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Benefits of Automated Design Standards

by Pam Kendall / September 9, 2022

Whether you are building a new courthouse, renovating a police station, or transitioning your in-person office to a hybrid office, a key element in any space project is the use of design standards. Design standards define the types of individual spaces needed along with their intended use, occupancy, square footage, and finishes. These standards serve not only to ensure that a project has the right space to support the organization’s mission, but they also serve to set limits and realistic expectations of what is allowed in a project. They provide a tangible reference for how a space should be planned and built, and form a key part of communication between the client and the design architect.

 Design standards are generally published in some type of design guide, which could be a simple spreadsheet on the computer, a binder on the shelf (one that needs dusting off!), or even an online resource. These design standards are generally provided in text and tables, and the values need to be extracted for use in creating a program of requirements (POR).

 While design guides are great, I have an even better solution. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you could answer a few questions and have all the space requirements automatically calculate for you? It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

 Well, good news! Automated design standards are the answer you’ve been looking for, and they are available now! As a statistical data analyst and web developer, I have been a part of designing and coding tools that help clients plan and design space with accuracy, efficiency, and flexibility. Space types and their associated square footage requirements are stored behind the scenes and with the push of a button you can select among alternative scenarios (including space reduction options), manually adjust elements to fit your needs, and calculate a POR in a fraction of the time.

 There is Nothing Better than Automated Design Standards


 Let’s face it… people make mistakes. Everybody is human. When coming up with a POR for a space project, the last thing you need is a mistake that could throw everything off. If the design standards are automated, the element of human error is completely erased from the equation.

 From square footages to quantity of various spaces, all information from the design guide or from the design standards can be stored behind the scenes. That means calculations are always accurate and are always based on the latest and greatest requirements.

 With automated design standards, the calculations will be consistent no matter how many times you run the calculations. Accuracy is key, and being consistently accurate is even better!


 Today’s post-pandemic world sees more and more meetings taking place remotely. If your design standards are automated, running a virtual pre-planning design meeting with all necessary stakeholders is simple. With the automated design standards tool up on the screen, questions and assumptions can be discussed and answered, adjustments can be made, and results can be calculated on the fly.

 There are always “what-if” scenarios that come up during the design phase of a construction project. An automated design standards tool allows the stakeholders to run multiple design options in a fraction of the time it would take to calculate the space needs for those designs manually.


 You may ask - but what about the exceptions? What if design options are limited by existing restrictions, or a project doesn’t need all the spaces listed, or there is a special requirement that isn’t included in the design guide? Don’t worry. Any good automation tool will not only be accurate and efficient, but it will also be flexible.

 Being able to create a baseline of calculations is essentially just the beginning of the automation process. Allowing people to tailor the process to their own unique design standards is critical. This is often overlooked, but the automated design standard tool must be robust enough to allow for adjustments so that every design situation can be accommodated.

 An Automated Design Standard Tool is the Teammate you Didn’t Know you Needed

 If developing the space requirements is known as space “programming,” why not use computer “programming” to calculate the space requirements? I have seen automated design standards save not only a lot of time, but a lot of headaches and costly mistakes as well. Just imagine what you could do with the extra time and money you save by using automated design standards. And the bonus? No dusting required!

Tags: Integrated Building Design

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Pam Kendall

Pam Kendall

Pam Kendall is a statistical data analyst and web developer who likes to spend her free time playing guitar, hanging out with friends, and traveling.

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