Facility designers lead teams of people involved in the design of a building
-- including engineers and architects. The facilities include buildings like
libraries, hospitals, amusement parks and stadiums.
Facility designers are often industrial engineers or architects. This gives
them the technical background required to plan complicated projects. As facility
designers, they coordinate the efforts of all the people involved in planning
"There's usually lots of meetings to get everyone's input, and it takes
communication skills on my part to satisfy everyone involved," says Marc Goetschalckx.
He is a facility designer from Atlanta.
The process starts when a city, company, university or some other organization
decides to expand an existing building or build a new one. The organization
may already have a facility designer on staff. If not, one is hired to bring
together the necessary people for the job. In addition, the designer meets
with the people who need the facility to figure out their needs and the budget
they have to work with.
"The challenge is in designing and planning a facility that is responsive
to a client's needs and wants while keeping it within the budget," says Barry
Graham. He is a facility designer in Minneapolis.
This designing and planning stage can take from nine to 12 months, and
usually involves lots of meetings with clients and other professionals.
Much of the design process is done using computers and a variety of software.
You'll find facility designers employed in architectural and engineering
firms, on staff working for municipalities, universities and government, as
well as in small consulting firms.
A facility designer has to make sure the new facility looks good beside
existing buildings. The designer also has to make sure the building is safe
Such considerations are important no matter how big or small the project
"I'm in charge of a team of professionals who design health-care facilities,
ranging in size from a $380-million replacement hospital for Chicago's Northwest
Memorial Hospital to small renovation projects in community hospitals and
clinics," says Graham.
A facility designer works a regular office schedule, working both in the
office and visiting clients on site. During project deadlines, facility designers
may be required to work overtime.
Depending on where their clients are located, a facility designer may have
to travel for meetings and presentations.
People who work as facility managers say there's lots of satisfaction in
this job. Seeing the finished product of all their hard work gives facility
designers a sense of accomplishment.
"It's really rewarding to see a building being constructed following your
initial design, and then seeing it completed," says Goetschalckx.
If you want to be a facility designer, you have to have a passion for buildings,
whatever your favorite type may be. Designer Brian Arnott has a passion for
"Soak up and learn everything you can learn about the building type you
are interested in," he says. "It's important to know where things came from.
That way, you're not just looking at designs in architectural books and mimicking