Designing Facilities for Wraparound Health Services

Wraparound healthcare services are exactly what they sound like—they encompass medical and non-medical services and resources that wrap around a person or family to best support their individual needs and improve their well-being in multiple areas of their life.

Wraparound healthcare programs are based on the idea of treating the whole person. There are many complex determinants of health and someone’s ability to seek or follow through with treatment, particularly for vulnerable populations. This can include financial, emotional, logistical, and other concerns. Wraparound services also account for the impact someone’s illness has on his or her mental health, family, or other chronic conditions.

For example, if your doctor prescribes a specific medication, do you have the ability to get to the pharmacy, pay for the prescription, understand and take it as prescribed, and return for a follow-up appointment to determine if the medication is working? Wraparound care aims to alleviate obstacles in the diagnosis and treatment process—like eliminating a trip to the pharmacy by including one right in the clinic—and providing multiple service and medical providers in one location. Comprehensive care like this has been shown to reduce ER visits and hospital readmissions and improve health outcomes.

One organization providing these types of services in Indianapolis is the Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic (IUSOC). The clinic is a partnership between several educational institutions and community organizations and operates out of the Neighborhood Fellowship Church on East 10th Street in Indianapolis. The clinic provides primary care-based services free of charge. IU School of Medicine, University of Indianapolis, and IUPUI students and other partners provide this care under the supervision of physicians and licensed providers. This includes medical, pharmacy, physical and occupational therapy, dental, social work, and legal services.

Clinic Renderings

Plan for Reception Area & Nurses’ Station at IUSOC

We worked with IUSOC to design a new space to better serve patients. Three primary principles guided our process:

1. Understand What Drives the Mission

Designing spaces that provide wraparound services is a unique challenge. Before you dive into the details of design, you must first understand the organization’s mission and vision. Why do they do this work?

The IUSOC, for example, “strives to close the healthcare gap in the community by coordinating a medical presence to address a wide variety of conditions.” Its focus is the uninsured and underserved, who historically are less likely to seek medical care for a host of reasons, including previous negative experiences with the healthcare system.

This mission drives how the clinic’s volunteers serve patients and the values the clinic space should embody. The team makes a concerted effort to create a welcoming environment where those who are nervous or skeptical to see a doctor feel comfortable. They also have an increased focus on education, helping patients understand their conditions, treatments, and how to navigate the healthcare system. This serves to empower patients to better manage their health.

2. Design for Full-Service Care

The idea of wraparound healthcare is to provide, essentially, a one-stop-shop for patients, making it more convenient and efficient for them to receive the different types of care they need.

To achieve this for IUSOC, we designed what we call “full-service” exam rooms. These rooms are large enough to accommodate a variety of medical equipment so that patients can get everything from an eye exam to a gynecological exam all in one place. If a patient comes in for one problem, and the practitioner finds another problem at the same time, this allows both to be addressed without the hassle of making a separate appointment or moving to a different wing of the clinic.

We were also cognizant of tangential services patients may require to achieve positive health outcomes, such as meeting with a social worker or getting legal support. These services are co-located in the clinic, allowing patients to address root causes and make long-term healthy lifestyle changes.

3. Focus on Access

Having a streamlined, efficient, full-service facility is fantastic. But if that facility isn’t easy to get to or isn’t welcoming to its patrons, it won’t be successful.

For IUSOC, we recommended a new space in Clifford Corners, a mixed-use building containing affordable house and retail we completed for another client, across the street from the church where it currently resides.

Clifford Corners

Clifford Corners

This location was a natural and convenient choice. It is right next to the existing clinic and in a neighborhood where many patients live. In addition, 10th Street is a major thoroughfare to and from downtown Indianapolis, with direct access to public transportation routes.

Overall, the space promises enhanced outcomes for the community—growing the foundational education of our young providers, creating community, and helping to build and maintain individuals and families—regardless of ability to pay.

 

The IUSOC is currently seeking funding to secure its new space and enhance its ability to care for patients. Learn how you can support this mission.

How to Avoid Negative Impacts of School Construction Projects on the Community

PART 3 IN A SERIES

Consider the community that surrounds and supports your school when planning for new builds and renovations

Schools are important assets to cities and towns. A neighborhood school is responsible for producing good future citizens and has a direct impact on the well-being of the community.

As a result, changes within a school don’t just affect the people who come to learn or work there every day. They affect parents, neighbors, partner organizations, and all community members. A new school or significant changes to an existing school—even when carefully planned—can have unintended consequences on the larger community.

Involving these external groups in the school build or renovation process will help to mitigate any of these potential negative consequences of the project. Here’s how:

1. Design with the community in mind.

Schools have a wide impact and a variety of uses. Outside of class, they are home to sporting events, academic competitions, and celebrations for students. They may also serve as a district polling place, host community events and meetings, or be a part of the city/town disaster plan.

