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lation; however, the new units don’t include accommodation for
cylinders. A solution is forthcoming to add piping and an adjacent
cylinder storage room; but because this discovery occurred during
construction and not the design phase, the project will suffer overages of time and cost associated with design of a new piping system,
review of the design by authorities having jurisdiction, acquisition
of materials, rework of new construction to accommodate the storage room and installation of the new piping system. This situation
may have been avoided if on-site verification were included in the
Of course, not all existing conditions are observable or verifiable. The built environment is frequently inaccessible. Experienced
design professionals can make informed inferences as to the most
likely conditions that exist based upon best-practice standards;
but a more effective manner of discovery is to include an oft times
overlooked resource of the on-site facility manager. Because the
manager has day-to-day interaction with the facility, they know
the building better than anyone and are able to advise the design
team with the most current
For example, while mak-
ing a pre-design facility site
tour, the project team iden-
tified a previously renovat-
ed multi-unit toilet room.
While this room was an ex-
isting condition, it appeared
to be in new condition. The
project team didn’t see the
need to modify the space
since it was in excellent
condition. However, the
facilities manager explained
the plumbing invariably
backed up so often, people
just stopped using the toilet
room. Thus, it looked like
new. So, despite the misleading appearance, the toilet room required
renovation, an issue that would’ve been overlooked without the
facility manager’s input.
The design is only as good as the information garnered. The right
information can save time, trouble and cost.
HVAC SYSTEM UPGRADES
The third challenge affecting lab renovation projects is how to
contend with the existing mechanical systems. Whether they are a
full replacement or just a retrofit, mechanical systems make up a
significant portion of the project budget. Compromises are a given,
but approaching the challenge with innovation invites success.
Compromise affecting the physical plant comes in many forms
and is a constant balancing act to select the best approach for the
project. For example, when something is shared, the potential need
for an HVAC upgrade is cut in half.
To illustrate, BU 1 and BU 2 each require a separate, standalone
lab equipped similarly; specifically, each lab has a large autoclave. BU
1 uses their large autoclave weekly, and BU 2 uses theirs bi-weekly. A
suggested compromise is to remove the large autoclave from each lab
properly and provide adjacent, shared access to a single large autoclave unit. The second autoclave is sold.
By making this minor revision, each BU lab can reduce usable
area by 100 sf which, in turn, will reduce the designed HVAC load.
Examining the facility and understanding
the occupants’ needs is an important
step to completing a successful project.
Many times design professionals can
make informed conclusions, but it’s also
important to bring in someone closer to
the facility like an on-site facility manager
who knows the building and its unique
layout and functions.