Posts

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

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

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 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

MERRY & BRIGHT: Everyday Lighting Strategies

collage of various interior lighting samples Lighting is one of the fundamental aspects of interior design—whether it’s a senior living community, educational facility, hospitality venue, office, or really any type of occupied space. Lighting strategies are especially important now that most of the country has moved back to standard time. Those of us living in the northern hemisphere are experiencing reduced natural light and likely getting outdoors less than usual.

As we move into the darker days of winter and the sparkling lights associated with the holiday season, it’s a good time to devote our attention to everyday lighting strategies.  We’ve asked a few of our interior designers and lighting design consultants to share their thoughts on various aspects of lighting. Continue reading

POST-PANDEMIC PRIORITIES: Interior Design Strategies for Senior Living

various spaces in a senior living community For both the near term and into the future, senior living is going to look, feel, and function differently. An intensified focus on infection control has drastically altered day-to-day operations which are now viewed through the lenses of health, density, and safety. We are taking a different approach to senior living design strategies, such as space layouts, finish materials or furniture and equipment selections, to help senior living communities respond to changing priorities. Continue reading

Biophilic Design for Learning

a collage of various biophilic design samples in the real world Despite the documented benefits of getting outside and experiencing nature firsthand, students spend most of the day indoors and a growing proportion of that time is spent staring at a computer screen.  This reality reinforces the value of applying biophilic design principles to a new school building or campus renovation to create a better learning environment for students.

Open Air School, Netherlands, 1918
Open Air School, Netherlands, 1918 – The health benefits of nature connections have long been appreciated. Open air schools originated in the early 1900s in response to tuberculous outbreaks. The first open air school in the US opened in 1908 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Biophilic Design Defined

Biophilic design has received growing attention in recent years. The idea that nature connections help to inspire, calm and nurture us almost seems like common sense. Biologist Edward O. Wilson, who literally wrote the book “Biophilia,” describes our innate tendency to affiliate with nature.

Biophilic design acknowledges this reality and focuses on strategies to increase occupant connections to the natural environment. This is achieved through a combination of direct connections, simulated nature, and space and place conditions. Continue reading

THOUGHTFUL DESIGN: Interior Design for People with Dementia

collage of various interior design ideas for people with dementia

Professional interior design melds functional and aesthetic qualities of spaces with current codes to protect public health, safety and welfare. Interior design for people with dementia requires additional considerations to respect each individual without compromising dignity or comfort.

Memory support since the 1990s
Fostering outdoor connections is one design principle that has not changed. This photo is from The Sylvestery at Vinson Hall in the early 2000s.

RLPS has been designing senior living communities since the 1950s.  Specialized settings to support people with dementia emerged in the early 1990s and demand has increased significantly since that time. More recently, some senior living communities are moving away from a separate setting for people with dementia. This integrated living approach requires appropriate staff training, effective use of technology and community-wide supportive strategies to provide safe and comfortable living spaces for all senior residents regardless of cognitive abilities.

There is no single “right” answer. Our team draws on evolving research, specialized programs, and input from our clients to inform our approach to support the needs of people with dementia through interior design. For example, intentionally designed spaces for programs such as Montessori or Opening Minds through Art (OMA), function as a silent partner reinforcing these research-based initiatives. Continue reading

There’s a Code for That? Hand Sanitizer Station Guidelines for Schools & Campuses

Hand sanitizer guidelines can be found in the International Building Code and the International Fire Code

There are differing opinions regarding best scenarios for getting back to classes this month. Good hand hygiene is the most universally accepted measure for keeping students, staff and faculty safe when returning in-person to schools and campuses this fall. Many of our education clients have indicated that installation of hand sanitizer dispensers is a key component of their preparations. However, it is important to be aware of hand sanitizer guidelines when installing or placing stations in your buildings.

A Simple Solution, but Guidelines Can’t be Overlooked

Hand sanitizer is a preferred hygiene solution due to having less touch points than the traditional soap and sink hand washing.  Its ease of use and ready availability may also encourage more frequent sanitizing by students. Hand sanitizer dispenses are simple to implement, with both wall installation and self-standing options available.

Did you know  that hand sanitizers are addressed in the International Building Code and the International Fire Code for all school and campus buildings? According to the codes, hand sanitizer is not considered a hazardous material if dispensers are installed correctly and limited quantities of material are stored appropriately.  However, incorrectly installed or stored supplies risk being flagged by code enforcement officials as hazardous material. Continue reading