Tag Archives: Gensler

The C3 office building, in Los Angeles, was re-imagined by Gensler to include more "front doors" for suites, which are depicted by the colorful stairways on the building's exterior.

Office Mate: The creative endgame for functional obsolescence

Forget the corner office. These days, it’s about the coffee shop around the corner, the food trucks outside the lobby, the light rail that passes an office building every 15 minutes.

The work place is all about the worker. Employee and entrepreneur are synonymous. Human resource departments are working in concert with building owners, managers, developers and brokers.

Employee demographics are spanning radically different generations with equally varied needs for a work-life balance. These are all observations shared by industry experts, from international architecture, design and planning firm Gensler, to brokerage houses and developers in the Phoenix Metro.

About a decade ago, traditional offices began to open up for collaborative space. Since then, office environments have contracted around the remote worker and many other trends that ultimately call for very specific, versatile influenced by a company’s DNA. A demand for trendy, compact work environments that encourage collaboration, focus, creativity and accommodates mobility has led to many new speculative and build-to-suit office developments tailored to an end-user’s needs. This is all while vacancy rates in the market hover around 25 percent.

However, many experts say this statistic is misleading. It’s weighed down by the many office buildings constructed in the ’80s or earlier that are structurally — and aesthetically — outdated.

Courtesy of Cassidy Turley

Courtesy of Cassidy Turley

THE OBSOLETE
As Cassidy Turley’s head of research, Zach Aulick, puts it: “functional obsolescence” are the buzzwords of 2014.

Aulick cites Rockefeller Group Vice President and Regional Director Mark Singerman’s assessment at a Bisnow event that vacancy rates in the market were much lower, by about 5 to 7 percent, without including obsolete buildings. Aulick, prompted by such buzzings and the news that speculative and build-to-suit development was happening despite vacancy rates higher than 20 percent, looked into the functional obsolescence among office properties in the Phoenix Metro and found that Singerman was right.

Net absorption of office buildings constructed after 1990, Aulick reports, accounted for 4.4MSF in 1Q 2014. In that same period of time, buildings completed prior to 1990 were reportedly declining in about 320KSF and 200KSF in 1Q and 2Q, respectively. The major contributors or obsolete space is parking ratios and floor plate size.

Midtown, Aulick says, is perhaps one of the hardest hit areas with 10MSF of office and an average age falling pre-‘90s. That area’s options are limited by available space. It takes entrepreneurship, says Cassidy Turley’s Vice President of Marketing Alison Melnychenko, to recognize the highest and best use for the land on which an obsolete building sits.

GETTING IN THE GAME
If an owner isn’t going to sit back on 80 percent occupancy, there are a few options that could raise the appeal of an outdated building. The first move is to retrofit a space — tear out floors or half floors to make higher ceilings. That can be costly and reduces overall volume. The other option is to add to the building’s function. For instance, the Freeport McMoran Center in downtown Phoenix had high user demand for parking. It was turned into a Westin hotel. Buildings along Central Avenue have been converted into apartments and condos — a trend CBRE Senior Vice President of Office Services Bryan Taute says will likely continue.

Retail and industrial buildings are sometimes flipped into office spaces, given the parking issue can be solved. This is more popular in areas such as Midtown or near the airport.
“I think Midtown has the potential to figure a way out of (obsolescence),” says Taute. “If building owners are willing to sell them to new owners with capital to give creative funky ideas. I’m a big believer in mass transit and infill.”

The general idea among people is that Phoenix won’t pay for that kind of re-activated space. But there is more enthusiasm than meets the eye, says Gensler Principal Beth Harmon-Vaughan. Brokers, developers, business owners, she says, see the potential and there are a handful of undisclosed projects in the pipeline on which Gensler is already working.

This call center space features a blue webbing on the beiling as a navigational tool that unites a uniuqe 75KSF floorplate.

This call center space features a blue webbing on the beiling as a navigational tool that unites a uniuqe 75KSF floorplate.

On a local level, a call center space built in an old Motorola manufacturing facility was designed by Gensler to “control the churn” of the company’s employees who go through 12 weeks of extensive training. The existing building’s unique floor plate led Gensler to use a blue webbing on the ceiling as a navigational tool that brings the 75KSF area together.

