Contract - Designing for Health: Altruism in the Profession—The Implementation of Social Responsibility

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Designing for Health: Altruism in the Profession—The Implementation of Social Responsibility

25 October, 2010

-By Jamie C. Huffcut, ASID, EDAC, LEED® AP


"Designing for Health" is a monthly, Web-exclusive series from healthcare interior design leaders at Perkins+Will that focuses on the issues, trends, challenges, and research involved in crafting today's healing environments.

There is nothing quite like pro-bono work. It is one thing to individually contribute time or funding; it is a different thing entirely when a group of talented experts come together as a team contributing complimentary skills for a single purpose.

During my time at Perkins+Will, I have become entrenched in our Social Responsibility Initiative (SRI): our commitment through a partnership with Public Architecture, to donate 1% of billable resources firm-wide every year toward improvements in the built environment, pro-bono work with not-for-profit organizations. During a moment of curiosity, I googled the term “social responsibility.” The results of the search disclosed Perkins+Will is not alone in pursuing an improved society; Web-links from the New York Times, Gap, Inc., and countless “.org’s” also exhibit their social responsibility objectives. What a beautiful thing.

Although individuals throughout our firm donate time and expertise individually, the official call for firm-supported and team-based philanthropy work materialized in 2007 during the Annual Principals’ Retreat where principals and associate principals spent four days working in New Orleans. Firm leaders offered their knowledge and physical labor in various civic improvement projects to benefit New Orleans. The Social Responsibility Initiative was born of that retreat with the following mission:

“Perkins+Will is committed to engage its professional resources and leadership to benefit the social needs in the built environment where design can make a difference. While encouraging volunteerism by our employees in our local communities, Perkins+Will will donate 1% of its time and unique intellect to initiate and execute projects and buildings that serve the broad society who otherwise would not have access to our professional services.”

In the months and years that have passed, SRI efforts have produced the equivalent of a 15-person firm working full time on pro-bono initiatives.

Of the hundreds of projects undertaken from 22 offices, two that I have been honored to work on were devoted to supporting healthcare spaces and practices. The Arlington Free Clinic (AFC) is an inspirational non-profit and volunteer-based healthcare provider to uninsured adults in Arlington County, Va. An integrated team that included the Perkins+Will, Integral Group, Bognet Construction, and Washington Workplace completed the new space in June 2009. The grand opening coincided with AFC’s 15-year anniversary of providing much needed care.

Through the design process, an idea was born to dedicate an entire corridor within the Clinic to the 500-plus volunteers who are critical to AFC’s success. Perkins+Will and project general contractor Bognet Construction transformed the 288 sq. ft. of wall into a dedicated showcase of volunteer’s smiling faces. Participants beyond the design team coordinated photo shoots of volunteers, created a template for printing and installing the portraits, and spent an afternoon priming the corridor wall with magnetic paint, supplied by Bognet Construction. The result: volunteer portraits exhibited in magnetic sleeves from end to end and eventually from floor to ceiling with the growth of volunteers. Within the Clinic, the wall is a talking point for potential donors and a gathering place for staff and volunteers as they search the faces for friends and reminisce. Adam Finley of Bognet Construction and partner in the volunteer effort expressed his satisfaction by saying, “The endeavor strengthened our [team] bond and helped us run a smooth construction project that everyone walked away from with fond memories.”

The AFC Volunteer wall yielded instant gratification for the team with them witnessing the efforts coming to life by watching portraits multiply through the years. Yet, other projects, such as a more recent collaboration with the non-profit Capital Link— an organization that aligns operating and monetary resources between funders and Community Health Centers (CHCs) across the country— will generate a different type of outcome.

The Perkins+Will’s Washington, D.C., office gathered a team of architects and interior designers, engineers from Integral Group, contractors from Bognet Construction, IT specialists, and healthcare administrators from Capital Link to establish sustainable building practices that will result in positive environmental outcomes for CHCs undergoing renovations with little cost. Literature available through Capital Link previously did not include information pertaining to sustainable building although it is frequently requested.

