An emerging new model for hybrid translational healthcare facilities combines scientific research with university and professional athletic programs to increase community engagement and student wellbeing. From integrating sports training facilities with medical clinics and applied research, to incorporating fitness gyms, running tracks, and rock-climbing walls into student lounges and public spaces, the combination of athletics and recreation with other programs offers an innovative vision for academic facility design.
When the small, commuter-focused University of Washington campus in downtown Tacoma decided to renovate the old Tacoma Paper and Stationery building, the idea wasn’t just to create a biomedical research lab, or an electrical engineering facility, or an urban studies center, or a community meeting place, or maker space. The goal was to accomplish all of those things in one facility, and to serve as a home away from home for students, faculty, and the greater Tacoma community, in spaces that were welcoming, informal, and multi-functional. Some of the biomed labs and classrooms have glass walls; many rooms have movable furniture and adaptable designs; and shared spaces allow individuals or groups to just pop in without reserving them in advance.
In December 2016, Stony Brook Medical launched a plan to build housing for a pair of high-power MRIs, an older model 9.4-Tesla and a newer 7-Tesla. The original plan was to build a brick-and-mortar facility into their existing vivarium, but that was deemed too expensive, forcing them to consider other options. Glen Itzkowitz, dean of facilities and operations, and his team decided to pursue an option that had never been considered at Stony Brook—using pre-fabricated containers to house the MRIs, which they could just barely squeeze into a loading dock underneath a high-traffic footpath, space that was largely being wasted.
Innovation has become the lifeblood of corporate and institutional longevity. Whether a disruptive breakthrough or a line extension, more often than not it is the result of an idea that follows an obscure networked path before evolving into a viable new product or business model. Facilities have a huge impact on the pace and outcome of the innovation process. A variety of spaces, each tailored to foster a specific type of activity, is essential to the innovative workplace. “At the end of the day, innovation is all about providing the right spaces to enable people to use their creative brains in the best manner to come up with new ideas,” says John Campbell, president and lead workplace strategist at the architecture firm FCA. “The design must address the human behaviors that drive the process.”
When Johnson County Community College asked them in 2015 to establish a space planning program, Janelle Vogler and Robyn Albano wondered where to start. Now they advise the college’s top decision-makers to optimize building utilization on campus. In launching a space planning organization from scratch, they point to several lessons they learned along the way: It’s vital to assign a point person to lead the effort; you need a team whose members commit to the institution’s interests above any one department; a successful organization will establish transparent processes for requests and decisions; and don’t be afraid to start data collection with a simple spreadsheet.
University of Michigan transformed Weiser Hall—a 1960s brick tower with floor after floor of double-loaded, concrete block corridors—into a dynamic and flexible “center of centers” that brings together international and interdisciplinary institutes and centers so they can share space, services, and ideas. The provost’s charge was to renovate the building to create the “academic workplace of the future.” With the help of brightspot strategy and Diamond Schmitt architects, the team accomplished that mission with a seven-step formula that yielded impressive results, including an average overall productivity savings of 4.26 hours per person per week, the equivalent of every unit being able to grow its staff by 10 percent at no cost.
More and more, workers aren’t going to an office and sitting at the same desk Monday through Friday.
- Bringing Real-time Interactivity to Campus Master Planning
- Making an Old Science Building Relevant Again
- Scientific Workplace Promotes Collaboration and Innovation
- Massachusetts General Hospital’s New Methods and Metrics for Measuring Utilization of Research Space
- Merck’s New Research Buildings Respond to Disruptive Technology, Changing Social Norms
- Caltech’s New CAST Facility Simulates Testing Environments for Drones, Robots, and Satellites
- Five Key Design Elements of Successful STEM Facilities
- Novartis' Activity-Based Work Environments Have Broad Appeal
- Well Buildings for Occupant Well Being
- OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Offers Team Science Approach to Early Detection Research
Uptown Consortium is planning to build the $26 million CoMade innovation hub in Cincinnati.
The distinctive design characteristics of the tech workplace are spilling over into the scientific research environment. Elements like glass-walled open-plan offices and labs, activity-based spaces, and the embrace of WELL standards are all making an appearance in Merck & Co., Inc.’s new nine-story, multi-disciplinary discovery research facility, set to open in South San Francisco in 2019. Along with other yet-to-be determined innovations, these features likely will be incorporated in the $8 billion in U.S. capital projects the pharmaceutical giant announced it will invest in over the next five years.