The call center is proof that these trendy spaces aren’t just for software and video gaming companies either. Real estate offices such as CBRE in Los Angeles have adopted these new space use trends, and Gensler says more professional and traditionally staunch companies such as law firms are coming onboard.

CBRE’s office in L.A., co-developed with Gensler, has a “free-address” system of office space use, often called “hot desking,” which can be reserved for individual use during certain times.

Despite the increase in remote work, companies still want employees to come to the office. Whether its the highly crafted informality of a Quicksilver office’s mix-matched meeting chairs in a windowless warehouse or the raw floors, pet amenities and employee-generated wall art at Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, the younger generation is revolutionizing office space.

Other trends include authenticity – designing the DNA of a company into its office spaces – and having a “front door” instead of anonymous-feeling lobbies. Gensler’s design of Los Angeles’ C3, for example, achieves a “front door” feel through colorful exterior stairwells to upper-story suites.

Phoenix may not be on that level, but change is coming — even to the ’80s-heavy areas of Midtown.

Mod turned a re-purposed Midtown lobby constructed in 1985 into a co-op office space that helps keep the building's outdated features from making it obsolete.

Mod turned a re-purposed Midtown lobby constructed in 1985 into a co-op office space that helps keep the building’s outdated features from making it obsolete.

It just takes a drive down Central Avenue to see the buildings in need of change. The Class-B high-rise at 2828 N. Central Avenue was built in 1985 and offers the typical functionally obsolete issues, parking ratios and small floor plates, explains Aulick. However, it was a building that — with a little renovation — could be turned into the headquarters for the co-op workspace known as “mod on Central.” It’s stylized as a hotel, features a cafe and is a public workspace for remote employees that, as Lynita Johnson, of Olson Communications says, are looking for somewhere that’s “never boring or beige.”

“It’s the way you want to work, because it’s the way you like to live,” she says of the development. Finance and law firms are among the next wave of industries adopting the new kind of office space. Old, dated, standard offices such as Rose Law Group’s former eight-year residence has transitioned into a high-tech, smart, fun, sleek and creative space in Old Town Scottsdale, near a cultural hub of restaurants.

Rose Law Group’s employees skew “young and energetic,” says Jordan Rose, founder of Rose Law Group. “We are 85 percent below the age of 40.” “If we weren’t locked into our old lease we would have been the first to the open floor plan party at least six years ago,” says Rose. “We knew as soon as we moved into the old space that we needed a more collaborative atmosphere that would only be achieved through design.

That said, traditionally law firms are not known as hot beds of creative thought and collaboration. We have a bit of a different model in that we employ lawyers and non-lawyer planners, MBAs, project managers and energy consultants who can help shape the ultimate advice we provide our clients. Sometimes legal advice in a box is just really bad for a client’s bottom line.”
Non-traditional changes include minimizing the firm’s waiting room area, meant to remind the team that clients shouldn’t wait long to see their attorney.

Conference rooms and open space areas are named after employees and balconies that can be used to host meetings. Offices are centered around a park space where people can eat lunch. There are also a few old, full-sized arcade games.

ELBOW ROOM
As space allotted per employee continues to drop to about 167 SF per person — down nearly 100 SF in the last few years, with CoreNet Global estimating a further drop to 151 SF by 2017 — developers are tasked with finding ways to make the workplace more enjoyable. Right now, that looks like raising the roof (or, rather, knocking out floors in high-rises). Floor-to-floor heights in buildings constructed in previous decades have been about 13.5 feet. Now, says Sven Tustin, vice president of development and investment for Trammell Crow, they’re about 15 to 16 feet floor-to-floor.

While eight-foot ceilings won’t make an office building obsolete, Taute says a space will be more challenging to sell and demand a lower rental rate than an office with higher ceilings. Buildings with lower parking ratios typically see leasing 80 percent of its space as success.

Tustin has seen some significant repurposing happen in southern California, most recently at Playa Vista, a former Howard Hughes hangar that received a $50M makeover that includes an office campus for media, entertainment and tech firms.

“There’s an authentic experience to be had,” says Tustin. “In Phoenix, it’s a little more challenging. Our office employment is a little less creatively geared and more focused on labor.”
Midtown is the only submarket that has experienced negative absorption over the last decade, thanks to the light rail, amenities and the right neighborhood.

“The trick,” says Tustin, “is buying those buildings cheap enough. “We’ve explored a lot of new developments for infill. We’ve been promoting this initiative quite a bit and one thing we’ve been concerned with is our flight of the younger demographics who view places as more fun.”

