The following are excerpts from an article recently submitted by Jennifer Mango, a senior interior designer at Tsoi Kobus & Associates in Cambridge, Mass.
A post occupancy evaluation (POE) is one of the best tools for assessing a design’s success, especially in measuring evidence-based outcomes as they are applied to design of healthcare and research facilities given their specialized operations. POEs are crucial in helping to measure theoretical design intent against a tangible result.
Tsoi/Kobus & Associates (TK&A) recently conducted a POE with Pfizer Center for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI), an entrepreneurial division of Pfizer based on open partnerships with academic medical institutions. The penthouse level of the TK&A-designed Boston’s Center for Life Science building was chosen to establish its global headquarters. This location was critical in order to establish close proximity with partnering Longwood medical area institutions.
The client’s project team members were veterans in the design and construction process. Pfizer CTI recognized an opportunity to try innovative approaches to planning and redefine its culture with the design of the new headquarters. The design team was challenged to develop a design that was budget conscious, flexible, and collaborative. After a little over a year, TK&A’s POE was conducted. Here are a few POE questions, and helpful answers:
Q: Is there adequate lab support space-including open alcoves in the lab, procedure rooms outside the lab and equipment corridor?
A: We can always use more storage. We prioritized lab benches and support functions over storage which we still feel was the right decision for our investment. However in a perfect world, if we had the luxury of a few feet added to the width of our footprint, we would have lined the corridor with storage closets.
Q: Does the building foster interaction among researchers, other departments?
A: Yes. We started with a strategic vision of an entirely collaborative environment, one drastically different from our current culture. The design team worked with us to make that vision a reality. Now having been in the space for quite some time, it has been a pleasure observing the success of that vision come to fruition.
In summary, the results from Post Occupancy Evaluations are insightful in gauging client satisfaction, the accuracy of our reasonable assumptions, and our own understanding of planning and design best practices. When evaluating our POEs from research and healthcare clients, they share common threads of focus:
- Space efficiency and planning for a more collaborative culture. Either in the lab or between a patient care team, it greatly enhances the occupant’s experience within is daily environment.
- Adjacencies and adoption of lean principals. Addressing occupant travel distances, through attention to redundancy and enhanced convenience. Patients/family, care teams, researchers alike benefit greatly from a decrease of time spent maneuvering through the interior environment.
- Adaptability, designing a space to address current needs and those of the unidentified future. A static design limits future needs. Implementing universal design principals and modular solutions have allowed spaces to grow as new needs are realized.
- Support, support, support. Understanding support areas within your program and their functional purpose. Time and time again, these spaces become compromised when decisions are being made and space assignments are prioritized. It is essential to not under size or forget these spaces. The most common criticized feedback from POEs stems from a decision to eliminate/reduce storage or support spaces that are at max capacity on day one.
Post Occupancy Evaluations substantiate our design successes and lessons learned from the assumptions made based on theoretical design drivers. As a designer, it’s rewarding to see a project move from planned assumptions to proven outcomes that then become a precedent for future projects.