These varying functions should be considered in the design of the building, accounting for appropriate meeting and event spaces. Also think about utilization by the public when planning parking, security, building access, and other campus features.

Allowing the larger community to provide input on these and other aspects of the project during early phases can help get buy-in. This is critical if public support for a referendum is needed to fund construction. Also be sure to work with the local police and fire department to gain their community insights and collaborate on safety needs of the campus.

2. Avoid cookie cutter solutions to unique challenges.

Just like every community is unique, so is every school. Community makeup dictates a school’s primary aim in serving its students. These factors can shift from district to district and city to city.

Attempting to apply a solution that may have worked in another district, city, state, or even another country could create unused space. While there’s nothing wrong with looking to other successful education spaces for inspiration, solutions should always be tailored to the specific needs of your school and student population.

3. Be considerate of your neighbors.

A school campus may be planted within a residential neighborhood or near other businesses and organizations. The footprint of the campus may impact daily life for the entire neighborhood, including things like traffic, lighting, and noise.

Consider how the school fits into the surrounding landscape and plan accordingly to minimize negative consequences. Also consider how the construction process—e.g. noise, dust, street closures—will affect surrounding residents and businesses.

4. Keep the community involved.

Just as you would update students, teachers, and parents about the project, plan for regular community progress updates. This is especially important when a referendum has been passed to make the project possible.

Post photos and updates to social media, start a project newsletter that anyone can subscribe to, provide updates at key community meetings. Give them a sense of ownership from start to finish, and make them feel like this building is theirs too.

It’s also important to give the community a method to provide feedback. Whether it is regularly scheduled committee meetings or a specific email inbox where they can direct their comments and questions, giving them an outlet to provide feedback will benefit both sides.

 

Learn More

Avoid unintended consequences of school construction projects on students and teachers, too.

How to Avoid Negative Impacts of School Construction Projects on Teachers

PART 2 IN A SERIES

Consider the effects of school renovations and new builds on teachers and other staff

 

Any design and construction work in your school is ultimately for the benefit of the students—to provide them with a better environment to learn and grow. But they aren’t the only ones who need to be considered when planning your new and improved facilities. Teachers are also incredibly important.

Here are a few ways you can avoid unintended consequences of the design and construction process on  teachers and staff.

1. Plan for teacher-dedicated spaces.

When budgets are tight and more space is needed for learning, teachers can end up being the ones who suffer. It is important that they retain their own space for prep work, collaboration with other teachers, and to decompress. They need a dedicated place to touch down and properly focus when the kids are dismissed.

Gathering spaces are important to provide a place where teachers can take a break, see the sun, and socialize with fellow faculty. This can help them recharge, as well as give them opportunities for casual interactions with their colleagues that can facilitate collaboration and creative thinking. And don’t forget: teachers need restrooms, too!

2. Don’t forget necessary meeting spots.

While your focus may be on learning and teacher prep spaces, don’t neglect other necessary room types. If teachers don’t have an assigned classroom or an office, they need to have somewhere to meet with students and parents. This should be a room with a door for private conversations. Small conference rooms can be useful for these meetings and a variety of other purposes.

Also think about where you will hold staff meetings and other committee and parent group gatherings. Having rooms the users can be proud of and that demonstrate the school’s mission can make them feel more valued. After all, no one likes meeting in the cafeteria.

3. Provide space for teachers to learn and utilize technology.

Teachers are being instructed to incorporate digital media heavily into their lesson plans, and they need the resources to do so. Students have grown up in an extremely digital world, and they can spot an unsavvy teacher a mile away.

Give teachers the resources to produce effective digital content. Consider a teacher-dedicated lab or creative studio, where they can access computers, video and audio equipment, and software. This allows them to become comfortable with and empowered by the technology.

4. Prevent surprises during construction.

Teachers are on the front lines with students, day in and day out. Keep them updated on the project so they can properly plan and answer student questions.

Incorporate construction updates and any relevant learnings from your construction project team meetings into staff meetings and other communications with teachers. Consider a dedicated place—whether it’s a page on your intranet or a bulletin board in a shared space—where you can post construction progress, photos, and any important changes that will impact class locations, schedules, or procedures.

Also encourage teachers to prepare for a move well in advance. If they will need to pack up their classroom or office to move to a new space, provide them with packing instructions and boxes several months in advance. Remember to highlight that this is the perfect time to toss, recycle, or donate anything they no longer need or use. The better prepared they can be for the move, the smoother it will go.

 

Learn More

Read part 1 in this series to learn how school construction impacts students.

