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57 Great Ideas: Proven architectural design innovations you can implement right now!

57 Great Ideas: Proven architectural design innovations you can implement right now!

Proven innovations you can implement right now!

By by Staff | August 11, 2010
This article first appeared in the 200401 issue of BD+C.

1 Two-for-one financial security

Philips CSI, a European maker of security cameras, needed a state-of-the-art high-tech facility in the U.S. but didn't want to own it. Greenfield Architects, Ltd., Lancaster, Pa., designed a bifurcated facility — one part office, one part manufacturing — connected by an enclosed walkway; then High Real Estate Group, which owns the architectural firm, leased the building to Philips/Bosch. If the tenant ever opts out, the glassed-in passageway can be demolished and the two structures can be rented or sold separately.

2 Squeeze job

St. Peter's Medical Center, New Brunswick, N.J., had no room to build an ambulatory surgery center: the only space available was a much-used lot in an area already short on parking. The solution: Build the surgicenter on top of a new three-story parking structure. Parking consultant Desman Associates, New York, N.Y., used structural precast for the whole job, saving three months on the construction schedule, and long-span 15-foot-wide "mega-tees" from High Concrete Structures, Denver, Pa., to jam in the most parking spaces.;

3 Roofing: Best of both worlds

"Deck-Frame" enables contractors to build pre-engineered metal buildings specifically designed to handle membrane roof construction, according to co-developers VP Buildings Inc., Memphis, and Firestone Building Products. The frame allows contractors to use a roofing solution that provides the strength of steel with the look and functionality of conventional roofing materials. Previously, most pre-engineered metal buildings required metal roofs.

4 Turning medical waste into energy

Anshen+Allen, the San Francisco healthcare design firm, has formed a subsidiary (with Intellergy) to turn hospital waste — which, in most states, cannot be burned — into nonpolluting energy. The Medergy process takes binfuls of medical waste, loads the contaminated material robotically into kilns, steam sterilizes it, and reforms the medical waste into hydrogen-rich syngas. The syngas is cleaned, combined with steam, and fed into a high-temperature fuel cell. An unusual sideline for an architectural firm, but Anshen + Allen saw that their hospital clients needed this technology.

5 Brand your client's furniture

To give that truly individual look to your client's office, slap the client's logo, brand image, or mission statement right on the firm's work chairs. You can do it with Håg IndiPrint. Merely send a CD with the image you want to print on the chairs to Oslo-based Håg's U.S. subsidiary in Greensboro, N.C., and they'll do the rest. PepsiCo was an early adopter. Do it fast before this shows up on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

6 Online wage listing for Federal work

The Labor Department puts wage determinations for Federal construction jobs online, saving time and effort for many builders and owners.

7 Use modeling to save energy

Faruq Ahmed, P.E., of Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates, Pittsburgh, was able to eliminate use of a 250,000-cfm ventilation system and replace it with a variable air volume system at much lower cost for a lab building at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y. Energy modeling showed that peak discomfort in the lab's huge atrium would only occur during 130 hours over the course of a year — not worth the price of an expensive conventional system to ventilate the whole atrium. Ahmed recommends hiring experienced energy-modeling consultants for this kind of work. His choice: the Guelph, Ont., firm of Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin (RWDI).

8 Up close and personal

Those ferocious Panther fans at the University of Pittsburgh have something new to roar about: courtside suites that put fat-cat suiteholders right in the action behind the basketball team. The "Cathedral of Learning" boasts that no other college hoop facility in the nation has courtside suites like these. Atlanta-based Rosser International's George Bushey came up with the intimidating seating configuration and can claim some credit for 15th-ranked Pitt's 16-0 start.;


9 Turning $200K into $1.3 million

In constructing a 268,000-sf distribution center for a client, Krusinski Construction Co., Oak Brook, Ill., recommended adding features that would allow the owner to convert the single-tenant warehouse structure to accommodate multiple users in the future. The $200,000 investment added 15%, or $1.3 million, to the value of the $8.7 million facility, according to founder Joseph Krusinski. Add-ons included: front-door visibility and access for future tenants; placement of utility rooms where all tenants would have access; drive-in doors at both ends of the building; zoned interior lighting and mechanicals; a plan for demising walls for future tenants; and docks that will accommodate multiple tenants.