Trammell Crow has challenged itself to create a project that could be just as fun, though not as extreme, as Playa Vista. Also, Phoenix doesn’t boast a lot of old warehouses, notes Taute.

Trammell Crow is working on a 200KSF project at Cooper Road and Loop 202 that’s a two-story tilt-up office building with 50KSF floor plates and 16-foot, floor-to-floor heights. The building, he says, targets software and financial service companies. Trammell Crow is focused on creating “the arrival experience” with escape areas, shade structures and “the small things.”

“Developers have probably emphasized aesthetics more than the experience of a building,” says Tustin. “I think it’s worth reallocating the investment toward the employee.” zThis is where Millennials come in.

“From my perspective, it’s a lot more fun because in Phoenix it has always been about price and the things that create it as a commodity,” says Taute. “Now, the office space is being looked at as an attraction tool, which means people are willing to spend more money. If they can get the rents, to make cool office space…All of those things are good for our city. The longevity is better than cookie cutter office buildings.”

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RED AWARDS 2014: Merit for Iconic Development

On Feb. 26, AZRE hosted the 9th Annual RED Awards reception at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix to recognize the most notable commercial real estate projects of 2013 and the construction teams involved. AZRE held an open call for nominations and more than 100 projects were submitted by architects, contractors, developers and brokerage firms in Arizona. Click here to view all 2014 RED Awards Winners.‎


Manzanita Hall
Developer: American Campus Communities
Contractor: hardison/downey construction
Architect: Studio Ma
Size: 218,000 SF
Location: 600 E. University Dr.
Completed: October 2013

manzyThis merit award winner can be appreciated by all the locals who have had generations of their families get the Sun Devil experience among the halls of this dormitory…To add to its local significance, this building also happens to serve as an underground pull box that feeds utilities from an underground tunnel system to ASU’s public safety and IT departments as well as the State DPS radio loop.


Honorable Mention:
Melrose Gateway Monument
Developer: City of Phoenix
General Contractor: Weitz
Architect: Gensler

Gensler_City of Phoenix_Melrose Final Rendering_night The 80-foot steel Melrose Gateway Monument, arched above the threshold of the Melrose Neighborhood District in central Phoenix, was fully fabricated and constructed in Phoenix. The steel was made from recycled content, its design abstracted from an organic floral pattern that strives to give a brand identity to the mid-century modern influences apparent in the neighborhood and its businesses.

red-header-2014

RED AWARDS 2014: Best Tenant Improvement Project

On Feb. 26, AZRE hosted the 9th Annual RED Awards reception at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix to recognize the most notable commercial real estate projects of 2013 and the construction teams involved. AZRE held an open call for nominations and more than 100 projects were submitted by architects, contractors, developers and brokerage firms in Arizona. Click here to view all 2014 RED Awards Winners.‎


Fennemore Craig
Developer: Fennemore Craig
Contractor: Ryan Companies
Architect: Gensler
Brokerage: CBRE
Size: 120,000 SF
Location: 2394 E. Camelback Rd., Ste. 600, Phoenix
Completed: February 2013

fennemore-craigAfter 12 years as a midtown Phoenix law firm, favorable market conditions encouraged Fennemore Craig to make a move to the dynamic and amenity-rich Camelback Corridor, taking the opportunity optimize space by decreasing its overall square footage by approximately 20 percent. The reduction in square footage was accomplished through careful curtailment of file storage and secretary-to-attorney ratios, and the design of destination locations with dual uses in client-facing areas. Given the size and atypical floor plate of the building selected, the project became a planning and efficiency challenge. Rather than segregating the angularity of the exterior glass wall, the client chose instead to celebrate it. Navigating shifting budget priorities and constraints, the team utilized lower-cost systems furniture in secretary stations, reused attorney office furniture from the firm’s existing location, and simplified attorney wall elevations. The end result of this challenging project is a flexible space home to Fennemore Craig’s clients and colleagues, as well as an inviting location for community, social and charitable events.

