New building standards set, goal is quality

by Heather Fors

With millions of dollars tied into campus construction, the University took an extra step to ensure the new facilities are top-notch.
By releasing updated building standards, the University is looking to the future in hope of preventing unnecessary repairs.
The new standards set construction guidelines for all University buildings. They include quality requirements for landscaping, building supplies like wood and cement, and masonry.
The standards sketch the University’s basic minimum requirements, though the structures can be built better than required. The idea is to invest in higher quality products so as to decrease future maintenance costs.
Completed in a nine-month period, the guidelines were compiled to make the jobs of building planners, architects and engineers easier by providing a specific outline of how things need to be done.
It is particularly crucial for the University to have a fluid code of standards because the buildings are an investment in the future, said Anna McDonagh, an owner’s representative who negotiates with contractors for the University.
The standards are designed to lay out what will be good for the University in the long haul, said Eric Kruse, interim vice president for Facilities Management.
The University must think beyond just the capital costs of the edifices and also consider the ongoing maintenance and equipment needed for upkeep, McDonagh said. The standards must also reflect the forward-looking vision of the University, she said.
She compared the University to someone searching for a car.
A consumer can either spend a lot of money initially by buying a newer car or can buy a cheaper car and pay a lot in maintenance. With the new standards, the University is putting forth big dollars for higher quality in the hope of avoiding repairs.
Although there has been a code in place at the University since the 1970s, it was outdated and seldom used. The standard documents are usually updated every four years.
Since building techniques and technologies change swiftly, it’s important to continually update the standards to keep up with the innovations, McDonagh said.
The University became the second Big Ten school to put the standards online, with Ohio State University being the first.
By having the standards online, updating will be easier and more efficient. It also makes them more accessible for planners and builders.
“It becomes much more of a living document,” said John Mecum, the vice president for Miller-Dunwiddie Architects. “The University is able to stay more in touch.”
Mecum has worked with the University on several projects and helped in revising the standards.