Open Plan FAQ

What is Open Plan Design as implemented at UCSF

Open Plan Design, as implemented at UCSF, is a workspace model that provides occupants with a variety of public and private areas to work. This enables users to move to different areas as their day-to-day activities shift between focused and communal work. Components of Open Plan include:

  • Assigned private offices
  • Assigned work stations
  • Unassigned and unscheduled focus rooms, for 2-3 person meetings, phone calls or heads down work
  • Unassigned huddle rooms for small group meetings
  • A variety of conference rooms
  • Unassigned hoteling workstations
  • Shared kitchen/break areas

To maximize occupant access to views and natural light, low-walled cubicle areas are typically located near windows while high-walled offices and work rooms are kept to the interior of the floor. This model allows for growth and contraction without the expense of adding or removing walls and reconfiguring building infrastructure. In addition, Open Plan adds up to 20% more usable space than the traditional model by removing the public corridor. By adopting Open Plan design, UCSF is better equipped to accommodate growth in the long term.

How was the decision made to use the Open Plan Design model and by whom?

In 2009, against the backdrop of a budget crisis in the State of California, UCSF senior leadership (including representatives on the UCSF Space Committee) and faculty (represented by the Mission Hall Stakeholders group) met repeatedly to debate the manner in which Mission Hall could be designed. Several models were considered, however, guided by budgetary constraints and the need to 1. relocate faculty and staff from increasingly expensive lease space throughout the city, and 2. provide academic space for the clinicians being mobilized to staff the new hospital at Mission Bay, senior leadership and faculty representatives decided to implement what was then known as Activity Based Workspace (ABW) for Mission Hall.

Since Mission Hall opened in 2014, many lessons have been learned about both the advantages and the limitations of ABW in an academic setting. Those lessons are now being used to guide modification of the space in Mission Hall, and are being adopted in the design phases of Clinical Sciences Building renovation, the Academic Tower and Opththamology Building on Block 33 and other buildings and renovations across all UCSF sites.

How is Open Plan Design different than Activity Based Workplace?

One of the primary differences between ABW and Open Plan is the inclusion of small private offices. In addition, the lessons learned from Mission Hall around sound transmission, how the spaces are actually being used, department identity, shared costs, and more, are being carefully considered and implemented through the Open Plan Change Support Project, which began July 1, 2017.

How will private offices be assigned?

Guidelines have been developed on how to assign private offices. These guidelines will be shared with the managers and chairs of departments moving into the building so they may have criteria to work from when assigning both private offices and work stations. The Open Plan Change Support project will provide tools and resources for managers to help them make decisions well in advance of their moves.

What is a focus room?

One of several types of space available to individuals that work in Open Plan, focus rooms are acoustically separate from workstations making them ideal for containing the noise generated by phone calls, small 2-3 person meetings, and teleconferences. Focus rooms are also idea for individuals in need of a distraction-free place to complete heads-down work. These rooms are not schedulable and thus available for use as needed.

What is a huddle room?

A huddle room accommodates 4-6 people for meetings and collaboration. It is recommended that these rooms remain unscheduled and only be used by 2 or more people.

What type of technology will be provided in focus and huddle rooms?

The Building Project Managers, along with IT partners, are working closely to ensure adequate and consistent technology is provided in focus and huddle rooms. It is expected that the rooms will include a phone. As soon as additional technology decisions are made, they will be shared here. 

Will guidelines be provided for the usage of rooms?

Training, events and resources are being developed and planned by the Open Plan Change support project. Change Agents have been appointed by each department/ORU moving into the building. Change Agents are charged with supporting their staff and faculty as they prepare for the move. All events and resources will be coordinated with department Change Agents throughout the 18 months prior to move-in. A list of Change Agents moving to CSB or Block 33, by school and department/ORU, will be available shortly.

Examples of events and resources include:

  • Occupants having the opportunity to visit their work spaces prior to moving in to 'kick the tires.'
  • Videos that show how rooms and spaces are best used, with the expectation that occupant groups will work together to adopt their own norms for their spaces.
How will conference rooms be scheduled?

As part of the Open Plan Change Support Project, this question is being addressed and a clear response will be shared once decisions are made by early 2018.

Is there a break room or kitchen area?

Every floor is outfitted with a kitchen with commercial grade microwaves, refrigerators, multiple sinks and seating. Guidelines on behaviors and norms for using a shared kitchen will be developed and shared with Change Agents and ultimately, all occupants.

How will shared resources be managed and paid for?

As part of the Open Plan Change Support Project, this question is being addressed and a clear response will be shared once decisions have been made.

How do I request additional space for my growing program in open plan buildings?

Requests for additional space may be submitted by the department’s appointed space coordinator (s) via the Archibus space request process. Note that all department/ORU initiated space requests must be approved by the department/ORU chair or director prior to submission via Archibus.

General Archibus information and training materials can be found here. To contact the Space Analytics team, please email [email protected].

Additional questions may be submitted to [email protected]