Mock-Ups: One of the Tools in the IPD Toolkit

November 11, 2015

By Laurie Canup

As design professionals who have been trained to visualize three-dimensional space from two-dimensional drawings, one of the challenges we face is to help our clients to imagine the spatial outcome of the design drawings we share with them. Whether they are scientists, teachers, judges, or senators, our clients often struggle to translate two-dimensional drawings into what will eventually become real. We are finding that Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is encouraging new approaches for design exploration, and real-life mock-ups are one of the tools we employ to help our clients visualize how their space will look.

At SRG, we are incredibly lucky to be a part of several of the first IPD projects in the region. Integrated Project Delivery is rich with opportunities to work together with our clients in developing the project's design. For the Knight Cancer Research building at OHSU, we recently built a mock-up of an open laboratory neighborhood to help the scientists see, touch, and experience their planned laboratory. The goal of this exercise was to help the client understand how their new building will support team science and inspire research to advance the fight against cancer.

While working with OHSU in this new IPD delivery model, there has been a strong emphasis on Lean processes and Lean construction. How can Lean help an IPD project? The answer: PDCA-Plan, Do, Check, Adjust. Our first step was to Plan: design the bones of the building - in our case, we are planning the building around the concept of laboratory neighborhoods. Next came Do: where we built a full-scale version of the space out of cardboard. It was our mock-up of the typical Lab neighborhood, which allowed the researchers to "kick the tires," helping them visualize what the finished space might feel like. Then it was time to Check: we asked the scientists a series of questions about how the space would best work for them. Do they need three laboratory sinks or do they need four? How do they balance the need for wall shelving on the exterior wall with windows that bring in natural light? Can the space be configured in enough different ways with wet-lab benches and write-up desks to allow for variety of team configurations to work in the space? Does it provide enough long-term flexibility to support a variety of research interactions and activities? The last step in the process is to Adjust: through the input we received from the researchers, we now have the necessary feedback to move ahead. We can now adjust our laboratory neighborhood plans to address major concerns.

The mock-up provided the necessary feedback the team needed to keep moving ahead quickly with confidence in our decisions. The IPD process provided the necessary resources and teamwork to allow this quick exploration to take place. Taking the time and energy to do this work up front has allowed an early "adjustment," which is potentially saving the project big dollars. As we've all learned, the sooner in the life of the project the large decisions are made, the cheaper those decisions cost the project in the long run.


Laurie Canup