10 Quickie conversion key to success

Meet Glendale (Calif.) Medical Plaza, a landlord's nightmare. In its first seven years, the 27,000-sf office building went through two owners and never achieved more than 60% occupancy. Two years ago, with the building vacant and in foreclosure, Younan Properties took it off the bank's hands for $2.1 million. Chairman/CEO Zaya S. Younan started renovations 15 minutes after the papers were signed, and work on the five-story structure was completed in six weeks. Within four months, the firm was able to get the building 97% leased to Class A medical tenants and, shortly thereafter, to sell it for $3.2 million. The key, according to Younan: Act quickly to put a new spin on a white elephant's negative reputation.

11 Donate your used tires to alma mater?

Illinois State University's Hancock Stadium in Normal was plagued with outdated artificial turf and poor drainage. Shive-Hattery of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had 90 tons of crumb rubber from 9,000 recycled tires brought in for use as an infill material for the field, covering it with AstroPlay RR-XL.

"Our athletes find the surface plays very similarly to natural turf, and although it is a softer feeling turf, it is not a slower playing surface," says Doug Dowdy, assistant director of athletics and internal operations. "It drains extremely well, and we are not experiencing migration of the crumb rubber as we feared initially." Alas, the Redbirds went 6-6 last fall, 3-4 at home.

12 Like a bolt out of the blue

BlueBolt provides architects and interior designers with an online library of 50,000 commercial interior finish products, 53 leading brands, and 20 types of interior finishes. The free service enables professionals to search, select, obtain specifications on, compare, organize, and order samples. Sample boards and catalogs can be saved online to document the progress of projects, saving storage space and time.

13 Don't reroof, re-cover

That's what the Livonia, Mich., schools did, starting three years ago. The district didn't want to shut down schools to tear off roofs and put new ones on, so officials opted to re-cover them instead. Durapink Plus extruded polystyrene foam insulation from Owens Corning was used to provide structural integrity while serving as a temporary roof, allowing the project to dry in while the re-cover application was finished. The insulation added to the energy savings and life expectancy of the new roofs.

14 New way to win "eyeballs"

Anshen+Allen Los Angeles wanted to grab the attention of 500 current and potential healthcare clients, especially CEOs of major hospital systems in the West. They came up with four attention-getting novelties, mailing one every three months. Just before Halloween, they sent out plastic eyeballs with the theme "Stay focused" to highlight their work at Shiley Eye Center — UC San Diego. Number puzzles ("Puzzled?") told how the firm solved a complex phasing problem at Santa Monica — UCLA Medical Center. Toys that could be bent into various shapes carried the message of how A+A LA "shaped" a program for the University of New Mexico's Health Science Center. Cube puzzles told recipients to "Think inside the box," telling how the firm helped Kaiser Permanente design a replacement hospital while working within tight parameters. Marketing director Jill Capanna says the items cost $.86 apiece, plus $1.29 shipping.

15 Drop-and-go ledge system

Working with independent engineering firm Tadros Associates LLC, Reward Wall Systems, Omaha, Neb., learned that the standard procedure for reinforcing manufactured insulating concrete form brick ledges and ledge forms does not satisfy American Concrete Institute ACI 318 guidelines. The problem: Individual pieces of rebar must be bent into stirrups on the job site or ordered pre-bent from the rebar manufacturer, but the ungalvanized rebar can rust if not properly installed; as it expands, it can crack the concrete. To overcome this, Reward has come up with the "xLerator" ("ex-el-erator" — cute, isn't it?), a galvanized welded wire reinforcement that drops into the preformed reinforcement slot in the company's ledge forms and provides greater strength in the corbel. The "drop and go" system can reduce labor time and costs.

