Reshaping Project Designs

By: Travis Estvold
5 April 2013

By Gene Kolstad AIA, PE, EDAC, CTA Billings

More and more our clients are incorporating innovation programs into their Cultures so as to improve and, in some cases, significantly change the way they operate. We can differentiate our service quality for the better if we help them with constructive change.  This takes knowledge of processes such as: 6 Sigma, *Kaizen, Evidence Based Design, Value Engineering, Best Practice, Operation Excellence, LEED, Organized Programming Techniques, Life Cycle Evaluations, Sustainability, Collaboration, Teamwork, Etc.

When you think about it, we need to double down in these areas:

  • To continuously improve and innovate in advancing our processes and quality within CTA.
  • To understand and help our clients with the improvements critical to successful outcomes.

I recently had the opportunity to train with a client team in the area of DFSS (Design For Six Sigma) and came away with new approaches as well as a verification of what we already do including:

  • CTS Ranking – Functions critical to success
  • Avoid rework – Do it right the first time
  • Little ideas add up – Don’t always look for the Big Idea
  • Trust those in the trenches for input
  • TRIZ method – Complicated, but worth looking up
  • Kaizen—(改善), Japanese for “change for the better”, continuous improvement of processes
  • Techniques – for determining basic functions
  • Better ways to conduct user group and focus group interviews ways to ask questions
  • The importance of measurement
  • Search for delighters

CTA is a leader in our industry and we will continuously improve. Participation by our entire team is the key. We have long understood the innovative approach and the need is becoming even more evident.

EVIDENCE BASED DESIGN (EBD) is one method that we are gaining on and soon we will have a group of CTA professionals trained and certified by exam for this process.  EBD is becoming essential in the area of Healthcare Design.  In it’s development stage – less than a decade old, the process is truly paying dividends.  The Center for Healthcare Design defined EBD as follows:

The process of basing decisions about the built environment on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes.

EBD is more than using experience and user groups to shape designs.  It is the use of rigorous research, hypothesis and measurements to change the environment of care for the better.

Examples include work that has been done to reduce falls in hospital rooms. Once the fall reduction goal is established, the design of the room and the relationship to bathrooms, railings and nurses viewing abilities, changes dramatically.  After occupancy measurement has shown that falls are reduced.

On a recent project, a CTA team had listed accommodation of bariatric (morbidly obese) patients as an EBD goal. This changed door and bathroom sizes in a way that our standard bathroom templates no longer applied. The ensuing design changed and was better because of the process.  It also will influence designs into the future.


A nationwide trend to inform Designers and Owners about Evidence Based Design is resulting in a “growing number of professionals” who are accredited via testing in the EBD Field. CTA must embrace this process and encourage all to become informed and wherever possible gain accreditation.  This trend is improving design outcomes, and as a by-product is strengthening the credibility of design professionals.

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