Gensler_HartDawn_color, WEB

Dawn Hart Joins Gensler

Gensler announced Dawn Hart has joined the design firm’s Phoenix office as an interior design project manager.
Hart brings more than 25 years experience in the Phoenix metropolitan area to her new role at Gensler, with demonstrated leadership in managing interiors projects for both public and private clients.
“Highly valued for her leadership, Dawn brings outstanding relationships with clients, a commitment to design and technical excellence, as well as high-quality service delivery to our team.” says Beth Harmon-Vaughan, managing principal of Gensler’s Phoenix office.
Prior to joining Gensler, Hart managed projects and the interior architecture team at the Phoenix office of AECOM. Over the past three decades Hart has led projects for corporations, financial services firms, justice facilities and higher education institutions.
“Phoenix is my home, and nothing pleases me more than to become part of moving Phoenix forward.” says Dawn Hart. “The future of design is being lead by Gensler, in Phoenix and across the globe, and I am honored to work with such a tremendous group of professionals.”
Hart is a registered architect and a United States Green Building Council LEED Accredited Professional. Hart graduated with a Masters of Architecture from the University of Wisconsin, where she also earned a Bachelors of Science in Architectural Studies.
Gensler has a long standing presence in Phoenix and a celebrated reputation for design excellence. As the recipient of 25 recent design awards, including those from the International Interior Design Association and the American Institute of Architects, Gensler’s Phoenix office is home to 42 passionate professionals dedicated to design innovation.

 

EPPH_Silverberg_Jay, WEB

A Glimpse Into 2013 AIA Arizona Awards Chair Jay Silverberg

Jay Silverberg, AIA
Principal | Design Director with Gensler
2013 AIA Arizona Design Awards Chair

What kind of design trends or innovations did you see in this year’s submissions?
This year’s submissions were highly contextual to our desert environment and regional in their response. Thoughtful use of material, site position and  shade to develop indoor/outdoor programs was very creative. I believe the integration of innovative social and interactive spaces was a predominant theme in a number of the award-winning designs.

In what ways do you think the market affected this year’s designs – for better or worse?
Our challenging economic climate led to a decrease in the number of overall submissions received by the AIA this year. With a limited number of  projects in the market, Arizona architects rose to the challenge to deliver creative solutions for clients, oftentimes within challenging parameters. We saw more projects on the public side versus private, and the market driving design trends including more multi-purpose and flexible spaces, renovations and sustainable solutions to extend the life of existing building assets.

In what way did your Awards Chair role affect how you appraise Gensler’s work?
Gensler as a firm is always pushing the limits of integrating user experience with the built environment. Reviewing the amazing work being done by Arizona architects is truly inspirational; it pushes us to do better work.

Gensler__Melrose Final Rendering_CUT

Melrose Gateway Sign Installation Commemoration Nov. 20

District 4 Councilman Tom Simplot and community members will celebrate the installation of a new gateway arch across Seventh Avenue just north of Indian School Road with an event 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20.

“The Melrose District and Seventh Avenue as a whole are two of the most vibrant, growing areas of central Phoenix. It’s an artistic and community hub, and this gateway is a perfect way to celebrate its diverse identity,” said Councilman Simplot.

The arch adds a distinctive artistic element to one of Phoenix’s main arterial streets, constructed using an 80-foot steel truss structure with 24-foot columns.  Lit at night, the sign lettering mirrors Seventh Avenue’s distinctive curve in the Melrose district.

“Business owners and community members are ecstatic about the arch,” added Seventh Avenue Merchants Association president Teresa Stickler.  “We really see it as aiding our mission of building and beautifying our community.”

The Melrose arch is made of half-inch steel plates, with decorative lettering etched in using a plasma cutter.  All together, the truss and panels weigh approximately 43,000 pounds, with each column weighing 9,800 pounds.

The Weitz Company was the contractor for the project, with Gensler as the prime consultant and architect, and the firms of Aztec Engineering Group, Inc; PK Associates and Henderson Engineers serving as the design team.

Doug Sydnor, Gensler

Douglas Sydnor Joins Gensler

Gensler announced Douglas B. Sydnor will join the design firm as a senior architect in the company’s Phoenix office, starting on Nov. 11.

Sydnor brings more than 35 years experience in the Phoenix metropolitan area to his new role, with demonstrated leadership in the full spectrum of architectural and urban design.

“We are thrilled that Doug will be joining the Gensler team,” says Beth Harmon-Vaughan, Gensler Phoenix managing principal. “His outstanding portfolio, leadership and influence in our market will be a fantastic addition to our region.”

