How to design your own command center on a budget

Sunday, July 31, 2011 gc 2 Comments

I realize that this post will probably land me in your Geek circle on Google+, but I feel compelled to share my design and quest for my own command center and lab. No, it is not in my Mom's basement. They do not even have basements in Texas—just saying.

It has been my goal for a long time. It is quite attainable. I think it makes a lot of sense for families. Most families do not have the right space for work, homework, and play. A space for new ideas and collaboration.

Besides, the single workstation office is often a contemptuous place where family members try to elbow each other out of the way. Traditional architectures just do not have the right spaces to accommodate this lifestyle—especially as a software developer. Even my wife now needs a dual-panel for Facebook and email. This has to be a point of contention for a lot of other couples as well.

Here are the DIY (Do It Yourself) Command Center initial steps: 
1. Design with Visio: has a template to help you get the design down to the inch
2. Take inventory and make a budget: trying for less than 3K
3. Get it approved by the finance committee (the hard part)
4. Build it

My design was inspired by time that I spent in a lab at the Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) last year except they have labs with four and six workstations per lab. The labs at the MTC also have a whiteboard in the center instead of the flat panel. It is, also, inspired by actual network operation centers that I have visited.

Here is the Command Center floor plan. I used Visio with Office Layout Template:

Here is the text that was cut off to the left about the Plexiglas whiteboard:
Design and Homework Wall
6'x 4' Colored or clear Plexiglas board with rounded corners
Mounting: 4" metal stand offs or swivel center mount
If swivel mount, use LED attached to mounting facing wall for indirect lighting

It will be a great place to work and play. A place to collaborate with friends. Also, a workplace for my daughter for homework and games. Hopefully, trig and calculus will be more fun on a clear Plexiglas board.

My plan is to have no books or paper in the lab instead just workstations and iPads (that can contain an entire library of e-books).

I have ideas for a tight cabling system that I have already used successfully on another workstation. Just power and CAT 5 are needed to each workstation, then all other cabling is brought underneath the table.

It would be great to design the actual furniture and replace flooring, but that will blow out the budget. I plan to use cheap Ikea furniture until it can be replaced. The design challenge is to build a great comfortable workplace with a tight budget constraint. I use indirect LED colored lighting as well.

Maybe this effort will inspire someone else to enter the Geek circle and build his or her own command center.

I will post some more about this—hopefully about step #4. It will be a while until I reach step #3, but I promise I will get there.


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Anonymous said...

Any updates? Did you get approval from the finance committee?

gc said...

Finally got it started. More updates and photos to come.