How to Avoid Negative Impacts of School Construction Projects on Students

Students Studying

PART 1 IN A SERIES

Proper planning is critical to avoid unintended consequences of school construction for those who matter most—students.

Initiating a new school build or a significant renovation can be a lengthy process. Getting the project approved, perhaps passing a referendum, and determining the vision for your new or updated facilities is a lot of work.

This is ultimately all for the good of the students—to ensure their health and safety, improve their ability to learn, and give them tools for success. Even with good intentions, however, there can be unintended consequences of school construction projects that aren’t in the best interest of the kids.

That’s why it’s critical to put proper planning and consideration into every aspect of the project before a shovel ever hits the ground.

We’ve been designing K-12 schools for roughly 40 years, and we’ve seen it all. Here are a few key reminders we give to administrators to prevent negative impacts of school construction projects on students.

1. Don’t eliminate spaces that help to educate the whole child.

When budgets get tight, you may be tempted to cut some of the more non-traditional spaces in the school. These seem like luxuries. We need an adequate cafeteria; we don’t need “nooks” or green spaces.

When we talk about educating the whole child—creating an environment and providing opportunities that ensure every single child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged—this includes providing spaces that cater to the needs of every personality type and learning style.

In the planning and design process, be sure to address dedicated places for students to:

  • Take a quiet break
  • Discover their individual strengths or talents
  • Safely engage in physical activities
  • Utilize technology to its fullest potential

Also ensure students will be able to comfortably move throughout the school. For example, hallways should be large enough to accommodate busy passing periods and still have room for students to pull to the side to tie a shoe.

2. Make sure learning environments are the right size.

When you are trying to be efficient with dollars and square feet, there is a temptation to squeeze students into classrooms that are too small.

You must be realistic about the number of students that will—and should—be in each classroom, as well as how the classroom will be used and the subjects and types of activities that will be taught. Work closely with your design team to understand both anticipated class size (now and in the future) and the room’s purpose to create an adequate space for learning.

For example, science labs and other hands-on environments will have different space requirements than other types of rooms. Using classrooms and other spaces for their intended purpose is important for the success of your programming. It’s also why flexible classroom styles that can be adapted for the class at hand are preferred.

3. Be mindful of increased school security measures.

School security is top of mind for every parent, teacher, and administrator—as it should be. However, it shouldn’t have to be top of mind for students.

Part of what helps students be successful is a positive, welcoming, secure environment. In fact, it’s a biological requirement. The basic need of safety must be met before a child’s brain can focus on learning and building new connections. Obtrusive security measures can create the opposite effect, making students feel stressed about potential dangers.

Safety should be ingrained in the design of the facility so that it feels natural. There are many ways this can be achieved, such as creating clear lines of site throughout the building, choosing an appropriate security system, implementing sufficient lighting, and properly managing building access points.

4. Minimize distractions and risk during the construction process.

If you are renovating your current space, students and teachers will likely still be using portions of the facility. This means they may be near the construction work and all of the distractions that come along with it.

Make special effort to minimize the effects of the construction process on kids to maintain as much normalcy as possible, especially if standardized testing or other critical activities are occurring at the same time.

There are several primary areas to consider:

  • Wayfinding and Procedures – Make sure students (and their parents) are clear on room changes and other new procedures necessary during construction, and post adequate signage throughout the school to remind them. Install highly visible signs and implement barriers around construction zones to prevent students from entering these potentially dangerous areas and to guide them through route changes while their normal facilities are unavailable.
  • Noise – Loud noises during construction are unavoidable, and they can substantially interfere with students’ ability to concentrate, especially for those with sensory challenges. Noise can be quieted to a certain degree with construction protocols, such as installing temporary sound-absorbing barriers and using newer equipment that operates more quietly. Also try to schedule as much time away from noisy areas as possible for all groups of students (e.g. allow for classes to rotate through outdoor spaces or other places that are away from any construction).
  • Environmental Disturbances – Construction can also result in other environmental disturbances, such as smells and dust. Make sure teachers and parents understand that the construction team takes precautions to mitigate these factors and ensure no harmful impacts. If students express concerns about these disturbances, raise them with the contractor, who can help.

Planning the timeline and phases of the construction process appropriately is also key to avoiding or diminishing many of these disruptions. Some of the most intense or disruptive portions of the build should be scheduled during school breaks or outside of school hours when possible.

Learn More

Students aren’t the only ones to consider during school construction projects. There can be many unintended consequences for teachers, as well. Read part 2 in this series to learn more.

