Importance of Developing a Building Program


The core design work for most of SPEC projects involves manufacturing process engineering. The first and most important step is establishing the client’s manufacturing scope.  The space that houses the manufacturing process is only one of the many spaces required in any manufacturing facility.  Space must be planned for utility rooms, laboratories, warehousing, shipping, offices, meeting spaces and corridors.  This planning begins with the building program.In simplest terms, the building program contains the documents that define all the physical aspects of the space that will be used for a project.  It typically contains the use and square footage for each room, the utilities required and where a particular room must be located in relation to other rooms.  The trick in developing a strong building program is to accurately translate the owners needs into terms that the architects and engineers can clearly understand.Because of the complexity of SPEC’s projects, the building program is critical first step in “getting it right.” This process is easier when an existing manufacturing operation is being expanded because we can rely on the existing space to help formulate the program for the expanded space.  Developing a sound building program becomes exponentially more difficult when a completely new manufacturing process is required.  In this case, SPEC is will more often rely on the body of information we have collected over the years from our numerous previous projects.

Developing a Building Program

Once the manufacturing requirements are established and the space has been defined to locate the equipment and personnel, the remainder of the building program can be developed. The effort is led by the architect and is based on 3 key factors.

  1. What additional spaces and uses are dictated by the type of manufacturing?  Each manufacturing process has its own set of requirements.  What are the supporting utilities and where will they be housed?  What are the raw materials and where will they be stored?  Is QC lab space required on the plant floor or in a separate lab?
  2. What are the owners’ business requirements?  Every owner will have different requirements that are dictated by the way their company is managed.  How many offices are needed?  How many meeting spaces and break rooms are needed?
  3. How do compliance requirements affect the use of the building?  Many manufacturing processes have significant additional code compliance issues. Is special storage required for solvents or flammables? Are there egress issues?


The answers to these questions will dictate the remainder of the building program

Components of a Building Program

After allocating space for the central manufacturing area, these are the typical building areas that are addressed in a program:

  • Offices
  • Conference Rooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Break/Lunch Room
  • Locker Rooms
  • Open Office Areas
  • Storage Areas (H-2, S-1, F-1 are examples of Use Group classifications)
  • Mechanical Rooms (Electrical, HVAC)
  • Process Areas
  • Labs (Production, Quality Control, and R&D)
  • Production Areas
  • Shipping and Receiving areas (Loading Docks)
  • Vaults (If we have a client with precious metals or restricted access raw materials)
  • Control Rooms
  • Mezzanines (Sometimes used as a way to not have a second/third floor)

While we typically are guided by these factors, our approach to a building program project depends on the client’s specific needs.  Please get in touch with us for specific examples, and sample drawings of projects we’ve done in the past so we can tailor an approach to your project requirements.


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SPEC Process Engineering & Construction