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Two Ways – which will you choose?

There are always two ways to accomplish any task. Generally speaking either way can get the job done, but without a doubt one way will lead to success and the other way will lead to unexpected (or maybe expected) consequences. As a good friend of mine would say “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. My prediction is that the air conditioning unit may work – at least until it falls out of the window, which it will.

Sadly all too often we have clients that try to short cut the design process on their building projects.  They look for a quick fix. This inevitably leads to poor designs, unexpected cost over runs, construction schedules not completed on time and product performance that will not live up to expectations. In past ebits we have talked often about the value of planning before you do the detailed design/engineering documents and completing the design/engineering documents before you start building. These are great concepts that we stand firmly behind. But you can have the best planning, designing, and building only to find the systems/components of the project are flawed or are not right for your application.

So to help you not get caught in a quick fix you will need to take the time to have detailed documents completed. Without these documents the construction phase is guided only by guess work.

Good construction documents should…

  • …Communicate the design parameters and details to the contractor and the agencies. PDMi uses 3D modeling as a great tool to accomplish this.
  • Provide Constructible Details. Just because a detail can be drawn on paper (or for that matter, dreamed up in your mind) does not mean it can be constructed. The PDMi staff has spent many years alongside contractors to understand constructible details.
  • …Specify Material Selection. The right materials used in the right places will assure a project’s success.

We know that good Detailed Design documents will guide your project. Give us a call to talk about how PDMi can work with you on your next project.

If I just had a do over…

Who hasn’t heard of, or participated in a building project where someone at the end of the project has said:  “If I had it to do over again, I would change … “.  Often times that statement is a byproduct of poor Planning. The facility planning process is one of gathering, interpreting, and organizing the parameters of the project (site constraints, building codes, existing building architecture, available materials, budget, client‘s current and future needs, and client’s wish lists). After the parameters are defined and their functions understood they are ranked by priority. Then, and only then, should Planning start.

In many ways, the “Art of the Design” is the ability to digest and understand these parameters and develop a facility plan taking into consideration constructability, functional relationships, and pleasing aesthetics that respond fully to as many of the owners given parameters as possible.

After the planning process is complete, development of the facility design is undertaken. The success of the facility design encompasses more than just a functional floor plan and a good-looking facade. It must…

  • Treat the project as a whole composition and not as a group of parts & pieces.
  • Identify systems that are able to work together, and complement each other.
  • Understand that the purpose of the design is to “facilitate”, or support, the functions inside the structure.

In the end, what measures the success of a building design is the efficiency and experiences of the people who use the building. Give us a call, we would like to put the “Art of the Design” to work for you on your next project.

Peanut Butter & Jelly

Peanut Butter & Jelly – Hammer & Nails – Pen & Paper, these are all things that go together. They fit. One complements the other. It is the same with Design & Build, one completes the other. Too often today design and build are regarded as adversaries. They separately compete for the approval of the owner and/or the success of the project. This should not be! Just like Batman was not complete without Robin, the design of a project is not complete until it is built.

There are many benefits to the Owner when Design and Build are combined on a project. They include:

  • A Team Relationship is established between the Design Professional and the Contractor which is built on trust and confidence.
  • The Scope of the project is identified through the contract documents so that Cost and Schedule can be identified/verified/modified early in the process.
  • The Design Professional becomes a Valuable Resource to the Builder during the construction process as the Builder was to the Designer during the document phase.

The Old Days of adversarial relationships which were formed by Architects/Engineers drawing blueprints for the Contractor to competitively bid must be reevaluated. If we, as Professionals and Contractors, desire to bring the best product to our clients then we must learn that Design and Build fit together.

Contact me about how PDMi can be on the Design Build team for your next project.

Inside Out

As many of you have probably experienced with children, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, they get to the age where they want to be very independent. One way of showing independence is getting themselves dressed. Typically, this isn’t a problem, except when they come out of their room with clothes on inside-out. Even so, it’s a simple fix to get things back the right way. Not only have I seen this haste and confusion with my children and grandchildren, but I sometimes see it in business too. Some clients are hasty and want to design their facility from the outside-in, rather than from the inside-out. This too, can be a simple fix if it is caught early enough. Let me tell you what I mean…

We got a call several weeks ago about a proposed new manufacturing facility. This new facility would be producing an established product, but using new/emerging technology. With all of this in mind, the client knew that his new building had to be designed from the inside-out. We all agreed that the process is what brings value to him, and his building is there to protect and support that value. We found that the form and physical attributes of the building would be determined by balancing the flow of product through the building. So, while our client stayed focused on the product, we got focused on the process, and then the facility.

Here are three steps that you can use to design your next facility from the inside-out:

  • Develop the Process Flow Diagrams. A process flow diagram is one of the major pieces of your first design step. The diagram includes production rates/capacities and is generally arranged in the order or sequence of the process. The ultimate goal of the diagram is to “balance” the rate of production from beginning to end.
  • Equipment Layout. Based on the process flow diagram, the next step is to arrange the major pieces of production equipment in a plan taking into account needs for, utilities, service/maintenance access area, and paths or aisles through a facility for moving materials from one operation to another within the process.
  • Facility. The third step in the process is to wrap the equipment layout with a building/facility. You will identify any site constraints, column locations/bay sizes and code issues. Finally, add any support areas like offices, employee facilities, utility rooms, etc. to the equipment layout.

These steps will produce the criteria for your corporate decision making process. Designing from the inside-out offers the greatest opportunity of meeting your long and short term goals. Call me; I can help you design your next project from the inside-out. PDMi wants to be a part of your team!

…a Thousand Words!

Have you ever struggled to explain your vision to someone else?  Are there times when you know exactly what you want, but can’t seem to convey it accurately—particularly when it involves your building or renovation project?  3D virtual-modeling can be the true “picture that is worth a thousand words.”  Seeing your brainchild in 3D can turn a nebulous project plan into a visually conceivable reality.  3D virtual-modeling is perhaps the best tool we’ve ever run across for communicating both the scope and details of your vision to employees and your construction partners.

We recently had the opportunity to utilize this 3D virtual-modeling technology on behalf of a client that is adding on to his facility.  PDMi is in the process of designing and documenting a two story addition to a local retail store.  We began where all design starts—with the programming and schematics.  However, as the project started to take form, we found that the owner sometimes struggled to visualize the final product (space, details, relationships, etc.) from a 2D blueprint.  So we created a 3D virtual-model; the result enabled him to make informed and proactive decisions.  This owner was able to use the 3D virtual-model to streamline his building project in three distinct ways:

  • Communicate to his staff. The 3D virtual-model allowed his staff to make interior design decisions based on function and appearance. Beyond that, it helped the employees to visualize their project’s outcome.
  • Conflict Identification between building systems. Because of the 3D virtual-model, the designers were able to prevent conflicts between building system requirements before construction actually started. By proactively intervening to prevent many headaches, the Owner will save both time and money along the way.
  • Communicate to his Contractor. The owner was able to use cut-away sections from the 3D virtual-model as a powerful tool to help the contractor understand the building materials and details. This knowledge allowed the contractor to develop a complete budget and schedule prior to the completion of the construction documents.

While a 3D virtual-model seemed unnecessary to this owner at first glance, I know he would tell you it was well worth the effort.  Give me a call to see how we can use 3D virtual-modeling to create a picture that is worth a thousand words for your next project.