The following are key tactical steps necessary for planning the details of a new informal learning space and working with a design team.
Programming and Predesign
- Establish clear design review procedures from the beginning of the project to ensure that the work of all consultants and design team members is thoroughly reviewed. These reviews take time and they should be shown in the overall project schedule.
- Careful review of early design team assumptions is critical because if they are questioned later in the design process, it may be too late or too expensive to change them. This is especially true of major design decisions such as structural and HVAC systems, plumbing stacks, vertical circulation, etc.
- It’s never too early to think about details that your design team may overlook. If the response is that they will be addressed later in the design process, be sure to follow up.
- Build in flexibility for future changes. Anticipate removing walls between smaller rooms, adding walls within larger rooms, and introducing entirely new uses to spaces. Some of these changes may even happen during construction or soon thereafter.
- If possible, leave some space unassigned to house the inevitable new use or overlooked program element, or for expansion of other spaces.
- Insist on more than the minimum space for infrastructure including spaces for mechanical systems, electrical switchgear, and data and audiovisual equipment. These spaces should be sized to allow for easy access on day one and for substantial future expansion.
Construction and After Opening
- Allow a generous budget for finishes and furniture since these elements withstand the brunt of everyday use. If low-quality finishes and furniture are used, they will soon need to be replaced and the overall atmosphere of the space will suffer.
- Watch for clues from users of the space that will enhance their functionality. Examples are the way that users circulate through a space (that may be a different route than the design team anticipated), or users moving furniture from one space to another.
- When construction is complete, the project is not over because a successful space will have continuous maintenance and upgrades to finishes, furniture and technology.