Although the image of the space planner has begun to come into focus, there are still a good many blurry physiognomic details. In order to help bring the portrait into sharper resolution, Contract recently asked a group of space planners a series of 23 questions, and this issue is devoted to their replies. The 11 individuals whose discussion of the practices and problems of space planning makes up the next 22 pages, are all ranking exponents of this new science with a vast amount of important work to their collective credit…
They are representative of a profession that, without status a decade ago, today controls a decisive segment of contract work. We addressed our questions to the participants listed below because we felt that their pooled experience would yield significant information, both for other professionals in the field and for prospective clients….The symposium that they have developed constitutes, in our opinion, the first publication of a basic primer of space.
(Excerpts from the 22-page section follow)
R.L. Forster, Ebasco Services: In 1947, when I joined Ebasco, we began our consulting approach through the space administration and space utilization avenues, putting the primary emphasis on the creation of physical surroundings as a business tool to carry out the purposes of the business enterprise; the physical preparation of the space is but an implementation in the whole planning process.
Lawrence Lerner, Saphier, Lerner, Schindler: Most rooms attempt, in one way or another, to recoup their time investments. Some ask for it as a percentage of cost, some as a ‑ at price for the job, and others, in various methods of presentation ask for hourly rates.
Marvin B. Affrime, The Space Design Group: While hourly fees based on manpower may be necessary for projects short of total planning and design, most equitable for over-all planning and design assignments. There is growing evidence, however, that some adjustments may be necessary in percentage arrangements for a ‑ at 15 percent does not always provide adequate compensation for the designer.
Frank Colangelo, Leonard-Colangelo-Peters: …I am sometimes amused or that it plays a minor role in the business. I charge deliberate and consistent dishonesty—specifically: a. Bribery— payments to real estate brokers for favors—tips, and recommendations; b. Extortion—in the form of kickbacks demanded of suppliers and manufacturers. This extra “hidden cost” of course is really borne by the client; c. Theft—in the form of “loaded” bills to clients who are not informed of true discount prices and who, therefore, pay outrageous prices for items purchased by the designer.
Gerald Luss, Designs for Business: I would say that the main problem in the space planning profession today is in the willingness on the part of some firms to provide space planning at no cost to the broker or client. I feel that the designer loses considerable stature when he is willing to give away his hard-earned professional knowledge.
Forster: Probably the one thing that the competent space planner can offer that the client himself may never possess is an awareness of the significance of the effect of physical facilities of the company’s operations. Jack Freidin, Freidin Studley Associates: A good space planner provides his client with the following benefits: efficient utilization of space; good design; properly planned environment (re: lighting, air conditioning, sound control, etc.); management of every phase and detail of the project; and budget control.
Affrime: It is impossible for the space planner to know the business operations of his client too intimately. Design, to be effective, must be based upon thorough and objective research. Space planning research, to be effective, must go far beyond counting noses and desks and file drawers, and then sitting down with a table of minimum space requirements and a floor plan and figuring out how to fit everything in the least possible number of square feet. It goes far beyond finding out who rates corners and windows, and what colors the boss is allergic to. Research means taking the lid off an organization and finding out what makes it tick today, and what will make it buzz and click tomorrow.
Freidin: As the age of specialization becomes more specialized, as it inevitably will, the space planner will have to become more involved, even than he is today, in all of the technical aspects of modern office planning. For example, his knowledge and field of experience will have to keep up to date with advances in the fields of communications (radio, television, telephonic), electronic data processing equipment, environmental control (temperature, humidity, sound, touch, smell, lighting, color, materials). As the technical tools at the designer’s command become more complicated and involved, he will find himself by necessity becoming more involved with the functional aspects of the business operation and their relationships to these technical tools.
Colangelo: Architectural offices employ (either directly or as consultants) structural engineers, electrical and mechanical engineers. That relatively new breed, office planners, should be involved at the very inception of each building project, just as these other specialists. But the economics of space rentals usually forced these natural partners (architect and space planner) on opposite sides, the architect employed by the building owner,the space planner by the tenant, and this unnatural arrangement has further complicated what is at best a difficult project technically.
J. Gordon Carr, J. Gordon Carr & Associates: …We are architects and work closely with the building architect when the building design is in its early stage.This works to the benefit of both owner and tenant. The two parts are very closely related. There should be close team work between the landlord’s architect andthe tenant’s professional adviser—in our case, the tenant’s architect.
Nathaniel Becker, Becker & Becker Associates: There is a clear line of responsibility between the architect and the space planner. However, both must work closely together and be sympathetic to the work of the other.