A Q&A with Acoustic Dimensions’ Craig Janssen
Some refer to this collaborative design process as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). Others, like Janssen, call it rapid prototyping. But whatever a designer or builder calls it, the process is revolutionizing the way buildings are concepted, designed and delivered today.
Here, WFD asks Janssen to supply examples of the approach and its efficiencies on Acoustic Dimensions’ work at The Crossing church in Chesterfield, Mo., where the company completed a design for an 1,800-seat worship center in just four days.
WFD: What’s Acoustic Dimensions’ history with The Crossing project?
Janssen: We have a multi-year, multi project-relationship with The Crossing. This particular project phase (design of a new auditorium) was started in Jan 2011 and completed in four days. The project then went into fund raising and is now approaching detail design.
WFD: How did you employ the process of rapid prototyping design on the project, and what were the main efficiencies the church and design team realized in terms of time and cost savings?
Janssen: In order to get the project to the same stage of development, previous projects were developed in a more traditional design approach. This included programming (needs analysis) meetings followed by concept design meetings/design efforts and filled out with a schematic design phase. This took the church and design team between 2-3 months to complete. The costs of time and team are difficult to account for in detail, but are considerable.
Our approach was to have the church fly to Dallas, confirm the project program (space goals / culture / size / needs, etc.) in the morning and begin the design that afternoon.”In discussions with Art Kuiper of the The Crossing (project leader), we suggested that we circumvent the long process and compress the meetings into an intense few days at our offices. This would require attendance with all key decision makers from the church and the presence of the architect. Our approach was to have the church fly to Dallas, confirm the project program (space goals/culture/size/needs, etc.) in the morning and begin the design that afternoon.
–Craig Janssen, Managing Director, Acoustic Dimensions, Dallas, TX
We worked into the late night alongside the architect developing concepts for the church to consider. This work involved a team of eight Acoustic Dimensions members (plus an architect) working in concert on all elements of room design, stage design, acoustics, sound, video and lighting. We developed two approaches for the church and they selected one to proceed into 3D. Several members of our team worked through the night to develop the design to 3D.
The next afternoon we presented a coordinated and rendered 3D model, which indicated the room design. This design was substantially code-compliant, included all planning for sound, lighting, rigging, and provided preliminary equipment lists for all systems along with budgets.
This process is dramatically more efficient than a traditional approach, as it requires all parties to be present at once for an extended amount of time to make joint decisions.
Additionally, there are no wasted design efforts such as development of multiple meeting minutes, travel time to multiple meetings, development of reports, review of previous meetings to catch people up, dealing with group dynamics where some people did not attend a key meeting, etc. Further, the capacity to house the design team in one location with powerful coordinated technologies allows high design efficiencies due to computer networking for 3D collaboration. Specifically we were able to have multiple people work at the same time in one model all while talking to each other about their design direction. This allows various approaches to be tested and discarded or approved very rapidly with little waste.
From a collaboration and deliberation point of view, the church was able to provide comments in real time to the design and we were able to make changes as needed. The level of emotional ‘buy in is very high from all parties.
WFD: Is rapid prototyping different from Integrated Project Delivery—not necessarily IPD with the American Institute of Architects’ stipulations of the process and the contractual set up, but from the larger idea of IPD—collaborative design with all members of the design team present with the client?
Janssen: Rapid prototyping is aligned with IPD in terms of the process relying on the collective expertise of the architect, engineers and the client; however, we've borrowed the term rapid-prototyping from manufacturing to describe the real-time, visual collaborative approach to developing concept designs for auditoriums. At the end of a rapid prototyping exercise in manufacturing you have a model that people can see, feel and discuss to develop the real product. The same is true for our process.
WFD: Did you use a type of Building Information Modeling (BIM) software as part of the rapid prototyping process? If so, what kind of software was used. And if not, why not?
Janssen: We worked in AutoCAD 3-D for speed during the work session, but the project will be done in REVIT. We also used 3D Studio Max along with several other discipline-specific programs.
|A rapid prototyping process of design calls for several intense days of discussion with all key project decision-makers present.|
WFD: How do you, as an AV design company, help educate your church clients like The Crossing on why design and construction needs to change and why it's important to the tenet of environmental stewardship?
Janssen: In terms of the process, the clients who have been through a design/construction project before are pretty quick to embrace it because they have lived the inefficiencies. Projects cost too much, come together too slowly and, in the end, are often less than what the client had hoped for. Our skill in the process goes beyond the engineering disciplines for which we are hired. We are skilled facilitators and our offices in Dallas and San Diego have spaces tooled to support this real-time visual collaboration.
WFD: What words of advice do you have for other designers who're trying to introduce and facilitate new design processes when working with churches? Is there an invaluable nugget that helps guide all your efforts?
Janssen: The big driver is a commitment to [an] effective process which includes regular re-engineering of the known, challenging the status quo, developing and implementing technology, and looking for solutions outside of our own industry.
Carol Badaracco Padgett is content director for Production Media Inc., publishers of WF Designer, Worship Facilities Magazine, and Church Production Magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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