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John D'Angelo, vice president of facilities, Northwestern University

Podcast: Interview With John D'Angelo

In this podcast interview, John D'Angelo, vice president of facilities at Northwestern University, discusses universal design, Northwestern's culture of "and," shifting teaching and learning methods, and how KPIs create cross-department collaboration.

(0:15) – On universal design, why it’s important to Northwestern, and some examples from campus. 

- Universal design is really about adapting the environment to our people instead of making people adapt to the environment. 

- Universal design is all about dignity.

- Typically in architecture, you see buildings put up on pedestals.

- ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act – is really a minimum. It’s not the epitome.

- Universal design, when it’s done well, is much more cost-effective than ADA


(3:06) – On Northwestern’s philosophy of “AND”

- “AND” is in our DNA  

- Facility managers tend to have a thousand issues they’re juggling at any one time, and trying to solve those individual issues is a nightmare.

- By taking the issues, and grouping them in such a way that you can drive a single solution through many of those issues, you get that “and” effect. 

- Great example at Northwestern: Common Space – takes competing needs and combines them together

- Lobbies, lactation rooms, inclusivity/gender-neutral restrooms.

- Energy efficiency and dignity through design

- The program (Common Space) solves a dozen of those issues in a controlled and repeatable manner. 

- If we can solve issues of energy efficiency and inclusivity with the same program, those are the “ands” we’re looking for. 


(8:22) – On shifting methods of teaching and learning, and how space needs and operations at Northwestern are changing to accommodate

- In the past, we’d always find the most hidden and secluded spot to study.

- Students now study in small group – need more access to online resources. 

- Adapt quiet, secluded spaces to small, medium, and large group study spaces. 

- Free up space in library by digitizing books, and converting to study areas.

- Needs have definitely changed – lots more IT-intensive, lot less physical

- Experiential learning – it’s not just about the formula anymore. Let’s go out in the field and apply it. 

- Northwestern’s Solar Decathlon success


(12:55) – On KPIs, transparency, and why it’s important that everyone in FM and across campus are on the same page

- If you have programs that are very critical to you, there ought to be a way to tell if you’re tracking to your goal or not. 

- One of the things we do that gets back to “and” is using KPIs to bring real estate, planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and sustainability together.

- What we’ve done is tie business line leaders together with a common KPI deck.

- Metrics have all our critical processes, and each of our directors is responsible for entire deck. Sustainability responsible for construction, etc.

- Maintain credibility by publishing KPIs. 

- KPIs can be downloaded by anyone in the university and my peers at other universities. 


posted:  11/30/2017