Duluth, Minn. – Obermiller Nelson Engineering’s (Obernel) Duluth office organized a free continuing education…
At Obermiller Nelson Engineering (Obernel), the projects we help design and construct are just a means to an end. We are constructors, designers, planners, strategic people, but in the end, we’re doing all this because we have a clear end in mind.
It’s all about the people – the ones who will work, learn, heal, live and play in the facilities we help create for minimum of 50 to 100 years.
FOR THE PEOPLE
We have a responsibility, not just to our customers, but also to the community at large and to all the building occupants who use or will use these facilities. We’re probably impacting tens of millions of people who will run through these facilities over each building’s life-cycle and we don’t take that lightly.
Think of, for example, the education market. We want to make sure we’re creating quality, engaging learning environments for the students. How about healthcare? Let’s focus on creating the right healing environments. No matter the market segment, every system has an impact – the ventilation, the lighting, daylight, material selection and the layout.
We focus on making sure everything we do is for right reason: to create healthy, safe, productive, engaging environments.
FOR THEIR HEALTH
We know that the environments we create can either have a positive or a negative impact on the people who are in these buildings. We’re seeing people with allergies and other asthmatic conditions reaching almost 20% of the general population.
When we design systems today, we must consider the very large minority of people who require much cleaner indoor air. If don’t provide it, think about the kids who will be sneezing instead of learning, professionals missing work because of health issues or nurses in hospitals catching infections – all this means that those people can’t be productive in their environment.
It’s so important that we value the health piece because our population has changed over time and although medicine has evolved and we can identify people with certain ailments, we still need to focus on providing high-quality, healthy environments.
FOR THEIR GOALS
We also need to remember that the people who are in these buildings are there to accomplish certain things. They have goals, dreams and aspirations just like we do. There’s a quote from Winston Churchill that sums up the point here: “We shape buildings; thereafter they shape us.” We’ve interpreted that as although buildings may be inanimate objects, they still have a big impact on the health and wellbeing of the people who are inside them.
The question is not what we build these buildings for, but for whom. We design and build for the purpose of leveraging human beings’ full potential. And if we don’t provide the best environment for the dollar we have available, then we haven’t done our job.
And because of this, we, as a company, think very differently. It’s not just about cost, it’s not just about speed, it’s about the impact buildings have on people. We want our customers to understand that our focus is on the people who use these facilities.
And since we focus on them with each of our projects, we make the right decisions. That’s important, because in a construction or design setting, the pace is fast and without this focus, it can be easy to forget why we’re doing what we’re doing.
FOR PRICE, QUALITY AND TIME
As we know, price, quality and time are the biggest factors in construction. The school of thought used to be that that you could only get two out of three. But today? The market has changed and so have our customers’ expectations.
To do a good job in today’s market, we strive to meet all three factors. We provide the highest quality facility, at the lowest price, as fast as we can. That’s our new standard, our new status quo.
We don’t cut corners – we believe that there is no shortcut to a job well done. If we were to cut corners to save money where it might not have a direct impact on people, that sacrifices quality.
FOR THEIR FUNCTION
The last piece comes to function versus form. People are inside buildings for a certain function. As project developers, engineers, designers, commissioning agents and even tax specialists, we focus on the function of a building, rather than on form.
Not that there’s anything wrong with beautifully designed buildings, because of course we also want it to look nice, but for us that comes secondary to function. We want to make sure that our buildings are designed in a way to be most efficient for function. Which just brings it back to us designing for the people who are in the buildings.