4 Tips for Adaptive Reuse in Higher Education

How to successfully expand your campus by repurposing old buildings

 

ISU Adaptive Reuse building

Former Post Office and Courthouse turned into the ISU Scott College of Business

 

Whether you have a building on campus that is sitting vacant, or you’re looking for a new space to expand into, adaptive reuse is an effective option for many higher education construction projects.

“Adaptive reuse” refers to giving an existing building—often a fairly old, historic one—a new purpose. It involves taking a space that used to serve one function, recycling it, and reusing it to serve a new function.

 

Why Reuse Old Buildings?

 

You can’t build new forever, which is why adaptive reuse is becoming increasingly popular—not only in higher education, but across all sectors. In fact, more than 90 percent of the future building inventory in the United States in 2025 already exists, according to the American Institute of Architecture. This means buildings we have today will need to be reused and repurposed in the future.

Adaptive reuse is a smart way to expand a campus for many reasons. It can reduce costs by using existing facilities instead of building brand new construction. It’s also the environmentally responsible choice, as it allows you to recycle structures and materials and avoid developing on new land.

If you’re repurposing a building already on your campus, adaptive reuse also helps preserve the heritage of your university or college by retaining original architecture. This ensures new spaces remain visually cohesive with the rest of campus.

Learn more about why adaptive reuse is important in today’s world. 

 

Successful Adaptive Reuse

 

While reusing old buildings has a lot of benefits, it also has its challenges. Unlike new construction, there will likely be unique hiccups that arise when opening up old buildings. If you go into the project for the right reasons and with the right mindset, the result will be a more meaningful space with historic charm.

Prepare for the process by keeping these keys to a successful adaptive reuse in mind:

1. Take advantage of the opportunities the building gives you.

The fun part of an adaptive reuse is figuring out how to reinvent the space for the needs of today. The obstacles of existing construction are what prompts innovative solutions. The building will give you natural opportunities to design creatively and think outside the box.

Can a leftover corner be turned into a study nook? Can an awkwardly placed stairwell be opened and made into an interesting new focal point? Take those opportunities to make the building memorable and unique to your campus.

2. Highlight historic character.

Not every old building is ornate and beautiful. If you are lucky enough to be adapting one that is, be careful not to erase those details that made the building what it was. As you revamp flow and function, look for characteristics you can preserve and blend with your new design.

When we transformed an old post office and courthouse into the Scott College of Business at Indiana State University, we reconfigured and adapted the building to the needs of a modern business program, but we retained the historic details that gave it character. We kept the post office’s old mailboxes, made the bank teller windows peer into the new classrooms, and rewired and fully restored the two-story federal courtroom to its original glory for large group functions.

ISU Adaptive Reuse

ISU Scott College of Business

3. Be honest about what you need.

Adaptive reuse requires you to reimagine what your space could be. This often means tossing out old ideas of what you think you need. It also means carefully integrating modern amenities and building systems that don’t compete with the historic architecture.

However, the ultimate goal is to create a space that functions well for your program. Be honest about what that means. Some spaces may not work for a specific function, no matter how hard you try. This doesn’t mean you have to demolish the building. You might just need to think outside its four walls.

When we transformed the old St. Vincent Hospital into the Ivy Tech Illinois Fall Creek Center, we knew retaining the recognizable patient wings and their facades would be important. They were iconic to the surrounding community. However, those wings weren’t an appropriate size for classrooms. Instead, we made them into administrative offices and built additions for the new learning spaces. We carefully juxtaposed the 1913 architecture with new modern lines, and a one-of-a-kind education facility was born.

Old St. Vincent turned into Ivy Tech Fall Creek

Before and After of Ivy Tech Illinois Fall Creek Center

4. Involve the right stakeholders.

One of the most important parts of successful adaptive reuse has nothing to do with the building. The project can only work if the right people are at the table.

Think about everyone who is tied to the space:

  • If the building was not previously part of one of your campuses, make sure you talk with the surrounding community. Understand what the building means to them, and what their hopes are for it.
  • Get insights from the building’s previous tenant/owner; they know it best.
  • If necessary, involve the Historic Preservation Office early.
  • Make sure key faculty and student groups have a say in the process.

When everyone understands the goal of rejuvenating an old space—and can help inform the end product—the result is a more integrated, effective design.

 

Want to know more about pursuing an adaptive reuse project? Contact our architects and engineers.

Schmidt Associates Gains 9 Spots on List of Top 300 Architecture Firms

Schmidt Associates is proud to be named to Architectural Record’s 2019 Top 300 list. The firm earned the 195th spot on this year’s list, moving up nine spots from last year.

The annual national list, compiled by Architectural Record’s sister publication Engineering News-Record, ranks companies by their architectural revenue from the prior year, as reported by firms that choose to participate.

