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Case Study : Higher Education :

Georgia Southern University, Center for Engineering and Research

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Situation

In 2014, Georgia Southern University (GS) in Statesboro, GA received approval from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents (BOR) to offer a B.S. in Manufacturing Engineering starting in August 2015. This new degree, offered through the College of Engineering and Computing, was initially held within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, creating space constraints and difficulty in gaining recognition as a unique academic offering.

GS envisioned that manufacturing engineering would be eventually spun-off as a standalone department that is more hands-on and kinesthetic than other engineering programs. Further, GS intended to collaborate with the regional industry to increase research and student employment opportunities to bolster the local economy.

These desires motivated the creation of the Center for Engineering and Research (CEaR) building. In August 2017, the BOR and GS engaged BDR to bring this vision to life serving as the Program Manager.

BDR Solution

Notably, BDR helped deliver project success through a throughout understanding of the client’s unique motivators, desires, and needs. Through collaborative engagement, BDR helped identify three themes to make the CEaR successful and maximize return on investment:

  • Visibility – The facility must be designed within the context of the existing campus, inspire a variety of users, and serve as an experiential learning environment
  • Cooperative Flexibility – The facility must be a student-centric building with careful design to engage all uses visually, functionally, and spatially so that the building and department can promote industry partnerships and drive the local economy
  • Sustainable Functionality – The facility must be efficient and adaptable, with ease of access, service and maintenance, and materials and systems must be selected not just for aesthetics but for longevity

Through all stages of the project, BDR and the supporting team referenced back to these key themes, starting with conceptual design, beginning with a site analysis.

A site analysis confirmed that the future location of the CEaR would support the program themes. Visibility is maximized with a location offering the most exposure to campus. By analyzing building accessibility and landscape design, cooperative flexibility is realized with dedicated entrances for various uses and creation of outdoor engagement spaces with adjacent buildings. Sustainable functionality of the site was considered by referring to the overall site, building massing, and orientation, while considering impacts from weather and sunlight.

Following site analysis was a charrette with users and owners to understand the best space configuration that supported flexibility for planning and reconfiguration. A detailed programming diagram yielded different concepts for building program blocking. Each concept was compared based on the fitness of each as they relate to the key goals and themes of the program, cost, and potential to develop a state-of-the-art environment for future engineers.

Results

The chosen variation promoted high degrees of flexibility by adding an additional bay of lab space to the ground and second floor, affording a back-to-back lab block that can be reconfigured with future needs. With this addition, the building evolved into a slightly wider and shorter floorplan that will accommodate expansion in the future. The building organization creates a collaborative environment that natural connects interior spaces, and the design increase visibility of the significant work being performed in the CEaR.

As the project moves towards the construction phase, BDR continues to make sure team members and stakeholders are aligned by the identified themes. Budgets are closely monitored to make sure no crucial programming elements will be cut and scheduling is managed with careful attention to potential implementation risks to ensure an on-time delivery. With careful oversight, BDR is ensuring that Georgia Southern University achieves its goal to educate, inspire, and foster the growth of 21st century engineers.

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