16 Newsletters that kick butt

Having tried a "scholarly" newsletter that everyone at the firm ignored, Legat architects created a design-focused internal newsletter that would generate excitement while reinforcing the firm's image. The result: "As the Crow Flies," a somewhat irreverent but effective four-pager that — yes indeedy — covers the Waukegan, Ill., firm's latest projects, but with a refreshing attitude, while also throwing in some humor (e.g., principals in chicken suits) and creative employee suggestions and questions. Another internal newsletter, "Marketecture," keeps employees posted on the firm's marketing efforts. Both publications make generous use of orange, Legat's "brand" color.

17 Make a wish and tickle a fish

A lesson from marketing veteran Kimberly A. Kayler, president of Constructive Communication, Dublin, Ohio: Too often, she says, firms looking to state their unique selling proposition or mission statement fail to fill in the blank in this simple statement: "I wish the marketplace knew ___ about us." Whether you're developing a public relations campaign, designing a Web site, or responding to an RFP, completing that statement gets your point across in a matter-of-fact and effective manner, says Kayler.

18 Rent up vacant office space ...

... via the Web, using a new Worldwide Property Commercial Real Estate Information Portal from South Africa-based ResearchWorldwide, with more than 200 commercial real estate listing services, landlords, and brokers operating in 69 countries.

19 Chill out, people!

That's what Peter J. Basso, chairman of his own engineering firm in Troy, Mich., says, in advising universities how to update outmoded chiller plants: 1) If possible, replace steam absorption chillers with electrical chillers — more efficient, cheaper to install, easier to maintain; 2) dump (well, not really) those nasty old refrigerants; 3) check your pumps, especially if they're more than 20 years old, to improve efficiency; 4) in cold climates, use outdoor air to chill water if you have a central chilled water plant; and 5) look at installing a looping system to connect multiple chillers when a central plant is not feasible.

20 Seismic design saves big $$$

Under San Francisco's stiff seismic code, the design firm Gensler had to make sure its Moscone West convention center could be used as a safe public shelter immediately following a major earthquake. A conventional moment frame system would have required overly heavy columns to reduce the lateral sway to 1%, given the building's 37-foot floor-to-floor heights. The project's structural engineer, local firm Structural Design Engineers, invented a lateral system that employs two girders at each floor, coupled with vertical links that absorb the lateral energy in an earthquake. SDE's patented Coupled Girder Moment Resisting Frame has the added benefit of greater earthquake energy absorption than a conventional moment frame system, while costing $2 million less to construct.

SDE: 415-781-1505

21 Award-winning software

The "Energy Plus" energy simulation software from USDOE's Lawrence Berkeley (Calif.) National Lab's Simulation Research Group enables design of energy-efficient green buildings and can be used to develop energy standards, determine the energy impact of new technologies, and as a training tool. This product won a prestigious "R&D 100 Award" from our sister publication R&D Magazine in 2003.

22 Call them "greenbacks"

Green building mortgage-backed securities are being touted for the sustainable design movement by environmental lawyer Michael Italiano, co-founder of the U.S. Green Building Council, and president/CEO of the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability, Washington, D.C. This mechanism would pool residential and commercial mortgages for green buildings and, theoretically, get a higher credit rating for them from Standard & Poors and Moody's investment services, as well as lower the cost of insurance and borrowing money.

23 The upside of having a heart attack

Philips, the Dutch electronics giant, cut a deal with Wisconsin Heart Hospital, Wauwatosa, to install its flat-screen TVs in all patient rooms. One interventional suite will get all the latest Philips catheter lab equipment upgrades for five years. In return, Philips gets to use the space as a showcase site. HDR Architecture, Omaha, Neb., created a six-catheter lab pod with 600-sf rooms to accommodate all the equipment.

