Independent firms that are growing


April 08, 1991|By Edward Gunts

The companies most in need of space planners, professionals say, are small- to medium-size firms with no in-house space planning or facilities management capabilities and no national support. These are generally firms that occupy between 5,000 and 25,000 square feet of space and might have left the job to the office manager. But because of growth, acquisition of a new computer system or other changes, they now find that isn't good enough.

Once hired, the space planner typically starts out by assessing the company's space needs and developing a "program" that will guide the design. That program may be determined by consulting with senior company officials, interviewing other employees or distributing a questionnaire. Such information-gathering can help reveal the "corporate culture" of the company, including the office politics.

From the information they gather, planners can determine how much space various employees need, which departments must be close to each other, who needs an office vs. a partially partitioned workstation and other specifics. From these requirements, they develop floor plans, furniture specifications and other drawings that address the client's needs. Besides rearranging furniture, planners most likely will develop drawings that show how the space is to be reconfigured, including changes in walls, doors and mechanical systems.

Once a plan is agreed upon, construction documents are developed and put out to bid. Companies can either coordinate that work themselves or let the space planner handle that part of the project. Work may take anywhere from three to six months or more, depending on the project's scope and the time required for ordering certain items.

No matter the size of the project, space planners say, it will go more smoothly if clients keep in mind a few basic do's and don'ts:

* Do set up a complete decision-making structure and delegate people to oversee the project. Ideally, there should be one person who is the primary contact and through whom all information flows. If you establish a committee to work with the space planner, then make sure all of the committee members are able to meet at the same time so there won't be any communication gaps.

* Don't be secretive. Let all employees who will be affected know about the planning process so they don't inadvertently sabotage it.

* Do plan ahead as far as possible and be clear about what your objectives are. The more specific a tenant is about what he or she wants, planners say, the more specific the design firm can be about what they can do and at what price.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.