In 2018, Schmidt experienced significant growth not only in terms of revenue, but also in staff size, seeing a 12-percent increase in total employees.

See below for a sneak peek at a few of the significant projects we started in 2018 (all still underway).

Hammond Middle High School

Location: Hammond, IN
Project: Renovation and New Construction
Cost: $80M

 

City of Indianapolis Consolidated Civil and Criminal Courthouse

Location: Indianapolis, IN
Project: New Construction
Cost: $160M

City of Indianapolis Consolidated Civil and Criminal Courthouse

City of Indianapolis Consolidated Civil and Criminal Courthouse

City of Indianapolis Consolidated Civil and Criminal Courthouse

City of Indianapolis Consolidated Civil and Criminal Courthouse

 

North Montgomery Elementary School

Location: Crawfordsville, IN
Project: Renovation
Cost: $30 million

North Montgomery - Main Entry

North Montgomery – Main Entry

North Montgomery - Media Center

North Montgomery – Media Center

Mass Ave Isn’t What It Used to Be: Urban Revitalization in Indianapolis

Years of redevelopment and steadfast anchor institutions are to thank for the Mass Ave we know and love.

 

Did you know that MacNiven’s used to be a biker bar? Maybe you noticed the original “Sears, Roebuck and Company” still etched into the west side of Needler’s Fresh Market at the corner of Alabama and Vermont Streets. Even the buildings that make up the Schmidt Associates’ office have been everything from a paint and wallpaper store to a coffee shop and restaurant.

Massachusetts Avenue—affectionately called Mass Ave or the Avenue by most—has been in constant transformation. New restaurants seem to pop up daily, and recent (and ongoing) new construction is making more room for apartments, offices and entertainment options.

This intimate downtown stretch didn’t always look the way it does now. In fact, it was once considered somewhat of a “red light district,” a seedy stretch you wouldn’t want to take selfies in front of.

Over the past four decades or so, the landscape of this downtown thoroughfare has changed dramatically, making it a prime example of urban revitalization. After years of redevelopment, the Mass Ave neighborhood eventually became the cultural hub that it is today.

 

A Brief History of Mass Ave

The footprint of Indianapolis was designed by Alexander Ralston (yes, Ralston’s DraftHouse is named after him), who also laid out the streets of Washington, D.C.

Like D.C., Indianapolis has several diagonal roads that sprout out from Monument Circle. Mass Ave is one of them, making it—at one time—a major artery connecting the commercial downtown and residential outskirts of the city.

Mass Ave Revitalization 1906

Mass Ave circa 1906 (Photo Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

Between about 1940 and 1960, a mass migration from cities to suburbs occurred across the U.S. Approximately 40 million people abandoned the hustle and bustle of downtowns in favor of quiet suburban streets. These suburbs started to become self-contained, with their own shops, schools, and police departments. Indianapolis was no exception.

The construction of the interstate, which cut directly through Mass Ave, in the 1970s fueled this exodus of city dwellers, giving them an easy way to travel back downtown when necessary.

By the late 1970s, when Schmidt Associates moved into the Hammond Block at 301 Massachusetts Ave., the view down the Avenue was bleak. There were many boarded up buildings, and the open businesses were far from the trendy boutiques and restaurants we see now.

Mass Ave Revitalization 1970s

Mass Ave Circa 1970s

With our offices perched at the starting point of the street, our firm had a unique position and ability to take part in the revitalization of Mass Ave. We’ve made our humble mark along the Avenue over the years—from our work on the Stout’s Shoes building in the 1980s, to our office’s move to our current home at 415 Massachusetts Ave. (right image above), to the completion of the new Penrose on Mass building in 2018. And both our leadership and staff have been committed to this revitalization through active participation with local non-profits and community engagement.

No single person or organization could have made this significant transformation. A powerful combination of support from community and economic development organizations, private businesses, and federal tax credits for revitalization of historic buildings helped bring new life to Mass Ave.

However, none of these efforts would have been sustainable without another important player: the anchor institution.

 

Anchor Institutions Leading the Charge

An anchor institution is a place that holds influence in a city or other geographic area. It quite literally “anchors” the area by helping to provide a point of stability that attracts residents and other businesses.

Often, we think of a university, the headquarters of a major corporation, a professional sports stadium, or a hospital as an anchor institution in a city. These companies give meaning to an area, providing jobs and spurring new housing developments, commercial business, and more. Each neighborhood within a city can have its own, smaller anchors, as well.

