3

Published 11-9-2016

Non-residential construction spending has dropped 6 percent since the beginning of 2016. This reduction was offset by a nearly equal increase in infrastructure spending and steady residential construction. Increases in construction prices for 2016 are now trending towards 6 percent annually, depending on location, while job growth saw a slight up-tick with an average of 192,000 jobs added per month in the third quarter of 2016 versus the 171,000 jobs per month averaged in the first half of the year.

STEM Design Components That Pay Off

Metrics Show Benefits of New Science and Engineering at Trinity University

Published 10-26-2016

It can be hard to know whether a building initiative is meeting the mark by looking at anecdotal feedback about what worked and what didn’t. Pre- and post-occupancy data make it possible to evaluate the success of a design strategy. Studies indicate that the new Center for the Sciences & Innovation (CSI) at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, is attracting more students from all departments to the building, boosting integration between science and non-science majors, and increasing interest in STEM studies among incoming students at a rate of 50 percent.

Key Trends in Engineering Science Labs

Maker Spaces, Pairing Labs with Classrooms, and Managing Air Flow

Published 9-28-2016

Designers of undergraduate engineering learning environments must draw from a broad range of solutions to meet the specific pedagogical needs of each institution, beyond the traditional “wet” or “dry” designation of basic science teaching labs. In addition to designing for appropriate equipment scale, strategies include pairing labs and teaching space, providing a variety of maker or innovation spaces, building fewer two-story high-bay areas, and using scaled options for airflow and ventilation.

Stable Second Quarter Drives Continued Growth in Construction and Other Sectors

Market Outlook 2016 Q2

Published 8-17-2016

After a soft May, second quarter data indicates that job gains were stronger in June 2016, while economic activity has been expanding at a moderate rate. Overall job growth in the first two quarters of 2016 declined from an average of 245,000 per month to 172,000 per month. The slowing trend could be part of a cycle witnessed in previous expansions. Commodity prices appear to have stabilized at a reduced level, which increases room for inflation in construction and other sectors.

Major Trends in Research Facility Planning and Design

Computation and Collaboration Challenge Traditional Space Planning Methods

Published 1-6-2016

A remarkable evolution in the tools and methods of research is driving a host of trends in laboratory planning and design, including fewer permanently assigned offices, a decided prioritization of computational over “wet” space, and an emphasis on core facilities and shared equipment, according to a survey of research organizations and A/E/C firms conducted by Tradeline.

Benchmarks and Metrics for Five Basic STEM Lab Types

Teaching Labs, Advanced Labs, Multidisciplinary Labs, Interdisciplinary Labs, and Project Labs

Published 11-11-2015

The renewed emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education has forced colleges and universities to develop more project-based learning spaces, but critical details need to be addressed in order to maximize the success of the five basic lab types found in great STEM facilities, according to architects with EYP Architecture & Engineering.

Creating an Excel-Based Strategic Facilities Plan

Time-Consuming Documentation Yields Real-Time Information, Flexibility

Published 7-22-2015

While a traditional space planning document is often outdated as soon as it’s finished, Stanford University’s School of Medicine created its strategic facilities plan as a living document that in minutes can show the impact of even the slightest change in space usage, and can be constantly updated and changed. The medical school spent a year compiling faculty and space needs data into an Excel spreadsheet, and has found the effort well worth the payoffs.

Emerging Best Practices for New Animal Facilities

Maximizing Circulation Efficiency and Minimizing Contamination at UMass Medical School

Published 4-8-2015

A new animal facility at the University of Massachusetts Medical School features more efficient cage handling and cleaning, interstitial catwalks for maintenance, and a dual-corridor layout that minimizes contamination, all of which are best practices for decision-making and design, according to Jerry Silverman, director of the university’s Department of Animal Medicine, and laboratory/animal facility planner Josh Meyer. The Albert Sherman Center, the third such facility to be opened on the campus, contains several of these improvements over its predecessors.