Imagine having to design a training facility from scratch. Where would you start? Graham O'Connell offers a few pointers.
It is good to be involved from the ground floor, if you will forgive the pun, but there is a lot to consider. In a way it is a bit like deciding what training to do - you have to start with needs.
What type of training will need to be accommodated and how flexible will the facility need to be? And even when you answer these questions there is still a bit of guesswork if you want to really future-proof the design.
The other issue is resources. We have a fairly new facility with all blue tooth technology, high definition projectors, speakers built in to the ceiling and so on. But it didn't come cheap.
In the absence of the above information here's my top 10. I hope they may stimulate your thoughts if not give definitive answers.
1. I'd make the main rooms 60:40 (slightly longer than wide).
2. I'd make each room a slightly different size to accommodate different group sizes.
3. I would make syndicate rooms different sizes for the same reason, perhaps having one big enough to act as a mini training room. Include spy holes.
4. I would build in more electrical sockets than you think you need. Centre front, to the sides and recessed in the floor. I would also have sockets at the back for things like a water cooler, fan, etc.
5. If you are doing PC based training I would consider various layouts (eg pairs in two rows, outward facing, etc.).
6. Generally I prefer a rail system at the sides of the room, ideally with two rails at different heights. Whether you go for a front rail system or for free-standing flipcharts and electronic whiteboards is a matter of personal preference, though I and many trainers prefer the latter for flexibility and ease of use.
6. Make sure you know which rooms face which direction (for sun light and summer heat). For environmental reasons you may want to minimise built in air conditioning but for south facing rooms it really is vital.
7. Make sure your lighting switches on and off variably (dims in rows starting at the front - so you can dim the front separately if necessary).
8. Build in secure boxing for a PC, DVD recorder, video recorder (if you are still using videos) and a sound system. Consider having visualisers rather than over-head projectors. If this lot is not to be blue tooth, then make sure you can connect to it (eg with a laptop) in more than one place, preferably off-centre at the front.
9. Check existing facilities and see how many people they can get in with different room layouts. Set your room size to take at least 10% more than the expected maximums you have in mind.
10. Think about ambience - light but warm neutral colours in north facing rooms, for example; colour coordinated chairs; sites for posters, plants, brochure racks. And privacy, such as having binds on doors with glass panels (so you have the best of both worlds).