Mass Ave would not be the place it is today without the anchor institutions that established it as a destination neighborhood in Indianapolis. Here are a few we have to thank:

 

The Athenaeum

Mass Ave Revitalization 1910

Athenaeum Circa 1910 (Photo Courtesy of the Athenaeum Foundation)

The Athenaeum was designed by Bernard Vonnegut (Kurt Vonnegut’s grandfather) and was built in phases between 1893 and 1898. It was envisioned as a “house of culture for the mind and body,” according to the Athenaeum Foundation. True to that purpose, it has played host to countless theater productions, public speeches, and other community gatherings and celebrations.

The building was also once home to the Normal College of the North American Gymnastic Union and held gymnastics trainings. This made it a perfect fit for the YMCA, which moved in in 1992. And of course, the Rathskeller, Indianapolis’ oldest restaurant still in operation, opened in the Athenaeum’s basement in 1894.

Today, the Athenaeum building remains a cultural focal point. It has a coffee shop with a large working/meeting space, the Rathskeller beer garden and outdoor concert venue, and various office and performance spaces for art and education organizations.

 

Circle City Industrial Complex

Mass Ave Revitalization 1930s

Schwitzer Cummins Co., Circa 1930s (Photo Courtesy of Circle City Industrial Complex)

Built in the early 1920s, the building that is now the Circle City Industrial Complex (CCIC) provides an anchor further northeast on Mass Ave. It was originally home to the Schwitzer Cummins Corporation automotive plant. The plant was part of the booming auto industry in Indianapolis and across the country.

While the interstate now divides Mass Ave just before you get to CCIC, the campus remains an anchor in the area, known as the Mass Ave Industrial Corridor. CCIC is currently being redeveloped, in large part due to efforts of the Riley Area Redevelopment Corporation, which is also responsible for much of the public art along Mass Ave, as well as affordable housing and other economic development efforts. The former factory building is now home to a variety of artisans and makers, non-profits, and other businesses.

 

The Murat

Mass Ave Revitalization 1900s

Murat Theatre Circa 1900s (Photo Courtesy of the Murat Shriners)

Now named Old National Centre, the Murat Theatre was completed in 1910 by a group called the Murat Shriners. The Shriners were members of a secret society called the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. The temple served as a ceremony and meeting place for decades and is still under ownership of the Shriners.

In 1995, Live Nation became a tenant of the theater, bringing big-name live shows and concerts to Mass Ave. This was, and continues to be, a significant driver in attracting new restaurants and bars to satisfy event-goers before and after shows.

 

The Future on Mass Ave

It has taken decades for development on Mass Ave to elevate to its current state. Every decade since the late 1970s has brought about its own hallmark projects along the Avenue.

Today, Mass Ave has something of significance on almost every block. And there’s more to come, like the in-progress Bottleworks building, which is an adaptive reuse of the historic Coca-Cola Bottling Plant. The project includes the Avenue’s first hotel, plus unique retail and gathering spaces, which will bring more activity to the northeast end of the street.

While most large parcels of land are now occupied, there are some gaps to fill in and opportunities to build north and south of the strip. As development continues, it’s important that we remember to preserve the organic and intimate character of Mass Ave.

When you walk down the street, you see pockets of new construction, but you mostly see a lot of old buildings—a blend of architectural styles from over the years, most no more than five or six stories tall. Those strong, old bones are still here, but they’ve been given new life and purpose. That is what revitalization is all about.

What I Learned at My First NeoCon

NeoCon Wall Quote

 

Ask any commercial interior designer what the biggest industry event of the year is, and they’ll have the same answer – NeoCon. In its 51st year, NeoCon is considered the most important annual event for the commercial design industry that influences the trends and aesthetics of the built environment. This three-day extravaganza brings the world’s leading manufacturers, dealers, architects, and design professionals together at the historic ­– and massive – Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago.  

 

Merchandise Mart at NeoCon

Merchandise Mart – Photo Courtesy of NeoCon

 

Fun fact: The Mart is so large it has its very own zip code.

This year marked my first time attending NeoCon. Although slightly overwhelming at first, due to the sheer size of The Mart and the staggering number of people, it was a phenomenal experience.

As far as interior design trends are concerned, I would summarize this year’s NeoCon showing in three words: color, pattern and comfort.

 

1. Color

Across the board, we saw an expansion in color palettes for flooring, wall coverings, textiles, and furniture. Blush, or dare I say mauve, was among the most popular colors introduced into new collections. Usually, this color was paired with a darker green to contrast.

In furniture, we saw color introduced in several ways, but the most interesting and trendy method was colored wood. Manufacturers offered this wood in an array of hues, using an opaque stain that allowed the natural grain and texture of the wood to show through to make for stunning pieces.

 

NeoCon - Color

2. Pattern

New textiles are always exciting to see, and this year there was an abundance of large-scale, geometric patterns, and stripes and plaids made a comeback. Blush, mustard yellow, and hunter green were among the most prominent colors in the new styles. Heavy textures like raised and embossed processed were common in the textile showrooms. Privacy curtains were also given new life with fresh patterns and color palettes.