Prior to joining Gensler, Sydnor was the president and CEO of Douglas Sydnor Architect and Associates in Scottsdale for more than 20 years. The firm led projects and studies for government, library, cultural and urban infill facilities. Notable projects included the Barry and Peggy Goldwater Library and Archives in downtown Mesa and the McDowell Road Linear Park in Scottsdale.

“Gensler delivers architecture with sophisticated aesthetics, functionality, and technical proficiency which are qualities that I find very consistent with the work I have attempted to create over my career,” says Douglas B. Sydnor, FAIA. “They are also very client-centric, work collaboratively, and practice strong project management skills, which are all professional priorities of mine. For these reasons and many others joining Gensler will be a great fit and I am looking forward to what we can achieve together in Arizona and the Southwest.”

Sydnor is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and a member the United States Green Building Council. He earned his Masters in Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design and his Bachelor of Architecture from Arizona State University.

Melissa Holm, Patrick Magness, Mike Stanley & Philip Westermann

Gensler's Phoenix Office Announces Staff Appointments

 

The Phoenix office of Gensler announces its newest appointed staff.

Gensler promotions are made on an annual basis in recognition of outstanding client service, leadership, innovation, contribution to the organization, and community involvement. The two new Senior Associates and two new Associates have demonstrated exceptional commitment to these values and to Gensler’s vision to be the global design firm that redefines what is possible through the power of design.

>> Melissa Holm Interiors Design Director | Senior Associate: Recently promoted to Design Director, Holm has 12 years of design and technical experience on a wide range of project types from retail to high end law firms. She provides valuable flexibility in all phases of a project from full service design to construction administration services. A NCIDQ certified designer and LEED Accredited Professional, Holm has worked on award winning designs for such clients as Polsinelli Shughart and the Phoenix Westin Downtown.

>> Patrick Magness Technical Leader | Senior Associate: Magness brings more than 14 years of experience to projects and clients, leading technical integration at every level. As a registered architect and LEED-AP BD+C, his experience includes higher education, civic, sports facility, hospitality, and health + wellness projects. Magness drives sustainable design efforts in the Phoenix office and has been a part of project teams honored with more than 20 design awards. He is an active member of the AIA, Phoenix Metro Chapter Advocacy Committee and recipient of the AIA Arizona Young Architects Citation Award, 2011. He was a 2013 PTK Up and Comer.

>> Mike Stanley Senior Project Manager | Associate: With nearly 30 years experience, Stanley has a multi-faceted architectural background serving as a Senior Project Manager. As a registered architect, he has professional experience on a wide range of building types including higher education facilities, laboratories, data centers, offices, hospitals, hotels, office buildings and civic buildings. He has worked on more than 200 projects worth in excess of $4B during his career.

>> Philip Westermann Project Manager | Associate: Westermann has more than 12 years of design and technical leadership experience with exceptional proficiency in all project phases, from early design and documentation, through project implementation and completion. A seasoned professional with a focus on corporate interiors, he has also successfully led teams on education and multi-family residential projects. He is a NCIDQ certified designer and LEED Accredited Professional who is active in the local IIDA Southwest Chapter.

Beth Harmon-Vaughan - 50 Most Influential Women in AZ Business

Beth Harmon-Vaughan – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Beth Harmon-Vaughan – Managing principal, Gensler

With more than 30 year’s experience, Harmon-Vaughan leads design teams in innovation and service for Gensler in Phoenix. Her body of work, encompassing almost every type of commercial and institutional project, is continually recognized for design excellence. As managing principal, Harmon-Vaughan oversees project design development, management and overall strategy. She serves as the client’s advocate, challenging the team to explore all options to ensure solutions are thoroughly developed. Harmon-Vaughan has been recognized and honored by her peers with fellowship status in the IIDA.

Surprising fact: “I’m half Canadian.”

Biggest challenge: “The recent recession, which we have overcome by having positioned for a better market while building our local design portfolio.”

Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business – Every year in its July/August issue Arizona Business Magazine features 50 women who make an impact on Arizona business. To see the full list, read the digital issue >>

rsz_jedunn

JE Dunn Confirms Commitment to Metro Phoenix With New Tempe Office

 

JE Dunn Construction Company, the 10th largest domestic general building contractor in the U.S., announced the purchase, remodel, and relocation of the company’s Phoenix area office to Tempe.