24 "Holiday Inn" revisited

Native wood, stone, and other "natural" materials were used to accent the new regional airport terminal in Petoskey, Mich., transforming what could have been a cold steel/concrete structure into a warm "rustic lodge" appropriate to the Upper Peninsula. Among the 30 subcontractors who worked on the 34,500-sf Emmet County Pellston Regional Airport terminal was local specialty homebuilder Town & Country Cedar Homes, which used its expertise with white cedar to fashion log canopies, trusses, and stairs for the $8 million project. Of course, some might not go for the mounted stag heads in the trophy room, but, hey, this is the U.P. Is that Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" in the background?

25 Pro bono is pro-business

Walter P. Moore Engineers + Consultants gives 12 free classes to struggling young architects trying to pass the structural design portion of the AIA licensure exam. Good for goodwill, future business.

26 Software to cover your assets

Garland Co., Cleveland, develops a set of roof asset management components into a package that includes software to do real-time job progress reports and job site checklist; and to analyze energy savings based on NRCA guidelines; and life cycle costing that allows customers to do direct comparisons of roofing materials.

27 Peel me a grape

Break up massive spaces into more human-scale work areas by arranging workstations in arrays like grape clusters instead of egg-crate grids, suggests Julian Jacobs Architects, Toronto, as it has done at Bell ExpressVu's new 60,000-sf call center in Hogtown (that's "Toronto" to the locals). The design contributes to a 10% savings in IT costs, real estate savings of 30%, and possibly reduced turnover among the 773 employees — a huge problem in the call center business. Herman Miller uses the facility as an off-site showroom to demo its Resolve office furniture system.

28 Where all that paté comes from

Batiplum is a natural insulation for roofs and walls made from 20% thermofusible textile fibers, 10% hygienic wool, and 70% safety-treated duck feathers. The feathers provide insulation, the wool lends elasticity to the product, and the textile fibers serve as the bonding agent, eliminating the need for resin. The green product won a silver medal at last November's Batimat building show in Paris.

29 Train the trainable, not everyone

Leigh Mires, manager of employee development for Walter P. Moore Engineers + Consultants, has a simple but wise HR philosophy: Stop training people in areas where they display no talent. "It's like trying to teach a pig to sing — you only get frustrated, and the pig gets annoyed," she says. Her approach: Train people in areas where they have talent. That will create much more value for your firm — and the employee.

30 Design improves worker productivity

An idea to suggest to your client for your next big headquarters project, from Elmer Burger, principal and VP of design at Pittsburgh firm Astorino: At the Astorino-designed PNC Firstside Center (a LEED Silver awardee) in the Steel City, owner PNC included a "back-up day care center" in the building, for employees to use when grandma's got a cold and their regular day care is unavailable. Usage: 1200 child-care days in Year 1, meaning 1200 days employees weren't calling in "sick."

31 Do away with dial-up downloads

Sony's Micro Vault USB Storage Media device plugs into your PC or Mac and allows you to work on PowerPoint presentations right up to last minute rather than burning a CD; also good for transferring files from work to home or vice versa without dial-up downloads (which can take a half-hour). After Omaha, Neb., HDR Architecture Inc. used the Micro Vault on a project for the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the client was so impressed they bought their own.

32 Buy this book!

David Gottfried's Greed to Green, a personal history of the green building movement and the U.S. Green Building Council, from its co-founder. Highly readable and inspirational.

33 Lab design primer

Doing a lab? Educate your client's "lab user committee" with the 2004 Lab Design Handbook from R&D Magazine. This 112-page primer ($50) offers great tutorial content that will save you a lot of work explaining the basics to the scientists who will be looking over your shoulder.

