On Top of the Trends
Prairie Business Magazine — Construction Issue 2016/2017
By Kayla Prasek
When a developer envisions a new residential community or business park or a company starts planning for a new building, eventually an architect and an engineer will be brought on to the project to bring those visions to life. From designing the building itself to figuring out where plumbing and electrical wiring will go and planning the site the building will sit on, architects and engineers are part of each step of the process.
They’re also the people on the frontline of design trends. While some clients want the bare minimum for the lowest price possible, many want the details to be beautiful, comfortable or useful, depending on the building type. Many also want to incorporate the latest trends both in the interior and on the exterior.
Civil engineer Brian Pattengale leads site development and municipal efforts for Houston Engineering Inc. in Fargo. When a client has a building he or she wants built on a specific site, it’s Pattengale’s job to create a site layout that meets all the zoning codes. “It’s a very client-centric approach, but we’re always working within those regulating codes,” Pattengale says.
Commercial sites usually include a “big, square building and a truck dock on a functional site,” Pattengale says. Residential apartment sites “are sometimes more utilitarian, but others want more unique showpieces and go above and beyond on landscaping.” The same is true for residential subdivisions, Pattengale says. “More and more, clients are not wanting to do just the bare minimum. Some do just a little extra or put more planning in for the site to make it look a little nicer. Developers are realizing people want to live or work somewhere nicer.”
While site designs “tend to be a little more basic due to city zoning codes,” Pattengale says they can push the codes to meet what the developer wants as long as it still falls within the codes and Pattengale has seen some trends emerge. “We’re fitting more buildings onto smaller sites. More people are going with buried stormwater systems versus a stormwater pond, which can be ugly, so they’re burying their system and landscaping the resulting green space.”
Pattengale has also seen Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings become more popular. “It’s not new but it’s an expensive process, so you have to go into it saying you want to be LEED certified. We’ve done a few LEED projects recently.”
Overall, Pattengale doesn’t seek out trends to incorporate in site designs. “We’re very dependent on the clients and their wants and needs,” he says. “Our site designs run the gamut from utilitarian to image conscious, but those are the designs that have higher rent and tend to draw in more renters. Our driving force is an owner with a vision. We ask what they really want out of the building and sketch out their grandiose plan into something that is workable and fits their budget without compromising their vision too much.”
When it comes to the design of commercial buildings, more architects and building owners are incorporating glass into the designs, says Andy Bartsch, principal and director of electrical engineering for Obermiller Nelson Engineering in Fargo. “We’re seeing glass being used a lot more, so there’s a lot more natural light in these buildings.”
The increase of the use of glass affects the layout of electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in a building. “We have to make sure we’re designing lighting systems that work with all the natural light,” Bartsch says.
Energy-conscious lighting designs have also become more prevalent, Bartsch says. “The lighting industry has really focused on that. LED lights are becoming the main source of illumination in many buildings.”
Other trends Bartsch has started incorporating into designs include smaller lighting fixtures, more creative lighting fixtures and being able to better hide the less-attractive aspects of lighting.
Most states have energy codes that encourage energy efficiency, Bartsch says. “Some trends are driven by the codes but the industry is just evolving. We’re learning more about how people use the buildings we design and making them more conducive to using the space.”
Health Care Trends
As the health care industry has evolved, so have health care facilities. Stan Schimke, director of health care services for EAPC Architects Engineers in Bismarck, N.D., says the industry has focused on wellness and holistic care and patients are self-directing their own wellness. “They’re rede-signing the whole care model based on the collaborative care approach,” Schimke says. “They want their facilities to be more flexible to reutilize spaces if their needs change.”
Evidence-based design and LEED concepts have also become more popular. “They want to make their buildings as efficient and adaptable as possible,” Schimke says. With the evolution, traditional outpatient clinics are going away, Schimke says. “The focus is on collaborative care. Inpatient hospitals are removing ambulatory care and putting that aspect into more of a retail setting. They’re also focused on putting health care more where people live.”
Technology is also important when it comes to designing health care facilities, Schimke says. “We always plan for future changes in the infrastructure so health care organizations can stay on top of the latest trends. We try to make the design as adaptable and modular as possible. For example, a procedure room might be the size of two exam rooms so things can be adapted and moved as needed.”
See the Full article in the Construction Issue of Prairie Business Magazine