“This new investment reaffirms our commitment to the area and we believe the market will provide many future growth opportunities,” said Terry Dunn, President and CEO.

JE Dunn is investing in Metro Phoenix with the purchase and renovation of a 19,758 SF building. With an interior remodeling designed by Gensler, the space incorporates an exposed ceiling with solar tubes to bring in natural daylight, exposed aggregate concrete floors, a steel clad feature wall, glass front offices with barn doors and JE Dunn blue finish highlights throughout. In addition to office space, the building includes a warehouse for JE Dunn’s logistics group.

“Our new office meets the needs of our recent growth and provides ample space for our collaborative work environment, as well as convenient access for clients,” added Bob Cashin, Vice President.

JE Dunn established an office in Metro Phoenix in 2005 and has been doing business in Arizona since 1999. JE Dunn’s team of industry leaders will further develop strong local relationships and provide excellent service for continued success in the region.

JE Dunn has completed notable projects within the area including the CyrusOne Phoenix Data Center, Tucson Medical Center West Campus, CCA La Palma Correctional Center, Lone Butte Casino, Oasis Hospital, Mountain Vista Medical Center and West Valley Medical Center Hospital.

JE Dunn’s new office is at 2000 W. University Dr., and is part of the firm’s West Region.

Evidence Based Design In Healthcare Facilities

The Right Prescription: Evidence-based Design In Healthcare Facilities

Evidence-based design in healthcare facilities plays a big role in promoting the healing process

Light a scented candle in one of the hydrotherapy rooms at CareMeridian, a Phoenix rehabilitation facility specializing in spine and traumatic brain injury, and imagine you are in a Scottsdale resort’s luxury spa.

The blue ceiling and sea-themed art on the wall, dimmable lighting and large window overlooking the outside garden are designed to evoke the tranquility of nature. The massive, high-back whirlpool tub, which faces away from the window so patients can enjoy natural light and privacy simultaneously, dominates the center of the space like a throne.

But the faux-wood-plank walls are, in fact, made of durable and easy-to-clean porcelain tile, and the flooring is designed to look elegant but provide easy wheelchair movement, an infection barrier and sound muffling, says Mark LaPalm, president of Blue Desert Interiors.

LaPalm piloted the makeover of an aging nursing home into the high-tech but homelike treatment center for catastrophically ill or injured patients.

The hydrotherapy rooms reflect his use of evidence-based design (EBD), a scientific approach to the architecture and engineering of new and renovated buildings.

CareMeridian administrator Lara Bowles says she is often tempted at the end of day to grab a book and some candles and de-stress in the spa-like setting.

But for a patient, the benefits are substantial — measurably and significantly lowering blood pressure and heartbeat as well as providing the medically indicated hydrotherapy treatment, she says.

Many other CareMeridian features, from use of color to placement of art to the floor and furniture coverings, are EBD-inspired, and Bowles says the design elements help relieve patient and employee stress and enhance patient healing.

Creating the right environment

For healthcare facilities, the EBD concept has become almost de rigueur, says architect Mark Patterson, SmithGroupJJR vice president and Phoenix-based health studio leader.

Patterson is one of about 1,000 healthcare design professionals accredited by the Center for Health Design, an organization with the stated goal: “A world where all healthcare environments are created using an evidence-based design process.”

The philosophy is simple, Patterson says, employing the same scientific principles to building design that govern the practice of medicine, that is, identify a problem, hypothesize a solution, test it, analyze results, and apply new knowledge.

A recent National Institutes of Health report compiled the results of hundreds of such studies indicating a direct correlation between facility design and patient safety.

Some of the bottom-line findings:

  • Single-patient rooms reduce the spread of infections, reduce medical errors and increase patient satisfaction.
  • Flooring materials, lighting and location of nursing work areas can impact patient safety, especially in reducing falls.

“Three common themes — promote healing, recruit and retain staff, and reduce operating costs — prevail in any healthcare project,” says Linda Delano, principal of Phoenix-based Building Possibilities. Delano’s client list includes small doctors offices, large corporate hospitals and everything in between.

It’s relatively easy to convince decision-makers at a large hospital group that eliminating multiple-patient rooms to reduce the spread of infection, or designing a room where the path from bed to toilet is short and obstruction-free, will reduce patient falls and save dollars in the long run.

“It can cost more to build, but if initial construction (of a hospital) is $12 million more, and they avoid one patient fall per year, they have made up for that in just a few years,”  Delano says.

