Schmidt Associates believes it is important to keep Owners, users, and the members of the surrounding community involved with the design process. However, it can be a challenge meet with all of those people and keep them informed without delaying a project’s schedule. To address this need, Schmidt Associates has developed project blogs to serve as a two-way communication tool—benefiting the Owner, the community and our design team and reducing time spent by all parties.
Project blogs can have different purposes, depending on whom the audience is intended to be and the information that is desired to be communicated (e.g. community consensus, or design decision communication, or merely community awareness). The blog created for Lake Central High School, a $100 million additions and renovation project, worked well as a programming and design tool. This project was on an accelerated schedule to keep the School Corporation’s promise of having their freshman students use the new facility before they graduated. Typically, the design phase of a project like this could stretch to 3 or 4 months, but with the use of the project blog that time was shaved to roughly 6 weeks. During design, meetings were held with select individuals from the School to review program and design information. The results of these meeting were posted shortly thereafter to the blog including graphics showing proposed layouts, etc.
The blog was then shared with all of the teachers and other users of the facility for review and comment. The process allowed all of the staff to be involved in the design, know how they would be affected, and have an opportunity for input. It also condensed the reiterative process of design and allowed the project to meet the schedule.
Receiving comments on designs shared is an important aspect of the use of blogs. Gathering a community consensus, positive or negative, can help steer a project’s direction. Most public blogs have comments built-in to the posts, but as you may know comments can be destructive to a process as well especially when commenters have an advantage of anonymity. To address this issue, most of the blogs we produce only allow comments through emails. These comments are received and shared with the Owner, outside of the public posts of the blog. This allows Owners and the Design Team to identify the commenter, and address the comments in a direct, discreet (return email) fashion or a public fashion (blog post) that other involved parties can view.
Schmidt Associates simply offers these blogs as another service to Owners— allowing them to have total control over how much information is shared on a blog and who will have access to view it. Some blogs are private, open only to a project committee, and others are open to anyone and everyone. Some Owners even choose to have both a public and private blog. The Owner may want the public to only be able to view floorplans, leaving everything else accessible to the project committee.
In summary, there are several benefits to Owners who choose to implement project blogs for a project:
- A wide range of information is share to those interested in seeing a project’s progress that normally would not be involved
- Ability to trace comments and opinions
- Users are one click away from the information they need and can share it with others
- Seeing floorplans and 3D modeling gets people excited about the finished product
- The Owner controls the content not the Design Team
- Owners can view our past blogs to get a sense of how blogs can work for them