I’ve spent the last decade or so designing healthcare facilities because, as an architect, this was the primary sector in which we could focus on the impacts that the built environment has on human health. As the sustainable design leader for HOK’s firm-wide Healthcare practice, finding the sweet spot between environmental sustainability and human health goals is my top priority. Over the last few years the tide has been changing – no longer relegated to only the healthcare or the sustainability crowds, both the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) have substantial initiatives related to human health.
Last week I participated in an Impact Summit on “Health + Wellness in the Built Environment” jointly hosted by the ASID and its partner, the Interior Designers of Canada (IDC). Not only did we have a great topic for conversation, but we also had a great event site: the LEED Platinum University of Florida Lake Nona Research Center, an HOK-designed facility within the Lake Nona Medical City. Lake Nona is home to several hospitals, a medical school, and medical research facilities. It’s always great to see one of our projects in action, and this one was particularly enjoyable with a lot of daylight and views to the outdoors. Even the lecture hall – a space type that is too often dark and dreary – had large windows on the two long walls. It wasn’t specifically designed to be an event space, but it serves this function very well.
The summit brought together about 75 leaders in the field, including Lisa Fulford-Roy, HOK’s marketing principal in Canada. Lisa spoke on a panel that addressed “Integration of the Disciplines: Is Integrative Design the Key to Health and Wellness Success?” She spoke about her experience in workplace strategy and HOK’s approach to incorporating health issues into projects. I moderated a plenary discussion that addressed the discrepancies between “health, safety and welfare” – the foundation upon which building codes are created – and our fundamental need for health and wellness. The opening plenary, moderated by Susan Szenasy of Metropolis Magazine, evaluated the future of intelligent communities in terms of physical, psychological and ecological health. In between the plenary sessions, the participants broke out into several groups to address unique challenges in different building types. The ASID will issue a whitepaper based on the summit findings.
This marked the first of what the ASID and IDC say will be a series of annual impact summits; the next one will be hosted in Canada by the IDC before the ASID brings it back to the US in 2017.
About the Author
Mara Baum, AIA, LEED AP Fellow, EDAC, is HOK’s firmwide healthcare sustainable design leader, oversees sustainability across the healthcare market sector, and leads HOK’s health and wellness initiatives. Baum has more than 15 years of sustainability experience in design, urban planning, research, teaching, and green building certification, and her work focuses on the intersection between ecological considerations and the creation of a healthy and healing environment. Baum is on the LEED Advisory Committee and was co-author of the Advanced Energy Design Guide for Large Hospitals: 50% Savings. She is an online faculty member for Boston Architectural College’s Sustainable Design Institute where she teaches “Green Building and Health” and “Sustainable Design of Healthcare Facilities.”