But smaller healthcare providers are slow to come to the table, she says.

And for many of the ethereal elements of healthcare building design espoused by EBD proponents, the evidence is more anecdotal than measurable.

The hypotheses are many, for example, governing the impact of color, noise, daylight, nature, music, art and other environmental factors on patient healing.

Research has attempted to quantify these aspects through patient satisfaction surveys, staff interviews, and even calculating changes in patient length of stay and staff retention. But attributing even positive improvements to a single factor isn’t easy.

Still, Patterson says even if it’s difficult to measure, research shows a connection to nature positively affects patient outcomes.

And that governed the central design of Banner Page Hospital’s recent expansion, which was fashioned in the shape of a nautilus shell with the patient rooms spiraling from the central nurses station and the heads of ER beds facing windows overlooking the “healing garden.”

“It’s a beautiful setting. The staff likes working there, and the patients are happier (as) they are treated with dignity,” Patterson says.

Sometimes the one-with-nature theme can be achieved with simple design changes, Patterson says.

“At Banner Ironwood, we put windows at the end of the long hallways. The natural light brings a connection to nature,” he says. “And we added a smaller lobby, opening onto big external gardens.”

In fact, Banner is poised at the leading edge of the evidence-based design trend, Patterson says.

Kip Edwards, Banner Health vice president for development and construction, shies away from the term, but he is a big proponent of the EBD concept.

Banner is like a big research lab using standard designs that the organization is constantly analyzing and evolving as it plans new builds or renovations of older structures, he says.

For example, Banner’s own research yielded evidence that single-patient rooms provide better infection control, adhere to current and upcoming privacy laws, and, most importantly, promote healing. And they are bottom-line effective, Edwards says.

“There is a cost to single-patient rooms, but it’s fully warranted,” he says. “There are financial penalties for readmission, and just limiting infection problems probably pays for itself.”

Also among the Banner design initiatives garnered through research: reconfiguring nurses work areas to smaller stations outside patient rooms instead of big central hubs improved staff effectiveness and increased nurses’ time with patients — or at least patients’ perceptions of that, he says.

“We test that through patient satisfaction surveys,” he says.

As to the gardens and whether they help reduce patient stays, increase staff retention or boost Banner’s bottom line, Edwards says that’s just intuitive.

“The healthcare environment needs to be calming, peaceful, pleasant, conducive to helping heal. Gardens, natural light, pleasant colors — we think all are important,” Edwards says. “It’s not a fad. It’s well-founded in experience and logic.”

PCH ICUJeff Stouffer, HKS Architects’ healthcare academic and pediatric leader, says that it may not be voluminous, but there is documented evidence about the healing benefits of a connection to nature.

“Some research shows that patients use less medications and are discharged sooner,” he says.

HKS established an in-house research group to compile and analyze evidence to guide healthcare design.

“EBD is a key element in all our healthcare projects, especially in pediatric design,” says Stouffer, who recently completed a new 12-story tower at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The company was able to determine, through its own research, that standardizing medication room layouts reduces medical errors. As does standardizing the patient rooms’ size, shape, furniture and even headwalls, which provide access to essential medical services, he says.

Headed in the right direction

Another hot-button for EBD proponents is wayfinding, since studies show navigating through winding hospital corridors can be a big stress-inducer for hospital patients, families and visitors.

At CareMeridian, carpet design, wall art and T-junction focal points are designed to ease wayfinding, LaPalm says.

At PCH, each floor has a designated color and animal symbol, Stouffer says, making it easy for even pre-school-age patients and their families to orient themselves.

That’s one of many child-focused EBD elements HKS incorporated into the new wing.

LED lights along the floor that change color and keep kids hopping from one to another, and a “theater of light” in a three-story atrium are what Stouffer dubs, “positive distractions,” aimed at reducing stress for kids and their parents and “letting kids be kids.”

HKS research indicates children’s healing is impacted by parents’ involvement, so the PCH design focused on the worried parents as well as their sick children, he says.

That included orienting the front entrance towards the parking structure and designing family-sized patient rooms. The rooms in the new wing are big enough — and inviting enough — to accommodate parents overnight, even providing room for them to store belongings and work on laptops, Stouffer says.

And the requisite connection to nature is crucial for confined and anxious parents as well as the patients, so every room has a window with a mountain view.