Order from: Sue Hergert, Reed Business Information: 973-292-5100 x 371;

34 Map the route for your client

Gensler's "performance map" links organizational performance to design solutions. The map frames the process in which physical workplace considerations, processes, and operational requirements support specific business objectives by determining key organizational priorities and elements to be measured. The San Francisco-based firm used such a map in designing space for video game maker Electronic Arts, which wanted to increase the time employees spent on campus, boost cross-fertilization of team ideas, and promote greater communal work and posting of work in progress. The performance map has resulted in increased productivity (EA workers arrive 5% earlier and leave 7% later than before). The distance between teams has been cut by 35%, and "high-performance work behaviors" have been boosted (e.g., library usage is up 300%).

35 One roof, four high schools

Educators are moving toward smaller student populations for high schools to make them less intimidating, but how do you do that economically? A new high school complex in Chicago that recently broke ground will house four separate high schools under one roof, with shared library, media center, pool, two gyms, 500-seat auditorium, and cafeteria. Each 450-student school will have its own classrooms, labs, offices, and administrative staff. The design creates a "little school" feeling within a larger, more financially feasible context. Design architect OWP/P teamed with architects of record Gonzalez Hasbrouck Architects and Guajardo and Associates. James McHugh Construction and Riteway Construction Services are the contractors. All firms are based in Chicago.

36 Structural advice

Got a question about structural elements on your latest project? Ask the experts at the AISC Steel Solutions Center, Chicago. They handle 200 technical questions a week, without "pushing" steel as the only solution, says director Roberta Marstellar. Also from AISC: "Steel Teams" (not the NFL affiliate from Pittsburgh), which can provide a single point of contact for any questions related to steel. There are 16 such teams around the country; each has an engineer, a fabricator, a detailer, and a supplier. The AISC claims they can cut steel schedule time 35%.

37 Paint your campus green

Take a page — or, more accurately, 340 pages — from Ball State University, which has held three-day conferences on the greening of the Muncie, Ind., campus for the last five years. The state university publishes the proceedings (on recycled paper with soy-based ink: very PC) and puts up additional web sites to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability in an academic setting. Architecture professor Robert J. Koester, director of the university's Center for Energy Research/Education/Service (CERES), is the driving force behind the effort.

38 Where safety is Job 1

Turner Construction Co. has put its OSHA 30-hour certification course online, allowing workers to do Web-based learning 24/7. It is followed by one day of instructor-led training. Turner has also started putting paramedics on job sites, starting in New York. They handle mostly cuts and scrapes, but there have been two instances where paramedics contributed to life-saving effort for workers having heart attacks. New software developed by Turner tabulates health and safety jobsite inspections via PDAs so that the contractor can identify safety concerns and work with subcontractors to solve them.

39 Get the sustainability message out

Got a green story about your firm? Tell it. That's what Johnson Controls did with its brochure, "Going Green: Sustainable Facilities on Campus." Well-written, handsomely illustrated case studies make the case for green in academia, and incidentally position JCI as a leader. Similar brochures from PPG ("PPG Glass, Coatings and Paint USGBC LEED Specification Summary") and Wausau Windows ("Build Green") show how their products can be used in green projects and help earn LEED points.; 888-PPG-SPEC; 877-678-2983

40 Think "gray" for future projects

So advises, "the worldwide commercial real estate information portal." The aging population in the U.S., Japan, Russia, and many European countries will be looking for affordable restaurants; hotels and casinos; recreation, sport, and entertainment venues; and medical, healthcare, and elderly-service facilities.

41 Dorms go "Euro"

"Euro-styling" brings a kind of "Old Europe" (with apologies to Gerhard Schroeder) feel to a University of Guelph student housing project by The Ventin Group, Ltd., Cambridge, Ont. The townhouse design (four students to a two-bath unit) incorporates town planning principles from European city squares to "moderate the shock" for young students moving from the bosom of their families, while green-space courtyards, loggia inspired by arcades and colonnades in Bologna and Florence, and other Old World touches attract returning students to live on campus rather than in town. Partner-in-charge Paul Sapounzi says the gently curving frontage of the townhouses was meant to emulate the eighteenth-century Royal Crescent in Bath, England. The townhouses are connected by second-story bridges, but they're not just corridors. They're also bedrooms, thus making good use of space and creating a kind of "eyes-on-the-street" security component, à la Jane Jacobs. "There was a long list of people waiting to get in," says Cat Taylor, president of the residence council representing the 4,900 students who live on campus.