We also saw a distinct flooring trend incorporating abstract, artistic patterns (think paint splatters and brush strokes), as well as the geometrics we saw elsewhere. Color palettes included neutral on neutral with an emphasis on texture, solids offered in nearly every color of the rainbow, and neutrals with pops of bright colors.

 

NeoCon - Pattern

3. Comfort

There was also a lot of emphasis on ergonomics and comfort in furniture design. Even lounge furniture was slightly increased in scale to offer extra cushion and a stronger resemblance to residential furniture.

My favorite showroom hands-down was Hightower. Hightower specializes in the manufacturing of furniture, and their showroom emphasized comfort and high style. They exhibited fully furnished settings ranging from lounge, small meeting areas, café-style seating, private nooks, and bar seating, utilizing a mostly neutral and pastel color palette.

 

NeoCon - Hightower

 

I think it’s safe to say our group of interior designers had a great time in the Merchandise Mart and can’t wait for NeoCon 2020!

 

NeoCon Group

 

If you are interested in seeing how we can implement some of these trends into your designs, reach out to us.

The Effects of Natural Daylight

Daylight - Marian University

It’s not a secret — it is scientifically proven that we, as humans, thrive best when we have access to sunlight. If you are having a long and stressful day at work, a walk around the block is a good way to clear the mind. Restaurants with outdoor seating tend to be packed during those sunny, 75-degree days. Homes typically include large living room windows that allow sunlight to coming flooding in.

When designing for an academic space, whether K-12 or higher education, keeping this biophilic factor in mind is essential in producing an effective learning environment.

Design considerations:

  • Include large, floor to ceiling windows in common spaces like cafeterias/dining halls, library and media centers, hallways on the upper level floor, etc.
Daylighting - media center and dining hall

Left: West Lafayette Intermediate School Media Center | Right: Marian University Dining Hall

  • Utilize glass walls between interior spaces adjacent to a room or hallway that includes plenty of windows. To add privacy, use clearstory windows or semi-transparent glass that will allow light to pass from space to space.
Daylight - expandable walls

Clark Middle School – Expandable glass walls between classroom and hallway let light flow throughout a large space

  • High, small, frosted windows in gyms/fieldhouses allow natural light to come into the space without resulting in glare on the court. Include windows near cardio machines in campus’ fitness center to give runners a little sense of being outdoors.
Daylight in gym and fitness center

Left: Plainfield High School Fieldhouse | Right: DePauw University Lilly Center

  • Residence hall bedrooms can feel a little tight and stuffy to students, but providing large windows for daylight to spill throughout common areas will help give them a sense of relief.
Daylight residence hall

Left: University of Indianapolis – Greyhound Village | Right: Ball State University – Schmidt/Wilson Residence Hall

  • The second-best option is LED lighting if a space is limited in natural light potential. Sunlight and full-spectrum LEDs expose people to blue light wavelengths, which has a positive impact on our hormonal levels compared to other lighting systems.
Daylight - LED lighting

Before & After LED Retrofit at Bunker Hill Elementary

 

Benefits of natural daylight:

  • Positively impacts cognitive performance, resulting in better test results, information retention, and productivity levels. The U.S. Department of Education states that classrooms with the most daylighting saw a 20% better learning rate in math and 26% better in reading when compared to classrooms with little to no daylight.
  • Sunlight increases levels of serotonin in the brain, which leads to improved moods and overall mental health of students.
  • Daylight helps regulate circadian rhythms, reducing stress and enhancing the brain’s readiness to learn.
  • Provides opportunity for sensory change, giving students a mental break from what’s going on in the classroom. These short mental breaks help students stay focused and motivated. It is proven that the opportunity to interact with the natural world is particularly helpful to kids with ADD/ADHD, which effects an estimated 1 million children.

Introducing natural daylight into schools for maximum benefits needs to be done in a controlled and responsive manner. Proper building orientation means maximizing southern and northern exposures and minimizing east and west exposures. Worried about the energy costs and thermal comfort issues that come along with a wall full of windows? This is the importance of engineers to help design with tools for energy savings. Exterior shading devices, elements that push daylight deeper into the building, and proper interior window treatments can be incorporated.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can incorporate natural daylight into your existing space or your next projects – give us a call!

Designing for Generation Z

Generation Z, the 60-some million young people born between the late 1990s and early 2000s, are the most diverse group in our country’s history.

