Innovation has become the lifeblood of corporate and institutional longevity. Whether a disruptive breakthrough or a line extension, more often than not it is the result of an idea that follows an obscure networked path before evolving into a viable new product or business model. Facilities have a huge impact on the pace and outcome of the innovation process. A variety of spaces, each tailored to foster a specific type of activity, is essential to the innovative workplace. “At the end of the day, innovation is all about providing the right spaces to enable people to use their creative brains in the best manner to come up with new ideas,” says John Campbell, president and lead workplace strategist at the architecture firm FCA. “The design must address the human behaviors that drive the process.”
When Johnson County Community College asked them in 2015 to establish a space planning program, Janelle Vogler and Robyn Albano wondered where to start. Now they advise the college’s top decision-makers to optimize building utilization on campus. In launching a space planning organization from scratch, they point to several lessons they learned along the way: It’s vital to assign a point person to lead the effort; you need a team whose members commit to the institution’s interests above any one department; a successful organization will establish transparent processes for requests and decisions; and don’t be afraid to start data collection with a simple spreadsheet.
University of Michigan transformed Weiser Hall—a 1960s brick tower with floor after floor of double-loaded, concrete block corridors—into a dynamic and flexible “center of centers” that brings together international and interdisciplinary institutes and centers so they can share space, services, and ideas. The provost’s charge was to renovate the building to create the “academic workplace of the future.” With the help of brightspot strategy and Diamond Schmitt architects, the team accomplished that mission with a seven-step formula that yielded impressive results, including an average overall productivity savings of 4.26 hours per person per week, the equivalent of every unit being able to grow its staff by 10 percent at no cost.
More and more, workers aren’t going to an office and sitting at the same desk Monday through Friday.
- Bringing Real-time Interactivity to Campus Master Planning
- Making an Old Science Building Relevant Again
- Scientific Workplace Promotes Collaboration and Innovation
- Massachusetts General Hospital’s New Methods and Metrics for Measuring Utilization of Research Space
- Merck’s New Research Buildings Respond to Disruptive Technology, Changing Social Norms
- Caltech’s New CAST Facility Simulates Testing Environments for Drones, Robots, and Satellites
- Five Key Design Elements of Successful STEM Facilities
- Novartis' Activity-Based Work Environments Have Broad Appeal
- Well Buildings for Occupant Well Being
- OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Offers Team Science Approach to Early Detection Research
Uptown Consortium is planning to build the $26 million CoMade innovation hub in Cincinnati.
The distinctive design characteristics of the tech workplace are spilling over into the scientific research environment. Elements like glass-walled open-plan offices and labs, activity-based spaces, and the embrace of WELL standards are all making an appearance in Merck & Co., Inc.’s new nine-story, multi-disciplinary discovery research facility, set to open in South San Francisco in 2019. Along with other yet-to-be determined innovations, these features likely will be incorporated in the $8 billion in U.S. capital projects the pharmaceutical giant announced it will invest in over the next five years.
Universities typically build or acquire new academic space sparingly, after long deliberation. When changing economic conditions dropped a whole campus into Lehigh University’s lap, the challenge has been to use that space in ways that support today’s education. Industrial giant Bethlehem Steel didn’t go formally bankrupt until 2001, but the writing was on the wall as early as 1987, when the company sold the majority of its “Mountaintop” research facility to Lehigh, which has since acquired two more buildings there, including Mountaintop C. That massive building’s three high bays attached to a curved bank of offices, is now home to student-driven projects in an environment that seeks to keep elements of the industrial feel and keep large bays as relatively rough, unfinished space.
While the term “strategic facility planning” is often used generically to refer to a variety of initiatives, it is actually a unique discipline with a distinct meaning, says Debora Hankinson, architect and director of Strategic Facility Planning at CRB Consulting. As an end product, a strategic facility plan (SFP) is the overarching document that sets the direction for all further planning activities, from master (or campus) planning to the tactical steps of capital projects planning, move management, and deferred maintenance planning.
The College of Engineering, one of 15 colleges and schools at Cornell University, has 21 percent of the undergraduate population, 32 percent of the graduate population, and 10 percent of the square footage of the campus. As part of the college master plan, Upson Hall, originally built in the 1950s, and one of the largest buildings on the engineering quad, was in line for modernization. The plan called for improving energy efficiency, providing student and faculty collaborative space, and creating wet, hybrid, nano-, bio-, and chemical engineering labs. Since the building is well-located and structurally sound, with good floor-to-floor heights for labs, the decision was to renovate the existing structure, rather than undertake new construction. The project, a complete gut and renovation of the 160,000-gsf building, scheduled in two approximately year-long phases, was completed in August 2017.