There’s a New Design Trend on the Rise in the Industry, and You’ll Want to Know About It

Published: August 3, 2016

We’re all familiar with design/build and design/bid/build processes of securing commercial integration projects, but there’s a trend toward more fluid design methodologies.

These days it’s worth examination of methods such as Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). In a nutshell, these design processes bring consultants and contractors into the project lifecycle early, then ask them to work together to meet the customer’s criteria in the most cost-effective manner.

The different participants feed off one another’s strengths, creating win-win scenarios for everyone involved.

“There are several advantages to an IPD, CMAR or similar process,” explains Michael Shafer, director of consulting for JBA Consulting Engineers.

“The idea is to get the best work out of each player, because each feels he or she has a real influence on the finished product. Sub-contractors have a chance to provide a real-world perspective before the drawings are finalized. Earlier input can speed up the overall process, so these methods are often used on fast-track projects. Typically they’re cost effective as well, finishing at or below budget.”

PHOTOS: Saint Xavier University Campus

CMAR was recently applied at the new Saint Xavier University campus in Gilbert, Ariz. It was an unusually rapid and innovative project, completed in just 19 months from initial planning to opening. Let’s delve deeper into how that successful integration proceeded to get an example of how firms may benefit from bucking the traditional ways.

Flexible and Functional

Saint Xavier University, founded in Chicago in 1846, is a mid-sized Catholic university offering degrees in business, education, nursing, and liberal arts and sciences. About three years ago, they connected with the town of Gilbert and partnered to build a university campus downtown.

The decision sparked a reevaluation of teaching methods throughout Saint Xavier.

“We formed a task force, 100 percent faculty, and challenged them to dream the impossible,” says Dr. Chris Zakrzewski, assistant provost for Technology and Instructional Innovation. “What would they want in their classrooms, not in five or 10 years, but in 25 years?”

He says they understood that technology today turns over every five to seven years, “but the building itself has to last.” The group was familiar with a growing body of research that stresses the advantages of collaborative, socially interactive teaching methods, and so they pushed for the creation of learning studios, rather than traditional classrooms, on the new campus.

“On the other hand, we know that transformative processes take time,” says Zakrzewski. “We wanted pedagogically flexible spaces that would accommodate the early adopters on our faculty as well as traditional lecturers.”

Collaborative Technology Throughout

The new campus opened last fall with a single four-story building. It includes six general-purpose learning studios designed by Carrie Perrone, AIA, principal and project designer for architecture and engineering firm SmithGroupJJR and Nathaniel Holland, senior project consultant, Audiovisual, for JBA.

Each studio has shared, wall-mounted 65-to-75-inch displays and wall-to-wall whiteboards for multiple groups of students. Two of the studios have fixed tables for groups of up to seven students. Two have smaller, movable tables for groups of various sizes or to be set up for lecture/discussion formats. Two use tables of varying heights, which, when used for lectures, function like traditional tiered classrooms.

“Yet professors can still rearrange the room in minutes for collaborative projects,” Zakrzewski notes. Throughout the building is a gigabit wireless network, which gives students the ability to connect to each other and to the Internet with any device — laptops, tablets or smartphones.

“We’re no longer living in a plug-in world,” says Tim Johnson, senior project consultant, Telecom, for JBA who designed the network and server room for the new building. In addition, there is a server room and six smaller IT equipment rooms, all connected with a 10GB fiber- optic backbone, ensuring that the building will be ready as data speeds increase.

Also See: Why You Don’t Have to Start from Scratch When Designing Higher Ed Huddle Rooms

Also on the network are 70 Christie Brio presentation servers, which add wireless connectivity from the instructor and student systems to the various displays. The Brios provide a simple method for anyone with network access to send images and sound from any computer, phone or tablet wirelessly to any display or combination of displays.

The third floor includes a full hospital simulation laboratory for the nursing program, with an elaborate video recording and playback system used for debriefing. There’s also a learning studio for nursing, dubbed the Immersion Room.

At the front is a hospital bed with a patient manikin. A ceiling-mounted camera captures demonstrations and projects them on the monitors wall-mounted around the room.

On the first floor is the general assembly, a high-ceiling space ideal for student and community events. It includes a three-projector video system, which can show a 40-foot edgeless, blended image or two or three side-by-side images. 

The room itself has a flat floor but includes tiered, retractable seating in the back and movable tables and chairs in the front.

“We can seat anywhere from 50 to 230 people, or pull out all of the furniture for receptions or job fairs,” Zakrzewski says. “At Saint Xavier, it’s all about the students, not the instructors or the building,” says JBA’s Shafer. “The university is changing how teaching has been taking place for centuries.”

B2B Marketing Exchange
B2B Marketing Exchange East