ASID is proud to host office tours of our headquarters in Washington, DC to show the impact of design on our office experience. As a Living Laboratory, the ASID headquarters is a great place to share this experience with students and offer them a real-world experience in design and research to see first-hand how design can be implemented to improve employee health and wellness, understand the features of the Well Building Standards, and learn how research can be conducted in the workplace. Here are some empowering insights from graduate students that have gone through this experience:
Prior to our field trip to the ASID headquarters, I read about WELL and wondered, “How are they getting health into a space? “ Walking into the ASID space you immediately notice the air is fresh compared to the air outside. What really caught my attention was the café where employees were standing and talking casually with each other. It brought a feeling of community and calmness to the whole ASID space. The large windows with natural light coming in also made it feel like you’re at home. All I could think about is how much of a difference it would make if more offices were designed using WELL similar to the ASID space – employee performance would improve, a better support system would be in place, and the design would impact their lives at work.
Every Interior Designer has a purpose and place in this world to be an agent of change by designing spaces to improve lives. About a year ago, I was working with children in an afterschool program in New York. When I told my students I would be leaving, they asked me, “why?” I told them, “I can’t keep mentoring and trying and push you to live your dreams if I’m not doing that for myself.” Studying interior design is following my dreams – every day I have the opportunity to learn how to be an agent of change and transform lives through design.
ASID focusing on the importance of occupant’s health in a space prompted me become a student member and prompts me to learn more about how to design and improve the lives of others in their spaces. Improving and changing lives is the reason why I look forward to becoming a Designer, and following my dreams is something I can go back and share with my students.
While visiting the ASID headquarters, we joined in on the office experience by going through tasks in various zones that were related to the WELL Building Standards: active design, biophilic design, sustainable design, and universal design. During our huddle at the end of our office experience, we identified many design features that focused on health and wellness.
From my time as a rising designer and after visiting the ASID Headquarters I now feel a sense of belonging. I had transferred my career from broadcasting and marketing to interior design, and the thought of essentially starting from the ground up made me extremely nervous, but I knew that if I did not take the leap and go for it I would always be wondering if I had made the right choice. Now I am more confident than ever that I have taken the right steps towards the career that I want. My initial fears have dwindled and I am confident that my decision to accept a career change will be a remodel of my life.
All designers have a gift to share positive change. In my opinion ASID is so pivotal in understanding how important it is to be connected with a group of distinguished way-finders. Students that want to excel in their career should take advantage of the support system.
In preparation for our visit, I looked online at photos of the space, read the WELL Building Standards, and had questions at hand to ask our host. I felt prepared for the opportunity to interact with fellow students and ASID staff. But, wow – what a space! For me, the activities were secondary to taking in the biophilic elements, the circadian lighting system, the combination of open, huddle and office spaces, and even the purity of the air. I felt relaxed and welcomed. As a student with much to learn, I wanted to make some tea in their well-stocked kitchen and curl up with any of the hundreds of books shelved below the windows and planters. Our tour of the Material Connexion Library made me want to stay and explore all of the samples while dreaming up new design ideas.
I applaud ASID for putting employee health and wellness at the forefront of design. The most important element of any building is not the architecture but the people who work, play or live within it.
About the Author
Moira Gannon Denson, ASID, IDEC, LEED AP is an Assistant Professor of Interior Design at Marymount University and an NCIDQ- certified Interior Designer. She has 10 years professional experience in project delivery and interdisciplinary coordination of healthcare, workplace, hospitality and residential building types at firms such as Gordon and Greenberg Architects, Design Collective Inc., and most recently Perkins + Will. She teaches undergraduate and graduate students in design methods, healthcare and retail studios, and sketching and rendering for ideation. Her research interests target improving the design process and exploring the impacts of design on overall health and wellness.
Amah Dokyi, Student ASID, Marymount University first year graduate student of Interior Design
Anngelica Mohabir, Marymount University first year graduate student of Interior Design
Dawn Hershberger, Student ASID, Marymount University first year graduate student of Interior Design