Benefits of Tech Design Early in the Construction Process
With technology playing an ever-increasing role in contemporary commercial building design, it is critical to consider how audiovisual, electronic security, and telecommunication systems impact new construction or remodeling planning from the start. Not only are there critical structural considerations, but there are also thematic, ergonomic, and productivity technology applications that could directly impact architectural design.
Technology design plays a critical role in supporting an architectural design theme
With a technology plan in place at the start of a new-build or remodeling project, the chances are that audiovisual, security, and telecommunication systems will better fit the theme of a space. An architectural theme is the common design thread that establishes the look and feel of an environment. It can dramatically influence how a person experiences a space for the first time.
Enhancing the Architectual Theme
Technology design plays a critical role in supporting an architectural design theme. For example, if the building design calls for digital displays in lobbies and hallways, appropriate lighting, mounting, and sightlines must be considered. A technology design would determine industry standards and best practices for placing the screens so they have the most significant visual impact.
Meeting Room Considerations
Early technology considerations for public spaces and common areas also apply to a building’s meeting rooms. For example, while the architectural plan may include appropriately sized meeting spaces, the technology design would consider screen placement, video conference camera angles, and the in-room distances to each subject. Often, these considerations are left to the final stages of the construction project. A technology design plan even considers furniture placement in the room, especially now that many organizations are adopting a FrontRow experience as part of Microsoft Teams meetings.
One common meeting room design issue that comes up frequently is the placement of windows and glass divider walls. Despite being a clean, modern design aesthetic, meeting rooms with windows or glass walls as the background for video conference cameras can be a distraction and, at worst, create a challenge for cameras to control iris and video gain properly. The result could be poor video quality, no matter the selection of audiovisual hardware, and leave a bad first impression on meeting attendees.
Another issue that glass walls present is the need for presentation screen privacy. Typically, the content on meeting room presentation screens should not be seen by anyone outside the meeting room. Polarizing glass wall filters allow people to see into the room but automatically blur any content presented on displays or projection screens. Casper Cloaking Technology from Designtex is an excellent example of window film technology that modern office spaces can use. Once again, having a technology design early in the construction planning process would have identified wall and window challenges and any other possible meeting room design issues.
Seamless Integration into a Space
With all the time and effort required to create productive and pleasing building environments, it can be disappointing to see technology that is not seamlessly integrated. This “tacked-on” approach can take many forms but is often seen when audiovisual and security systems are mounted to walls. Does the mounting hardware create a large stand-off from the wall? Could a recessed wall space have been designed to allow a flush mount application? With a proper technology plan in place, at least the appropriate hardware would have been specified to minimize the appearance of any awkward out-of-place mounted technology.
Avoiding Change Orders
One of the most important reasons for creating a technology design early in a construction project is to catch minor issues that may lead to substantial changes later. For example, technology placement in spaces and rooms that don’t allow adequate power or cooling could lead to significant last-minute structural alterations. There could also be the need to run specific cabling conduits to avoid audiovisual or network interference that, if not accounted for, could lead to expensive change orders.
A technology design early in the construction process can be both a budget saver and provide a more productive and pleasing building environment. It can also set up a new building owner or tenant for future success. Master technology planning can be part of an initial technology design, so issues like technical support, technology maintenance, and cost-effective upgrades are addressed from the start.