Issues that have become the focus of public building design have developed as a result of the design community's response to the unique needs of the clients. These issues reflect the concerns that clients express to designers during all phases of the design process, from initial programming to post-occupancy evaluation.
- Accountability for the expenditure of public or private funding for the project.
- Compliance with all codes and regulations governing the project.
- Conformity with rules and regulations particular to the building needs.
- Durability of finishes, furniture, furnishings within the building environment.
- Flexibility to respond to changes is a mandate.
- Operations and Maintenance (O&M) within the context of the institutional facility.
In recent years, some of the most significant challenges for designers engaged in the practice of Public building design include aspects of design that reflect those issues of concern to their clients.
Accessible design: With the passage of the Public Disabilities Act (PDA), there has been an increased awareness for accommodation and universal design. For many years, designers have followed the National building Code and Standards, but the passage of PDA made designers more aware of the importance of publicly mandated guidelines.
Environmentally responsible design: Public and private institutions come under great scrutiny for responsible conduct. In recent years, institutions have become increasingly aware of the need to be good citizens of the world and address environmental issues. Since most of these facilities are very large and often operate continuously, issues concerning the use of energy and resources come into sharp focus.
Many institutions search for ways to limit waste, reduce energy consumption, recycle, and use recycled products in their facilities.
Facilities for operations and maintenance: Increased costs for operating and maintaining facilities necessitate specific plans that govern operations and maintenance (O&M) of institutional facilities. Interior designers work closely with facilities managers to specify products that are easily maintained and serviced. These concepts include planning for surplus stock of building products, specification of materials that are easily repaired, selection of on-site recoverable furniture and furnishings, and systematic planning of routine operations and maintenance practices as part of the overall facilities design.
Design to support emerging technologies: Rapid shifts in technology have required clients to plan for the future without knowing what the future technologies will bring. Institutional designers plan so that spaces may be easily reconfigured as organizations expand or reduce in size. How large institutional clients deal with emerging technology continues to affect the way their buildings are designed. Figuring prominently into the design efforts are creative use of spaces below finished floors and above finished ceilings as well as continued improvements in the delivery of electrical, mechanical and security systems. Technical drivers continue to be the use of flat screen technology, the shift to fiber optic networks, and the advent of wireless technology in the workplace