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design thinkers

Feeling WELL in our buildings

Before I ventured into the architecture and design world, I worked as an Account Manager for a global advertising agency in NYC. The industry is known to be extremely demanding. I worked long hours, late into the night, but I was fresh out of college and didn’t know any better. I also didn’t know that my workplace environment was not conducive to supporting the demands of our work.

I spent countless hours in a windowless office that was located within the center core of the building with no access to natural daylight. Fluorescent lighting filled the space and gave me headaches daily. I spent many hours behind a computer that rested on a fixed desk and sat in a not-so-ergonomically-friendly chair. Now looking back through the eyes of an interior designer and WELL Accredited Professional, I cannot believe I lasted as long as I did in that environment. I’d love to ask those that designed the space “What were you thinking?”

Natural daylight access for all was achieved by shifting enclosed offices to the core and open workstations along the exterior windows. All workstations and office desks are equipped with adjustable height settings to improve overall ergonomics and well-being.

I think a philosophy shared by many of my colleagues at SLAM, is that it’s our unified goal to shape and design buildings to support the needs and, more importantly, promote the well-being of those who occupy these buildings. Let’s be honest, most of us spend more time at work than we do in our own homes, and these interior spaces should promote human health and wellness to the best of our ability

The WELL Building Standard created by the IWBI (International WELL Building Institute) is a way to measure and certify that your building meets stringent sustainability and environmental factors, but more importantly its focused on measuring how 11 key concepts of your building can benefit the health and well-being of its occupants: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind, Community and Innovation.

To promote stair usage, natural daylight floods the stairwell along with a vibrant, colorful mosaic wall tile graphic sparks interest and ties back to the interior’s overall color palette.  

While many of the features in the WELL Building Standard have synergies with LEED, there are several features that can contribute to WELL Certification that you may not think about at first. For example, supplying plates in your café that are less than 9.5” in diameter encourages people to put less food on their plates, and in turn eat less. Or designing your food display area to highlight fruits and vegetables when users first walk into the space so they are more likely to make healthier food choices than not.

Bringing the outside in and incorporating biophilic design elements to an interior space can serve as a powerful tool to help relieve stress, support focus and encourage overall mental well-being.  We’re now seeing industry leaders offering a wide range of products that evoke the sense of nature through patterns and textures inspired by the natural environment around us. Some even going further and reimagining the design and construction of products so that they function beautifully and efficiently as anything found in nature, like the Mohawk Group’s Living Product line.  

One of the Mohawk Group’s living product carpet lines, “Lichen Collection”, was inspired by the multi-hued and textural lichens and their regenerative role in our ecosystem.

In recent years, my focus has been on the higher education market, where we’re finding, with many institutions around the country, that prospective and current students are not only demanding healthy, sustainable environments to learn and study in, but they are expecting it.

At SLAM a large portion of our higher education work is focused on medical education and health sciences facilities around the country. Buildings that house future health professionals, whose main purpose is to help heal and promote the well-being of others. So why shouldn’t the buildings they learn in, reflect those same ideals? The answer to this question was the motivating factor for me to pursue my WELL Accreditation, and it could be for you too.

Organic carpet tile patterns and use of natural materials such as wood paneling evoke the sense of nature that can be viewed just outside the main lobby windows.

For more information on registering your project for WELL Certification or to become a WELL Accredited Professional check out the links below.

Link for registering your building for WELL Certification version 2.0

Link for registering to become a WELL Accredited Professional

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