General Overview

Modern research shows that the physical work environment can often play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining personnel, which is why professional planners and designers expend so much effort trying to understand and resolve their clients' needs. A recently conducted survey of 200 corporate decision-makers for Productive Workplaces lists four major ways in which interior design impacts office productivity and efficiency. They are as follows:

Design methodology is a structured process that outlines the parameters of generally accepted sequences of tasks that occur from the point at which a designer or space planner begins to work on a project to the point at which the project is complete and occupied. Additionally, the client may formally request a review of certain or all aspects of the project's performance, and commission a post-occupancy evaluation (POE). Such

POE feedback (conducted primarily for large corporations and institutions), provides strategic planners with reliable data on building performance and essential insight on positive and negative attributes of the building (Figures 2.1a, 2.1b).

Ideally, the space planner is an integral and contributing component of the design team from the outset of the design process. A space planner's early input could greatly enhance the final design by achieving a more satisfactory work setting solution. Customarily, however, the space planner is brought in after completion of the building shell and asked to work within the constraints of an existing space, or in the case of new construction, a shell. In either case, a comprehensive assessment of the space's prevalent features is necessary—both for traits worth preserving (e.g. good view, plentiful daylight, high ceilings and windows), and traits that need addressing (e.g. poor acoustics, small cellular rooms, embedded services, ducts and cabling, lack of natural ventilation). In the course of conducting such an evaluation, the planner should exploit these strengths and weaknesses to create an integrated high-performance environment solution that enhances productivity and efficiency.

A well-designed work environment is one that is dynamic and can be modified to address new conditions and work habits in line with the organization's continuous development and growth (or decline). The ultimate design solution should not only take into account existing circumstances, operational strategies, and factors like building code requirements and fixed elements within the space, but should also address important issues like the impact of change and evolution on the organization's futuristic needs resulting from increased mobile computing, wireless data networks, the demise of awkward desktop PCs, and the electronic meeting place. A designed space ultimately fails its objective if it is responsive solely to the needs of today while ignoring those of tomorrow. Likewise, successful space planning solutions can best be achieved when client organizations educate themselves to realize the need for an infrastructure planned to accommodate fast-paced change.

Typically, when clients engage the services of a professional designer, they have already researched their spatial and other needs in some depth, and may even have preconceptions of what the solution should be, though lacking the ability to translate this into a planning solution. Inexperienced clients often underestimate the complexity and analytical nature of the planning process, particularly where large projects are concerned. Furthermore, they may not be sufficiently aware of the need for new approaches and new solutions dictated by new technologies.

Despite variations in techniques and terminology, and despite the fundamental impact that new technologies have had on our perception of the modern workplace and how we communicate and process information, the design methodology process has remained intact, consisting essentially of seven sequential steps. These are:

1. Programming

2. Schematic design

3. Design development

4. Construction documents

5. Bidding (tendering) of construction documents.

6. Execution/supervision of project.

7. Post-occupancy evaluation.


One of the first tasks in the design methodology sequence is invariably programming. Note that while many contracts do not include programming as part of basic services, the AIA/ASID Standard Form of Agreement for Interior Design Services does. Writing a brief or program,

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