Posts

SUSTAINABLE DESIGN 2021: Taking a Look at the WELL Health-Safety Seal

In the wake of a 13% drop in enrollment for 2020-2021, colleges and universities are considering new strategies to attract students. Priorities have shifted for students and staff as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Sustainable design standards have likewise adapted with offerings such as the WELL Health-Safety Seal to help foster trust and encourage a return to pre-pandemic campus life.

The International WELL Building Institute is just one of several organizations to develop specialized standards to address the renewed focus on infection control and safely reopening indoor environments.  The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Center for Active Design, and RESET have each developed modules to help facility managers measure, improve and monitor air quality, sustainability, and/or health and wellness strategies. Continue reading

THE IN-BETWEEN: Elevator Lobby Design Strategies

The elevator lobby is often overlooked as an opportunity to reinforce your brand.  Regardless of its size, this workhorse space is a prime circulation area that is accessed multiple times a day. When the elevator door opens, the lobby area beyond should provide an inviting and appropriate reference to your brand experience.  With proper design consideration, the elevator lobby creates a strong first impression as well as a positive lasting impression for your building and campus brand.

Elevator Lobby Design Functionality

Typically, the elevator lobby at the main entrance of the building receives the most attention.  However,  common space is often at a premium for both senior living and higher education campuses. Upper level elevator lobbies provide opportunities for quieter gathering or informal study areas. Continue reading

DIGNITY & DESIGN: Crucial Considerations for Memory Support Design Solutions

Dignity—something that is often taken for granted—is one of the most fundamental elements of the human spirit.  Everyone wants to be valued and respected for who they are.  Those needs do not disappear if a person is living with Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia. Translating this innate desire to memory support design solutions demands acknowledgement of each person’s independence and personal choice, regardless of his or her acuity level.

Supporting the needs of people living with dementia requires senior living communities and design professionals to first understand the daily living challenges that a typical congregate environment presents. By identifying these difficulties, memory support settings can be reimagined to nurture independence and meaningful experiences which will, in turn, provide a sense of purpose and personal dignity. Continue reading

CAREER CENTER DESIGN SHIFT: Helping Students Launch Careers During a Pandemic

One of the most important outcomes of a college education is meaningful employment after graduation. However, recent graduates are seeking employment in one of the worst job markets since the Great Depression.  As of December 2020, about 7.2 percent of recent college graduates were unemployed in the U.S.  These statistics point to the need for a career center design shift to meet students’ needs today and into the future.

Today’s job market emphasizes the importance of robust career services to help students take their first career step.  Institutions need to provide students—and parents—with a tangible reminder that they offer a quality education AND critical career resources.  Even before the pandemic, career services have been assuming a more prominent role on campus. Continue reading

MEMORY SUPPORT DESIGN: The Silent Partner

Within the team of family, caregivers and clinicians caring for someone with memory impairments is an unexpected partner – the space in which individuals live.

Throughout the history of supporting people living with cognitive impairments, environments have evolved considerably from previous iterations that were virtual lockdowns to spaces available today where people can function safely following their own daily rhythms.  This evolution is a direct reflection of the importance the built environment plays in residents’ health and wellbeing.

A carefully designed memory support setting can serve as a silent partner in helping people with cognitive decline live well and potentially help to slow the disease’s progression.

A well-designed space provides cues and guides people to follow daily patterns of eating, sleeping, dressing, or participating in activities, allowing them to live fully in an environment they understand. These cues can be as simple as somewhere to lay out clothes for tomorrow to remind residents to dress in the morning. Red “H” for hot and blue “C” for cold can remind someone to wash their hands. Or, their own furniture from home can remind someone which room is their own. Continue reading

INTERIOR DESIGN FOR WELLNESS: Strategies to Encourage Physical Activity in Older Adults

Interior design for wellness spaces allows our team to encourage physical activity, especially for the older adults living in the senior living communities we serve. The benefits of physical activity are well documented, along with the fact that most people need more of it.  This is especially true for older adults.  A multi-year study by Mather Lifeways Institute on Aging has documented that people living in life plan communities report more healthy behaviors than other older adults, in part due to the ready availability of resources.  In recent years, we have seen a number of life plan communities place renewed emphasis on resident health and well-being by expanding or updating their wellness facilities. Continue reading

The Side Hustle: How to Attract ‘The Entrepreneur Generation’ to Campus

Colleges and universities of every size must consider entrepreneurship program spaces that address the aspirations of today’s students. Dubbed ‘The Entrepreneur Generation,‘ many expect to start their own company—almost 54% of Gen Z’s according to a recent Nielsen study.  Likewise, Gallup found that 40% of 5th to 12th Graders plan to start a business.

This generation, born after 1996 and raised in the ‘influencer’ age, seeks financial independence and the opportunity to make an impact. Gen Z (also called Zoomers) grew up seeing Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard roommates create Facebook in 2004. Startups like Mashable, Tumblr, Firefox and Box followed suit, with founders under the age of 22. And in 2019, the world witnessed activist Greta Thunberg taking on the United Nations Climate Action group at the age of 16.

To respond to the entrepreneurial spirit of Gen Z and help these future leaders develop relevant skills and experience, campuses are investing in maker spaces, think-tanks, incubators and innovation centers located across disciplines and in multiple buildings to encourage access to these resources for all students.

Continue reading

3 Reasons Interior Designer Credentialing Matters

various images of interior spaces Interior designer credentialing reflects a commitment to the highest professional standards.  Our firm focuses on senior living and educational facilities. Interior designers must put the health, safety and welfare of the people living, learning and working in those spaces at the forefront of design decisions. As we look forward to a post-COVID future, physical space impacts on health and well-being take on increased significance.

Starting with the Basics:  Interior Design Professionals

Although sometimes used interchangeably with interior decorating, the interior design profession requires specialized education and training.  Interior design professionals typically earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in interior design and/or architecture, have worked in the field for two or more years, and hold National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certification.  The current exam encompasses seven core competencies of interior design: building systems, codes, construction standards, contract administration, design application, professional practice and project coordination. The NCIDQ examination is regularly updated to reflect current knowledge required to design safe, functional and innovative interior spaces. Continue reading

The Devil is in the Details: Designing a Building Envelope to Stand the Test of Time

I’m one of the drafters at RLPS.  We’re the people who document all of the details of constructing a building – how all of the individual pieces go together.  Yes, we use state-of-the-art 3D modeling software to design each building, but we still “draw” a lot of the details individually – the digital equivalent of putting pencil to paper.

What is the building envelope?

One aspect of building design that we spend a lot of time detailing is the building “envelope”, the outer layers of the building that keep the elements out and keep the interior comfortable.  The envelope performs those duties by managing and controlling heat transfer, rain and snow, water vapor and air movement. Continue reading

COLOR TREND FORECASTING: Finish Meets Fashion; Science Meets Art

various images using pantone's 2021 colors of the year For only the second time in 20 plus years of color forecasting, the Pantone Color Institute has announced that its 2021 color of the year is two colors!  This led us to take a deeper dive into color trend forecasting. Color trend forecasts have garnered more media attention in recent years and seem to be increasingly impacting interior design trends, as well as fashion, home décor and consumer products from blenders to cars. Who’s behind the color picks each year and how are they selected? Continue reading