Looking Back and Moving Forward

Postoccupancy evaluations offer a systematic process for assessing completed projects, pointing the way to better-performing buildings.

February 2008
[ Page 4 of 7 ]

By Joann Gonchar, AIA

He associates the dissatisfaction with the building’s acoustics with the second floor’s open office layout central to both the daylighting and natural ventilation strategies. And he points to the nature of the occupants’ work, which requires that they have the ability to concentrate alone, and that they gather in teams, often generating noise. “Those activities fundamentally conflict,” points out Shell. In response, the firm has been working closely with its consultants, paying close attention to the use of thermal mass and how much of it is exposed, and looking for ways to combine acoustical isolation of spaces with natural ventilation strategies.



As a result of its POE findings, HOK is performing more comprehensive analysis of its buildings during the design phase. Some of the studies for a planned veterinary lab at the University of California, Davis (top) include an examination of the effect of window openings and glazing types on lab space daylighting (middle and above).
Images courtesy HOK


The CBE survey was also part of HOK’s recent evaluation of 10 buildings that it felt were among its most successful green projects. In addition to the occupant survey, the assessment process included a third-party energy evaluation based on utility bills and maintenance records, and an end-user interview conducted by HOK staff and intended to collect more detailed information about specific sustainable solutions. The process cost about $5,000 per building, an expense the firm paid for itself in order to better understand if design goals had been realized. “Clients would inevitably ask how these buildings were performing,” says Mendler.

The sample of HOK’s projects represented a variety of building types, including offices, laboratories, and academic buildings that had been occupied between one and five years. The examination of these projects revealed that owners and users were generally very satisfied with the HOK projects. However, a few areas of improvement were identified. For example, though occupants were pleased with the access to daylight that most of the projects provided, some reported problems with spill light and glare. And as with the EHDD project, the occupants of open office environments in HOK’s buildings also reported dissatisfaction with acoustics and the level of privacy.


[ Page 4 of 7 ]
Originally published in the February 2008 issue of Architectural Record.

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