November 27, 2017
Before design comes thoughtful planning. And that can’t happen without meaningful discussions to learn how clients use their spaces today—and what they need to make their business, school, hospital, or civic building run more smoothly in the future.
Whether they realize it or not, TSP’s clients usually need more from their building projects than the extra rooms or updated interiors that first bring them to us. We asked decision-makers in education, healthcare, business, and nonprofit work to share how involving our architects in their early discussions affected their project outcomes.
Planning the site layout and traffic flow
First Dakota National Bank | Vermillion, SD
Farron Pratt learned just how much goes into a project’s early stages when he worked with TSP on his first-ever building effort. As Vermillion Branch President for First Dakota National Bank, Pratt needed to verify whether a parcel of land acquired by the bank would be a good fit. He envisioned a destination center with a coffee shop and other tenants to draw traffic.
“Before we even got into how spaces inside the building might work or be arranged, we needed to go through multiple renditions to look at parking, traffic flow, and entrances,” Pratt said. “We actually determined that we had to add another parcel to do what we wanted and make it a complete project.”
Architect Jason Kann overlaid each parcel’s map with an outline of the building’s footprint. That helped Pratt’s team see how each configuration could be optimized.
“The two drive-throughs—one for the bank and another for the coffee shop—added another level of complexity,” Pratt said. “we spent time really working through that. It might not be the most glamorous part of the project, but it was critical to have a good flow through the property.”
Programming and grouping spaces
Bion Companies | Sioux Falls, SD
Chad Poppe was feeling growing pains. His startup, Bion Companies, had been renting space in a typical office building. But Bion’s focus on laboratory science and biofuels components makes the group anything but a typical client. “We’d gone down the path with a developer and had floor plans to fit out another office suite in a spec building,” said Poppe, a co-founding partner.
“We were working really hard to fit in this space, and the building should work for us instead. We started thinking about a new space, but we didn’t know how many square feet we needed, what should be arranged where or how to get plans drawn up for what we wanted. It was really a learning curve.”
That’s saying a lot, considering the advanced science Bion Companies carries out each day. “With eight employees, we’d probably say everything needs to be close to everything else all the time,” Poppe said.
Architect Kann and Business-Development Specialist Mike Jamison visited Bion’s current office with a low-tech—but highly effective—exercise: Paper cutouts sized to represent the square footage required for each type of functional and support area. The tool helped Bion’s team visualize which spaces to group together and how to control access to the more sensitive rooms and equipment.
Listening to every voice
Sheridan Memorial Hospital | Sheridan, WY
TSP has worked with Sheridan Memorial Hospital (SMH) for more than a decade to create a master plan and design multiple new facilities as well as addition and renovation projects. Our ongoing efforts include a 70,000 sf Medical Office Building that’s on target to open in late 2018 after four years of conversations, planning, and design.
“Our ICU expansion project is another great success story,” according to Rob Forister, SMH’s Director of Facility Support. “TSP was involved from the very beginning—from concepts and pre-planning—because it was a very complex project with a significant addition and remodeling of existing spaces.”
Principal and Senior Architect Mark Averett made numerous site visits to other facilities with SMH leadership to identify which trends in critical-care environment would translate well to Sheridan. He stayed highly connected as the build moved forward with partners from O’Dell Construction, the Construction Manager at-Risk.
“It totally makes sense if you can pick your team and trust it,” Forister said. “We were under budget and within the time frame. Our stakeholders were involved from the very start, too, and our nursing staff and patients are very happy with the results.”
Securing public buy-in
Brooklyn Center Community Schools | Brooklyn Center, MN
Brooklyn Center Community Schools has seen a nearly 20 percent jump in enrollment during less than five years. Roughly half of the district’s 2,500 students open-enroll to the school system, which serves a diverse population that often lives in poverty (40 percent) and overwhelmingly qualifies for free- or reduced-price meal programs (80 percent).
Cramped conditions at the district’s three schools demanded solutions. But the November 2017 referendum vote to increase the operating levy and issue almost $30 million in construction bonds faced an uphill battle. In addition to economic concerns, Brooklyn Center had to overcome the idea that taxpayers would be footing the bill for families who live beyond the immediate attendance area.
“We were out there, talking to community groups, appearing on TV, making sure people understood that the having the right spaces makes a difference for our academic programming,” Superintendent Mark Bonine said. “Kids who aren’t as wealthy deserve the same experiences as everyone else.”
Bonine credits TSP Office Leader and Architect Von Petersen for bringing a positive energy to the challenge. “He can see our vision and developed it,” Bonine said. “TSP helped us form a committee around our facilities needs and assess our schools to say, ‘This is what you have and this is what you should have to fit what you want to do in the future.’
“They told us, ‘Let’s go through this together,’ ” Bonine said. “It was a year and-a-half, with a lot of meetings. I think the powerful thing about working with TSP is they didn’t just tell us what this process should look like for our community. I’d say 95 percent of the people here had no experience doing something like this, so that degree of collaboration from TSP to work behind the scenes and do the planning work in a way that felt authentic to us was really helpful.”
The community, which passed both referendum questions, has high expectations. “I believe 100 percent that working with TSP, we’re going to have a beautiful outcome for our plan,” Bonine said. “It’s going to change what our students experience, how we operate, and how our teachers can reach them.”
Defining scope and managing bids
Special Olympics South Dakota | Sioux Falls, SD
Nonprofit leader Darryl Nordquist moved Special Olympics South Dakota to a new Sioux Falls site and office building created through the design/build method. A newer project, the Unify Center, required a different approach. The athletics facility is the first of its kind in the nation, dedicated to Special Olympics programming.
“We understood the whys and the reasoning behind every decision we needed to make, and that was very helpful,” Nordquist said. “Nothing was too out there. We felt like we could bring up anything we wanted to try to do with this, and we’d get the advice we needed to determine whether we could make it happen within our budget.”
Nordquist also valued TSP’s ability to coordinate the bidding process, freeing him up to “compare apples to apples” in a way that wasn’t possible in his previous design/build experience.
“TSP draws the plans, decides which items are in which packages that get released to bidders, answers questions from contractors, and really takes charge of the whole process,” he said. “There was tremendous consistency among bidders that way.”
Special Olympics South Dakota opened its Unify Center with a ribbon-cutting one year ago this month. Nordquist attributes the positive outcomes to all the careful front-end work.
“I could be sitting here now and saying, ‘I wish we could have done this or that.’ And so far, there isn’t anything,” he said. “We accomplished as much as we possibly could.”