They grew up during times of recessions and financial crises, war and terror threats, and technology overload. Many of them knew how to operate a tablet or cellphone before they could put sentences together. They don’t remember a life without social media and spend up to nine hours a day consuming media. They have a rather short attention span and it can difficult to keep them engaged. In the next ten years, it is estimated that Gen Z will consist of 22% of the workforce and many will be working in jobs that don’t even exist yet.

Generation Z Workforce Percentage

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Gen Z workers are more competitive and pragmatic, but also more anxious and reserved, than millennials, the generation of 72 million born from 1981 to 1996, according to executives, managers, generational consultants and multidecade studies of young people.”

Learning how to design for Generation Z will be essential in the longevity of our communities, facilities, and workplaces. So what design features will help attract and retain this large cohort?

Choice and Input

It’s easy: let them be a part of the design process, ask them to give input on what they want and expect, and then simply listen to what they have to say. One of the easiest ways to connect with this generation is through making them feel like their voices are heard. Designers can bring them idea starters and guidelines to get conversation going but try to immerse yourself into their world if you want a truly successful project. You can do this through focus groups, community engagement events, social media polls, and project blogs/websites.

Of special note, long-term choice is essential. Design should allow for variation over the life of a building, allowing the space to be tailored to each user’s preferences:

  • Robust power – consider a raised floor
  • Expansive wi-fi
  • Furniture that is movable – think everything on wheels, closable pods, and sitting/standing desks
Technology-Rich Spaces

As the baby boomers are retiring and Gen Z starts to fill in the gaps, technology will follow them. The places they live, work, and play need to reflect a lifestyle they are accustomed to: attached to hand-held supercomputers which provide instant communication with others. This diverse and mobile group will crave a digital connection to the world. In terms of the workplace, an office setting should include technology that will seamlessly allow staff to work from home (or a coffee shop across the world) but also enhanced video conferencing from anywhere. With good lighting and acoustics along with the ability to easily share documents and control, the office can be anywhere.

As designers, we need to think of technology that will help the facilities operate longer yet efficiently. Because Gen Z is predicted to put in a lot of hours in the office, the building systems will need to run differently than the regular 8-5pm. Allowing small spaces to be controlled and operated as needed without requiring the entire facility to be in operation will result in lower energy costs.

Flexibility

This generation works really hard, but they want some playtime as well. If you are going to create a flexible work environment, including staff who work remotely, creating a gathering space is essential for retention and overall job satisfaction. One design idea is to create a comfortable commons area filled with homey furniture, a coffee bar, and plenty of natural light. This type of space will allow Gen Z workers to take a brain break and socialize before getting back to the grind. Filling a space with familiar furniture pieces will ease anxiety and gives everyone a space to feel connected to peers.

We don’t all work the same, and an office won’t likely be comprised solely of Gen Z’ers. Design a workplace that has multiple types of rooms with varying functionality and privacy. If you can handle working in an open concept area, great! If you also need to get away from the hustle and bustle to really concentrate, great! If you need that ability to meet with a couple team members for a quick collaboration session away from your desks, great! If you need to meet with several people from around the office and need a more formal setting with technology, that’s great too!

Genuine Feel

This is a big one to keep in mind when you are looking to put your roots down for a new project. This generation gravitates toward places, people, and things that feel real, predictable, and safe. If you are wanting to attract and retain the Generation Z population, start by looking for a location that has its own sense of culture. Your building or space should come from and build on its history and the community naturally. Furthermore, your space should promote general well-being for users. Historic areas and neighborhoods are a big hit with this generation, leaving a lot of good potential for adaptive reuse projects. Staying true to the story makes the work resonate – do not to cut out the charm of the old while designing the new. The pre-packaged, Instagram filter world has ended, and Generation Z is seeking a genuine experience.

Choosing a location that is walkable and bikeable with nearby restaurants and attractions, grocery stores, and hotels will draw in more people. This goes for any type of building in the urban mix, from office space to apartments to mixed-use developments.

Once you have a location, make sure to include biophilic design features that promote happiness and health. Generation Z is very conscious of their mental and physical health—promoting that connection back to nature within a building will relate well with those users.

Inclusivity

Generation Z is a beautiful ethnically-diverse population, which is important to keep in mind when designing communities and buildings for them. Not everyone experiences a space the same, in part due to their culture and all that comes along with their unique backgrounds. Connecting back to “choice and input”, you will get the information that you need to ensure a space is inclusive if Gen Z’ers are included in the process.

 

It is time to prepare and adapt for future generations, allowing their influences to permeate through the built environment to stay relevant and competitive in the world. We should admire and enhance their creativity, empathetic attitudes, desire to feel connection, and heads-down work mentality with the spaces we provide. With the help of Generation Z, we should create communities and spaces that harness that same energy and drive toward success. If you want to more specifics on how to design for Gen Z, give us a call!