An engineering firm requires a combination of quiet, secluded spaces for detail work and open, communal spaces for collaborative efforts. This mixture is the main factor in the design of office space for this type of firm. Engineers are faced with complex tasks on a daily basis, and they require an office that facilitates their growth and development for these ideas to formulate into innovative solutions. It is imperative that there is a fine balance between individual and group spaces, along with work versus relaxation spaces.
Evaluate the list of employees and their respective roles. Group them according to their function. For example, as engineering firms tend to be of a specific type (software, structural, electrical, and so forth), there will be subdivisions within the team. Group these subdivisions together; this will give you a solid grasp of how many people need to be placed in each area. For instance, if it is a structural engineering firm, there will be different teams in place for the separate functions of a building such as HVAC (heating, ventilation, air and cooling) systems, building facade and structure, hydraulics and so on.
Evaluate the list of needs from the client. Make sure all elements are accounted for on this list. For example, depending on the size, a firm might require closed office space, communal office space for meetings, open space for relaxation and breaks, washrooms, a kitchen and eating area and a resource library for special materials.
Choose furnishings that will provide ergonomic, comfortable and long term support to the staff. Engineers often work long hours and remain at their desks for long periods. A streamlined office is more efficient, and the space can easily be reconfigured if the need arises. Movable frosted glass partitions could transform private offices into communal space, along with allowing the flow of natural light.
Organize the spaces required on your floor plan. Washrooms and kitchens are usually placed on the perimeter for plumbing purposes. Closed offices and meeting rooms are also most effective on the perimeter of the office space as the noise is reduced. The remaining floor space in the center should then be planned as open communal spaces for conversation and teamwork. Small groupings of tables or desks with chairs that can easily be reconfigured are useful here, along with movable partitions.
Lay out the floor plan of the office. Follow the scale on the drawing (for example, 1/4 inch equal to 1 foot). Draw the main areas the client requires (closed offices, open meeting spaces and so on). Emphasize natural light in all areas as much as possible. For example, if the plan shows floor to ceiling windows along one wall, have each area lead up to this wall so each group of engineers will have access to daylight as much as possible.
Draw in all furnishings (as close a representation of them as seen from above as possible) according to the areas you have already placed on the plan. Ensure there is enough room for circulation (minimum 3 feet on all sides).
Remember that your client is the defining factor in any design, and how you lay out the engineering firm office will be completely dependent on the space allotted. If you have a rectangular office space, you can line the closed offices around the perimeter and the communal spaces in the center or the opposite, depending on the client. Make sure your design is flexible and can be reconfigured easily, as engineering is a collaborative profession, and teams will form and disperse frequently as different projects arise.
Engineering firms often have a high number of computers, electronics and other tool that require a lot of electricity. Make sure you allot sufficient space to avoid overheating and tripping hazards.
Rosalind Mohammed began writing in 2002. She contributes to various websites, specializing in writing about art and design-related topics. She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design from the Ontario College of Art and Design and an honors Bachelor of Arts in English and fine art history from the University of Toronto.