Future University – Edge Zones
February 5, 2013 – 6:47 pm | Comments Off on Future University – Edge Zones

I’ve been thinking a bit about the future of the university, and it seems to me that a new model may be emerging, one that has something of the traditional sanctuary of a place of learning, but that innovatively engages communities, both local and international. There will, of course, have to be those preserves where students and teachers can contemplate their experience and learn together, but there must also be what, for the moment, one might think of as an edge zone where interactions of many kinds might take place.

Read the full story »

Consider innovative approaches and successful examples of design thinking and practices. Complex design problems require careful thought, creative insight and meaningful solutions.


Find out how new technology is changing the way we work and learn. Hybrid spaces require new approaches and supports in order to successfully merge virtual and physical presence.


Discover how “Lean” ideas support an ongoing process focused on improving quality, eliminating waste, and adding value to a broad range of project types and scales.

Energy+ Design

Learn how to meet a clients cost and energy goals by matching the best set of building components. Get information on Energy+ Design and learn how the old rules no longer apply.


Download our NetWork white paper and learn how businesses are combining innovative design, management and technology to increase competitiveness and support their company’s productivity.

Home » Featured, Headline, Lean-Design

Lean Design – Library Renovation Focused on Client Value

Submitted by on February 14, 2011 – 5:18 pmOne Comment

Princeton Public Library

by Dan Anderson

On a recent review of a few of our completed projects and we were reflecting on how our lean design principles have impacted our work. One early project was a complete renovation of a historic library building whose success was due in large part to the use of lean design principles. This project engaged our lean design principles from project planning to completion of construction. On closer examination this project exemplifies how lean design principles effectively focus design services to deliver client value at each stage of a project.

Our lean design approach at the early planning and programming phase leveraged successful financial, historic, and programmatic outcomes for the project by resolving conflicting architectural goals, maximizing net program area, and increasing the overall habitable area in the building.  Our lean design methods at the project completion stage assisted with reorganizing the project team and completing the project when the selected building contractor defaulted.

Resolving conflicting architectural goals

The client felt an addition would be out of keeping with the scale and historic character of the existing library. Moreover, they could not afford to build and maintain an addition and still undertake necessary renovations to the existing structure. Funding sources wanted an addition to meet growth predictions and showcase their investment and initially declined funding. A solution was needed that fit the entire program within the existing building envelope and clearly demonstrated long term feasibility. The design team focused on a lean design solution that excavated basement bedrock to maximize program area and habitable area. This approach eliminated the need for an addition and met the client’s desired architectural goals but raised a technical challenge for controlling ground water and managing interior environmental control. We enlisted expert technical consultants at this early stage to supplement the knowledge base of the core team and ensured a feasible and cost effective solution.

Maximizing net program area

The program and space requirements defined by the library director and programming consultant were greater than the current net areas available in the existing building. The historic library structure originally housed the public school; two stories of classroom spaces were separated from the double height library space by a broad stair hall. Over time the library expanded into the classroom areas ineffectively and many smaller rooms (and the rear stair) were used for storage. Additionally, State funding requirements mandated space for a 20 year growth in the collection. The core team adopted a lean approach and reviewed the library collection requirements and re-allocated space to meet readership trends instead of population growth. An innovative interior reorganization plan accommodated most of the net program area within the available interior space.

Converting under-utilized space into habitable area

Previously uninhabitable basement area was redesigned for additional program use. The existing basement area had low unfinished ceilings, rubble foundation walls with obvious water infiltration, multiple support columns and substandard means of egress. A rough concrete floor had been poured directly over ledge below. It was used only for mechanical equipment and storage. Two of the biggest challenges to creating habitable space were the excavation of solid ledge and controlling water infiltration and interior moisture. A solid technical solution was developed that clearly defined the hand excavation of sub-surface ledge and created a second exterior building envelope with independent drainage and its own environmental control systems. This lean design solution not only ensured a durable and conditioned space but also allowed accurate cost predictions for funding approval.

Low bid contractor dissolves and fails to complete project.

As the project construction was nearing completion, the building contractor declared bankruptcy and defaulted on its contract. A member of the building committee (and grandson of original building patron) volunteered his company and was awarded the completion bond to finish the project. With the combined assistance of architect, clerk of the works, and prior project manager the work was continued with minimum disruption, negligible delay and avoided serious financial repercussions.

Lean Design Principles.

Core Team – A strong core team is a fundamental lean principle; from the project onset we worked closely with board of trustees, library director, building committee and town officials to successfully clarify and realize project goals. At the concluding stage of the project good communication and clear objectives enabled the project to continue despite the loss of the contractor.

Continuous Improvement – Continuous improvement is a key lean design component; throughout the design process each decision was focused on improvement; better building design, improved library services to its members, increased efficiency, and visual integrity.

Client Value – The resulting project successfully met diverse challenges with innovative solutions that were sustainable, cost effective, reduced waste and carefully aligned with need to maximize client value.

  • Amar

    I am keen on designing my workplace for about 10 people in the form of a library – to connote learning and knowledge innovation. Can you suggest some ideas?