From the Editor

March 18, 2007
Enough Tech?

By Maureen Patterson

The design of technology into any commercial structure can pose a plethora of questions, among them: Will the spec you write today still be valid when the building is constructed in 2 years? What's the best use of technology for any project? Between codes, energy considerations, and demanding end-users, should you spec a ton of technology into a building to make everyone happy, or does the building really need that much?

The three main features in this issue offer some perspective. The first (First Up) details some of the issues involved with designing the first new building on the World Trade Center site. No pressure. Of course, they had to design in the latest security features - that was a given. But they went a step further and considered how technology might be used for artistic presentation and operating efficiencies. For example, with the later, they implemented a "destination dispatch" system that assigns users certain elevators based on destination. This not only saves energy, but it also makes for a much more pleasant experience. No more stopping on every floor, waiting eternally for the elevator to arrive at the correct destination.

At the Hixson-Lied Center for Clinical Excellence (High-Tech Healing), the design team tested some of the technology for a full year before implementing it into the new facility. End-users knew exactly what they were getting and how to use it, and designers knew exactly what to spec.

Finally, at the Iowa State University Environmental Health and Safety Services Building (Tech-Sizing), designers knew of the temptation to overuse technology in such a regulated space, but they didn't. Early on, they researched other facilities and the specific needs of this one. They realized that by using a sophisticated design technique, they could avoid using certain equipment and building technologies. They implemented just the right amount of technology for the need. It cut $1 million off the initial cost estimation, allowing more money for aesthetic niceties and other features.

How much technology should you include in a facility? As much as the building needs. Not too little. Not too much. Determining the correct amount may mean more time in the planning stages, but the end result will pay off.

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