Facility Designer  What They Do

Just the Facts


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dotFacility 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.

dotFacility 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 a project.

"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.

dotThe 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.

dotThis 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.

dotYou'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 and energy-efficient.

Such considerations are important no matter how big or small the project is.

"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.

dotA 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.

dotDepending on where their clients are located, a facility designer may have to travel for meetings and presentations.

dotPeople 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.

dotIf 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 theaters.

"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 them."

At a Glance

Lead a team in the design of a building like a stadium

  • It can take a year to complete one project
  • You may have to travel for meetings and presentations
  • A degree in architecture or industrial design is required


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