The Process of Design for General Classroom Facilities in Higher Education Institutions

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Virginia Tech

This study examined the process of design for general classroom facilities in American four-year public higher education institutions. Combining grounded theory, case study methods, visual methods, and portions of the Authentic, Action-Oriented, Framing for Environmental Shifts Method (Watt, 2015), I was able to address the four research questions posed in this study. I conducted interviews with participants involved in specific general classroom facilities design/construction while asking participants to co-create a diagram of the steps of the process. The data collected from this process produced the Train Model of Design for General Classroom Facilities.

The process begins with the specifics of the institution or college and its chosen direction. The conditions specific to the institution act as a departing station for the process. The conditions specific to the wider context function as the rails on which the train moves. The rails are held together by crossties consisting of the constant collaboration of the triumvirate and stakeholders. A triumvirate consisting of the project manager, the construction manager, and the representative from the academic department move the project through each phase of the design process. These decision-makers functions as the conductor of the train, driving the process while feeding it two distinct types of fuel: budget and time. The triumvirate must continuously monitor the fuel supply to reach the end of the process. In addition, the triumvirate continuously monitors the passengers, to incorporate their feedback into the trip.

The stages of the process function similarly to boarding and disembarking on a train. In Stage 1 you prepare to leave the station. You make a case for what travels on the train with you and what gets left at home. You also determine the fuel needs of the train by setting the project budget and schedule. Stage 2, or Making the Space, consists of the travel to the final destination, carrying along those well-laid plans from Stage 1. The triumvirate drives the train while carefully monitoring the fuel levels. You can make a few minor adjustments once you have left the stations, based on feedback from the passengers, but drastically altering the plans is not a viable option. The type of train you drive represents the different ways in which the process can play out at specific campuses. A passenger train works differently compared to a freight train. The number and sequence of steps in the process of design will vary depending on the type of project you are undertaking (new construction vs. renovation), the available state procedures, and the timing of your procurement of a construction management firm (i.e. the different types of trains you can take). The final destination of the train is the completed general classroom facility.

Education, Higher, General Classroom Facilities, Process of Design, Grounded Theory, Visual Methods