“(Connection to nature) was a recurring theme when we met with parent advisory groups,” Stouffer says.

Scottsdale Healthcare Healing GardenScottsdale Healthcare Thompson Peak’s healing garden incorporates water, light, “meditation pathways” and desert plants to provide a “therapeutic environment” for patients, according to global design firm Gensler.

It’s a good example of the company’s use of the EBD philosophy in healthcare settings, says Beth Harmon-Vaughan, director of Gensler’s Phoenix office.

But it’s only one tool in the architects’ toolbox, she says.

“EBD has been part of our approach for the last four or five years, but we are always looking to innovate, and a strictly EBD approach may miss opportunities,” Harmon-Vaughan says.

The relatively new trend is, in fact, always looking backwards at proven results, but Harmon-Vaughan says designers have to look ahead, too.

She cites, for example, a Tulsa, Okla., cancer-treatment facility Gensler recently designed.

“In this case, we wanted to dig deeper into interviews with doctors to understand the nature of the issues, and we discovered cancer treatment is going to change. They don’t know how it will change, but they know change is coming as the disease (morphs) from fatal to chronic,” she says. “So we needed to design around change.”

For example, the treatment center may need a large number of suites for chemotherapy infusion now, but infusion may not even be a regular cancer treatment in the future.

“They may not need 60 exam rooms with plumbing in the walls,” Harmon-Vaughan says.

The design solution, which she describes more as out-of-the-box than evidence-based, includes dismountable walls, nurses stations and even the vault, sliding barn doors, flexible flooring and under-floor access to everything — from technology to plumbing — that might otherwise be in the walls.

“We put it together like LEGOS,” she says.

And it’s not just cancer treatment centers that need to be adaptable.

“Right now, the healthcare industry is going though transformational change. Hospitals in 20 years won’t look the same, but the changes will be based on outcomes,” says SmithGroupJJR’s Patterson.

Since EBD is a process and not specific elements, Patterson says it will be a key factor in future healthcare design.

“I believe it is big. It’s not a fad,” he says.

Building Possibilities’ Delano agrees that as the body of evidence grows, the concept will be compelling to everyone in the healthcare industry.

“Will we call it EBD in 20 years? I don’t know. But we’ll still be using these principles,” she says.

RED Awards 2012 - Westin Phoenix Downtown

RED Awards 2012: Best Hospitality Project, Westin Phoenix Downtown

On March 1, AZRE hosted the 7th Annual RED Awards reception at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix to recognize the most notable commercial real estate projects of 2011 and the construction teams involved. AZRE held an open call for nominations and a record 116 projects were submitted by architects, contractors, developers and brokerage firms in Arizona. This year, the winner for Best Hospitality Project was Westin Phoenix Downtown.


Best Hospitality Project

Westin Phoenix Downtown

Developer: National Real Estate Advisors
Contractor: Perini Building Company
Architect: Gensler (interior design)/SmithGroupJJR
Size: 185,000 SF
Location: 333 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Completed: March, 2011

Westin Phoenix DowntownIt took collaborative effort from the team of architects, interior designers and contractor to adapt and renovate the Westin Phoenix Downtown in just a year and a half. Located inside the Freeport-McMoRan Center, the hotel occupies floors 11 through 18. Ordinary office space was transformed into the first 5-star property in Downtown Phoenix. Amenities include a 3,000 SF ballroom, pool and  deck, workout room and Province restaurant. Construction for the Westin consisted of adjusting and expanding the plumbing by drilling core holes and airlifting 750 gallons of hot water boilers to the roof.  During the renovations, employee safety and convenience was adhered to. Perini Building Company did not disrupt the routine of the workers already in the building. The team incorporated energy efficiency through LED lighting and the use of a key card to disable unused electricity once a guest leaves the room. The interior design, provided by Gensler, evokes a natural feel, despite the unexpected location for a boutique hotel.

starwoodhotels.com


Video by Cory Bergquist


Honorable Mention

Casino del Sol Hotel Convention Center and Parking Structure Expansion

Developer: Casino del Sol
Contractor: McCarthy Building Companies
Architect: Leo A Daly
Size: 250,000 SF
Location: 5655 W. Valencia Rd., Tucson
Completed: November, 2011


Video by Cory Bergquist


RED Awards 2012 Winners & Finalists

AZRE Magazine March/April 2012