42 Believe it or not! No waiting at this ER

The "no-wait" emergency room at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Ind., eliminates the antediluvian concept of the "waiting room." Upon entering the 22,300-sf facility, patients are immediately escorted to one of 35 private rooms, designed by BSA LifeStructures, Indianapolis. No curtained-off treatment pods here: each room has walls and doors for privacy, plus TVs and phones for patient and family use. The $5.6 million facility, which opened last July, has experienced an 18% increase in average daily patient load. "We've tried to design the wait out of the ER process," says Dr. Thomas Gardiner, EVP of Ball Memorial's parent company Cardinal Health. "We're also changing the way we've traditionally operated in an effort to reduce patient waiting time."

43 Bridging the data gap

Imagine trying to manage a 10-year, $2.2 billion construction/reconstruction project for nine campuses of the Los Angeles Community College system with two software programs that didn't talk to each other. That's the situation DMJM Management found itself in when it chose Meridian Project Systems' Prolog Manager to automate the construction life cycle and Deltek Systems' Costpoint software to manage the project's finances. The prospect of having to enter the same data twice on such a huge project or to purchase an expensive customized application was not a solution for DJMJ. Happily, Deltek software engineers were able to create a unique "data bridge" that enables any cost-commitment data entered into Prolog to automatically become a pending purchase order in Costpoint. Now, DJMJ's computers are chatting away.

44 Give a week to Mother Earth

Chicago A/E firm OWP/P set aside five workdays last October for the firm's in-house "Environmental Awareness Week." The firm's Patricia Rozenzweig says activities included lunchtime lectures on sustainable design project implementation, off-site tours of green buildings, movies and videos ("Blue Vinyl," "The Next Industrial Revolution," "Pennsylvania's First Green Building"), and presentations by green-product manufacturers. A Sustainable Design Competition featured projects by each of the firm's practice niches. The goal, says director of architectural design John Syvertsen, was to "demystify" sustainable design and create "a unifying and mutually understood purpose around which the whole firm can rally."

45 You'll be all in clover ...

.. when you use the unique cloverleaf configuration for hospital design from RTKL. The Dallas-based firm used the cloverleaf pattern in Florida Hospital Waterman, Tavares, for Adventist Health System. It creates three suites of 10 rooms each, allowing a direct line of sight for caregivers and patients, maximizing patient visitor areas.

46 Seismic breakthrough

The buckling-restrained braced frame, developed in Japan, is the newest seismic technology on the market. These frames are composed of struts made of a steel core encased in a steel tube filled with concrete or mortar; a layer of "unbonding" material between the steel core and surrounding concrete ensures that compression and tension loads are carried only by the steel core. Benefits include low cost, reliability, resistance to fatigue, and easy replacement. Reaveley Engineers & Associates, Salt Lake City, used 344 of these braced frames in the retrofit of the Utah capital's Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building. The project won a GSA National Design Citation for engineering and technology.

47 Get your glass delivered fast

PPG's Certified Fabricator Program cuts glass fabrication lead time by 80%. The program certifies 25 glass fabricator locations in North America that can deliver glass in as little as 3-4 weeks, vs. 16 weeks in the past; as a result, glass delivery need not determine the sequence of other work on a project. The program has already been used in such projects as Heinz Field, Pittsburgh; Petersen Events Center, University of Pittsburgh; and the University of Arkansas's Reynolds Center for Economic Development in Little Rock. May also help qualify for LEED Credits 5.1 and 5.2.

48 Top urban planning Web sites

PLANetizen e-news issues The Top 50 Websites for urban planning. Really useful for planning, zoning, land use issues. Assign someone on your staff to get this first-rate e-newsletter and report to others in your firm on key findings by editor Chris Steins.

