Full Circle Newsletter
An e-Newsletter for the Clients and Friends of C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A.

April 2005


Kissimmee City Hall
Kissimmee City Hall

Public Facility Design
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

(Editor's note: Public projects are defined here as inclusive of local government administration/operations centers and city halls; recreational and leisure facilities such as convention centers as well as sports, arts and cultural venues; and public safety facilities including police, fire and emergency operations centers.)

The process for designing public projects today starts with identifying and fine-tuning the client's needs, often through programming, space needs analysis, workshops, master planning and other pre-design services, and continues with detailed design services, followed by construction administration.

Citrus Bowl Expansion
Citrus Bowl Expansion

The design of public facilities has evolved in recent years in response to the changing needs of the clients. Some of these changes involve fresh features such as the incorporation of emerging technologies. Others represent increased emphasis on certain design aspects such as security and sustainability.

The following is an overview of some areas of relatively vigorous change we have noted in the course of our service to our public sector clients:

Partnerships and/or Joint Use - With local governments needing to serve larger populations with fewer dollars, there is a noticeable trend toward the development of public facilities with public or private partners. As a result, public clients now tend to explore the joint use potential of upcoming projects at the onset, particularly when it comes to administrative and recreational centers. Multipurpose areas are common design features in public facilities today.

For public safety projects, there is increased emphasis on combining police, fire and emergency dispatch operations a single large complex. This allows optimum coordination among all of the departments and eliminates facility redundancy - and the related costs - in areas such as training rooms, cafeterias, meeting rooms, etc.

In terms of client service, the clients and related stakeholders have become "bigger" in terms of number not size, making consensus-building a much more dynamic process.

Security - The terrorist attacks of 9/11, and now earlier this month in London, as well as natural disasters as hurricanes have made public entities much more mindful of the security implications of facility designs. Today, public safety complexes and city halls tend to be fortified to higher standards and codes, demand more stringent control over access and movement within the facilities, and place increasing emphasis on systems redundancy that would allow self-sufficient operations in hostile circumstances.
Orlando Operations Center
Orlando Operations Center
Orlando Operations Center
Technology - Computers, other electronic devices and mobile technology have become a part of the fabric of our lives. So, too, e-government has become the norm. Nearly every local government has a web presence that not only informs, but services the members of the community. While this alleviates the traffic-related facility requirements of city halls and administrative centers, it also puts a premium on flexible designs that will allow for the expansion of server as well as user systems in the future.

Sustainability - There is a clear and growing emphasis on designing public buildings as "green" as possible. The intent is to minimize a building's impact on the natural environment while providing for the health and comfort of its occupants. As a result, certification and expertise in LEED has become a valuable asset for architects who are being challenged more than ever before to achieve the highest practical levels of energy efficiency, water conservation and use of recycled materials.

US Green Building Council

The U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System has been adopted by dozens of state, local, and federal agencies. To-date, these groups alone have registered almost 750 new construction projects, totaling over 83 million square feet, according to the AIA.

Place Making - There was a time when city halls stood apart from their communities, emblems of authority sculpted in sterility that were to be respected, mostly from a distance. Today, in almost the same breath that public clients ask for security and aesthetic features in their building-to-be, they also ask for it to be people-friendly and inviting.

Public clients want facilities that promote vibrant public events and situations, and reinforce/revitalize surrounding downtown areas. Civic plazas and squares where people can experience being part of a distinct community are extremely important to the majority of local leaders and public servants today.

All images and articles copyright © 2008 C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A.

C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A.
820 Irma Avenue • Orlando, FL 32803 • 407 423 0098 • Fax 407 423 4793

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