Understanding Facility Conditions and Occupancy

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

The initial College of Engineering facility assessments were successful and offered great insight into current building conditions and use. Teams also identified many opportunities for improvement in various buildings. We presented our findings during studio to receive feedback on the assessments and share opinions based on personal experiences in the facilities. This open dialogue between classmates led to even more discoveries –perhaps most notably that the Scott Laboratory lecture hall chairs are noisy nightmares for students and professors alike.


Students present their findings from the initial building assessments

By the conclusion of the presentations, we had compiled a laundry list of problems and needs, as well as an equally important inventory of positive qualities, to focus on as we move forward in the planning process. The following is a summary of some of the facts and significant findings for each building:

 Scott Lab

  • Modern and functional equipment with the exception of the squeaky chairs in the lecture halls
  • Each of the wings is physically and visually connected, but navigation can still be confusing


  • Complicated connections with adjacent buildings
  • Poor upkeep overall
  • MacQuigg’s basement could be a model for updating other basements in COE


  • Exterior of the building is in good shape
  • Issues with way-finding and interior circulation


  • Slated for demolition – and team agrees
  • No areas for casual gatherings or group work


  • Designed to be students’ “home away from home”
  • Questions of form over function
  • Built to inspire the imagination and create aesthetic appeal

 Caldwell Lab

  • Building located on “prime real estate”
  • Designed primarily for Electrical Engineering students in mind


  • Two identifiable parts – the original building and a newer addition
  • “Themed” academic floors to group programs and function together
  • Main entrance is not suited for the high volume of traffic in the area

Baker Systems

  • In need of furniture and equipment updates
  • Opportunities to improve flow between Baker and Dreese


  • Does not stand out as the College of Engineering “headquarters”
  • Main lobby space is a great asset


  • Main entrance has great potential for improvement
  • Very “average” appearance and layout 


  • Both have major issues with general wear and tear
  • Asbestos
  • Office spaces need to be updated


  • Facilities meet the Biomedical Engineering department’s needs now, but there is little room for growth
  • Building is located on west campus and can seem isolated

The web-based occupancy assessments are a great tool for evaluating how space is used

Since the initial assessments, teams have continued to collect data by conducting facility occupancy assessments. Each team is responsible for completing 24 occupancy assessments in their building over a period of 30 days. Using a unique web survey, team members are taking turns touring every floor of the COE buildings and logging how many people are in each room at that time. Once compiled this data will reveal trends in office, lab, and classroom use to help determine if changes need to be made in certain areas. Although the occupancy assessments can be tedious and time-consuming, the iPads have proved to be a critical and convenient tool in conducting this type of survey and have expedited the whole process. The pre-made web survey ensures that none of the assignable engineering space is left out of the assessments and allows comments to be made about a room when necessary. This has been a comprehensive way to gather both qualitative and quantitative data.

Additional data has been gathered over the past two weeks on circulation in the north academic core. We used the iPads to survey bicyclists outside COE buildings to understand how they enter, leave, and traverse campus and ask their opinions about the amount of bicycle parking and traffic. Each team also collected information on pedestrian flow using the GISPro route-capture feature on our iPads. This feature allowed real-time tracking of pedestrian routes throughout campus to identify areas of heavy traffic, understand where crosswalks are or are not being used, and pinpoint common origin-destination pairings.

This data will all be analyzed in the coming weeks to help our studio formulate goals not only for the College of Engineering facilities but also for the north academic core where these buildings are situated. The importance of the relationship between individual buildings and the surrounding public realm continues to be emphasized in our studio as we work to find the potential of the College of Engineering within the overall University Framework plan.

 Keep checking in with our Mobile Planning blog as we head into the data analysis phase, explore the fiscal realities of the college, and tour some of the recently renovated buildings around campus for applicable ideas.





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