January 29, 2019

Designing for Government

Government buildings come in all shapes, sizes, functionalities, and design. While the government building typology canvases political departments between city, state and federal, the survey focused on our city. As a U.S. city, Austin is one of the newer cities founded only about 180 years ago in 1839. Because the culture of Austin leans toward the more innovative side of the scale between history and modernity, it’s no wonder our government aims to reflect this and more.

Where is the focus today when planning for government?

Those surveyed said the highest priorities within the city’s government buildings are the need to design for customer service, effective communication, high performing collaboration, innovation and creativity, and efficiency throughout.

What are some facility issues you are currently facing?

Current facility pain points, according to respondents, are physical segregation across different departments and inter-departmental silos, largely due to outdated interior design not accommodating their new ways of working.

How are new policies and programs impacting your buildings and spaces?

Change is constant. Government buildings with spaces that do not support change, innovation and creativity become a major facility hurdle.

What facility planning strategies would you want considered when planning for the future?

Respondents wanted consideration for design and solutions that support customer service, encourage collaboration physically and remotely across all departments, and plan for future technologies and its integration into the environment.

What topics would you want to address when planning for the future?

Customer service, communication, and collaboration are key themes the city wants to solve for in the future, as well as fostering creativity and critical thinking in the workplace. Other topics included creating a welcoming and hospitable environment, designing for cultural proficiency, and maximizing efficiency.

Designing for government buildings can be a daunting task, since government, in itself, is a complex system. While many stakeholders are likely to be involved in a renovation or new build-out, it’s important to discuss current needs, issues, and what’s most important to each representative and design for them. Because many government buildings are also public spaces, designing for what their building’s purpose is in serving the public becomes critical. Understanding a user’s journey through each possible touchpoint and scenario will also help set the stage for a positive experience for the community.

Chelsea Connolly | SKG Workplace Strategist | IIDA Associate, IIDA Austin City Center Sustainability Chair, WELL AP

SKG is a Knoll furniture dealer in Austin, Texas and San Antonio. We specialize in workplace design and furniture. Chelsea Connolly, our Workplace Strategist, sends out monthly surveys to our clients, design firms, followers, and the community to gauge current perspectives on workplace design. Each month has a different theme. After gathering data, we summarize our findings and share it out on social media. Please enjoy our first article in our 2018 ‘Survey & Summary’ series. If you’d like to be a part of these monthly surveys, please email Chelsea at cconnolly@skgtexas.com. All graphics provided by Danielle Zayas.

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