49 Mock-up speeds up glass job

To refit GSA Building 67 in Lakewood, Colo., Centerre Construction of Englewood, Colo., chose Gump Glass, Denver, as glazing contractor. Gump, part of Harmon's nationwide team of glazers, did the repair and replacement at night, while daytime staff prefabricated, packed, and organized materials. To assist the installation team, Gump built a mock-up bay window as an instruction model so that crews could understand how to attack the job. "There was a potential for a big headache to our tenants, but they have hardly had their workday affected at all," says GSA project manager Steve Gump. The job was finished ahead of schedule.

50 Strut your stuff

Consider light-gauge steel strut for your next project, as RTKL did with the Post Biltmore in Atlanta. With numerous restrictions on it, including fire code issues, the project was in jeopardy of incompletion when RTKL found that the fire code allows for an additional floor with noncombustible steel exterior walls of Type V construction.

51 Kids make an impression

When H.J. High Construction Co. decided to use tilt-up concrete for the $10 million, 96,000-sf Manatee Elementary School in Melbourne, Fla., the company set the exterior façade apart from those at other schools by having 2,000 children imprint their hands and casting them into the tilt wall panels. The job required five tons of plaster.

52 Where is everybody?

Also by Gensler: "4-1-Where" software, a Web-based resource-management system that provides "instant access" to space, occupancy, and tenant information, without additional facilities-management software.

53 Golden Gophers score big

Kudos to the University of Minnesota for producing InformeDesign, a monthly e-newsletter that compresses peer-reviewed research on interior design and related design issues into digestible capsules (with links). One cited paper discusses how sick building syndrome affects men and women differently (why? Women are more sensitive than men — duh!) Another describes how daycare centers influence toddlers' stress, as measured by a hormone in their saliva (solution: put children in smaller groups). Yet another reviewed why different business travelers choose luxury hotels (Asians want speedy service, comfort, and quiet, while Westerners look for location, price/value, and access to the home office). Priceless stuff that could have a major impact on your next project.

54 How do you know what customers want?

Ask them. That's what Rick Mowrey does. As marketing director of Centria, Moon Township, Pa., he holds sessions with hundreds of architects every year to learn what their design problems are and what they want in new building products. One result: FormaBond, an aluminum composite material panel system. Says Mowrey, "These sessions are a great way to learn about the newest trends in architectural design."

55 Space-saver elevator saves the day

KONE's MonoSpace compact elevator essentially eliminates the need for a separate machine room next to the hoistway, thanks to its AC gearless hoisting machine, the EcoDisc motor. For the renovation and expansion of a century-old factory for client Ferrotherm, a Garfield Heights, Ohio, maker of precision components for the turbine engine industry, general contractor Nyman Construction was able to install the MonoSpace's elevator controls in a small closet at the top landing inside the hoistway's front wall, thus saving valuable space that made the project feasible.

56 Sound solution

The gym space at Chartiers High School, Minneapolis, can hold 5,000 for basketball games, cheerleading competitions, or assemblies, but the acoustics were so bad that the sound system was completely ineffective. The problem: excessive reverberation — 4.5 seconds to dissipate a loud sound to 60 db, with 2.0 seconds as the recommended time. To reduce the echo, school district facility manager Bob Gold had illbruck Architectural Products' Fabritec wall panels and Sonexvalueline baffles installed. Reverberation time was reduced to 1.41 seconds.

57 Reserve money issues for last in M&A

In acquiring other firms, money issues shouldn't come up till the fourth or fifth meeting, Steve Smith, president of Chas. H. Sells engineering company, told attendees at ZweigWhite's December Mergers & Acquisitions Summit in Boston. Keep your M&A targets within your strategic plan—don't go out looking for acquisitions wildly. "If we want each other, we'll make the financial side work," said Smith. "The least difficult part of the transaction is the financial part."

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