Program Driven Design is Integrated Design

A Design Approach for Broadcasting Facilities and other Technical Spaces

Our long history of providing architectural, planning, engineering, and interior design services engenders sensitivity towards all disciplines, whether it is our own design professionals or outside consultants. This integrated design approach translates into efficiency and an improved bottom line for our clients. It also has resulted in specific expertise with program driven design for commercial buildings with specific user requirements and, therefore, a mandate to support a certain kind of work in very specific ways.

Commercial Building Design

Commercial buildings can be categorized as one of two general types, those designed for an unknown user and those designed for a known user. Although the resulting shape of the two building types can be influenced by similar forces, the outcome is a reflection of divergent goals. The most common type of commercial building involves design solutions that support an unknown tenant. For this type of building, the future use must be relatively flexible, e.g., retail, office, warehouse.

Many people will think of the iconic office block, or tower, when considering a commercial building’s shape. In its simplest form, an office building is a vertical or horizontal volume supported by a center core of services (elevators, restrooms, etc.). The resulting interior volume is a ring of space to be filled by an unknown client according to the user requirements. These requirements typically involve no more than specifying floor plate size, window spacing, and bathroom locations. Building design solutions for this type of commercial building are driven by the need for flexibility, which ensures that the widest range of occupants can be accommodated.

Program Driven Design

The other type of commercial building is the product of a program driven design, e.g., factory, television station, technology center. A building housing a known user must support a specific kind of work in very specific ways.

Design solutions for program driven buildings must be informed by the relationship of the specific elements that compose the structure’s underlying purpose. The conception of such buildings also requires flexibility, but this flexibility is complicated by being within the bounds of an evolution of the original requirements.

Program Driven, Purpose Driven

The evolution of program driven design is dramatically different than that of many commercial buildings. Factory floors must be serviced by loading. And, as is the case with many of our media clients, production studios require specific ceiling heights, and recording spaces demand quiet. Only when the specific spaces match the technical requirements can a program driven design project truly be considered a success. For example, the positioning of windows and light exposure as it relates to technical space requirements are key considerations. Similarly, building height can be influenced by a number of programming requirements, from IT and technology (raised floor) to ceiling height (production) to the positioning of the stair tower and elevators.

Multi-disciplinary, Integrated Design

Consider a confidential HLW project involving three levels with technical television production space and studios. The effort involved significant integration of MEP and broadcast infrastructure. A key aspect of the project’s success was HLW’s capacity to provide programming services, establishing upfront the goals for the building.

In essence, the new building is a stack consisting of program elements and their support spaces. We positioned MEP infrastructure below grade and technical support spaces, such as control rooms and post production spaces, at the lower level. Studios are located at the upper grade and are supported by an MEP mezzanine, which perfectly fits in its building container due to the double height studio space requirements.

Significantly, a digital production facility, such as the confidential client’s building described above, includes numerous spaces that cannot accommodate natural light, including studios and control rooms. Spaces, such as rack rooms and MEP support spaces, do not require natural light. HLW works within these restrictions, designating spaces that can benefit from natural light at the perimeter. It is possible to create a ring of glazed, naturally illuminated space surrounding a core of rooms that require controlled access to natural light. Such a design strategy permits occupants to have access to natural light in the normal course of circulating through the building.

Consequently, solutions for program driven design must, by necessity, be multi-disciplinary and integrated in nature. The building’s interior and exterior must be simultaneously considered.

Keith Hanadel and John Gering are attending the 2015 NAB Show in Las Vegas, NV, April 13-16.