The group united their experience on proven sustainable building techniques and met regularly to translate and filter data into unambiguous language for CHC administrators and staff. The result is a concise two-page document health centers can use to initiate conversations on sustainable building with their renovation teams.

"Community Health Centers are responding to a call for incredible capacity development, creating the opportunity for facility development to move from adapting what is available to creating what is possible," says Cindy Barr of Capital Link. “The Toolkit introduces these centers to the world of sustainable design, opening a venue for dialogue that will not only increase capacity for health services, but also for a healthier community.”

Generated by the call towards social responsibility within our firm, the team's contribution as a whole will have a ripple effect over time, promoting healthier building and a healthier environment to receive care nationally.

These two narratives account for a sampling of Perkins+Will’s undertakings. In May 2010, the Social Responsibility Initiative Annual Report was published, highlighting the numerous connections with nonprofits across the continent. Various healthcare projects included advising students at the University of British Columbia School of Architecture during design of Lu’s Pharmacy for Women and VWHC Woman's Health and Wellness Centre in Vancouver, B.C.; completing the tenant fit-out of the Venice Family Clinic in Santa Monica, Calif.; offering design and pricing documents for the Violence Intervention Program in Los Angeles; completing the renovation of the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute of Juanita Craft in partnership with the City of Dallas; designing initial concepts for the Miami Children’s Hospital Ronald McDonald House in Miami; and planning building upgrades for the HEALing Center Community Clinic in Atlanta.

Perkins+Will’s commitment to society through social responsibility and other initiatives across our portfolio was recognized with a Civic Innovation Award from the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., in May. CEO Phil Harrison and firm-wide leaders gathered with 1,100 attendees at the National Building Museum Honor Award Gala to accept the award in the company of other great innovators who were also honored: the New Orleans Habitat Musicians Village founders and the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

The award was accepted with grace and excitement as a recognition of our accomplishments thus far and a spur toward future collaborations and opportunities. Social responsibility is not an option or an afterthought in our work, but a necessary investment in our world and integral to our daily practice.

Past installments of "Designing for Health" include (click on title to access the full article):
How Green is Your Furniture
Workspaces for Well-being
The Cultural Differences of Latin American Countries and Their Desire for American Influence
Light and Its Role in Patient Safety
Research-Based Client Communication
An Urban Clinic—Connecting with the Community
Patient and Staff Safety in Behavioral Health Facilities
A Harmonious Companionship—Rejuvenating State-of-the-Art
Leading by Design – A Place to Flourish




Designing for Health: Altruism in the Profession—The Implementation of Social Responsibility

25 October, 2010


Volunteer Photo Wall, Arlington, Va., (Ken Hayden Photography)

"Designing for Health" is a monthly, Web-exclusive series from healthcare interior design leaders at Perkins+Will that focuses on the issues, trends, challenges, and research involved in crafting today's healing environments.

There is nothing quite like pro-bono work. It is one thing to individually contribute time or funding; it is a different thing entirely when a group of talented experts come together as a team contributing complimentary skills for a single purpose.

During my time at Perkins+Will, I have become entrenched in our Social Responsibility Initiative (SRI): our commitment through a partnership with Public Architecture, to donate 1% of billable resources firm-wide every year toward improvements in the built environment, pro-bono work with not-for-profit organizations. During a moment of curiosity, I googled the term “social responsibility.” The results of the search disclosed Perkins+Will is not alone in pursuing an improved society; Web-links from the New York Times, Gap, Inc., and countless “.org’s” also exhibit their social responsibility objectives. What a beautiful thing.

Although individuals throughout our firm donate time and expertise individually, the official call for firm-supported and team-based philanthropy work materialized in 2007 during the Annual Principals’ Retreat where principals and associate principals spent four days working in New Orleans. Firm leaders offered their knowledge and physical labor in various civic improvement projects to benefit New Orleans. The Social Responsibility Initiative was born of that retreat with the following mission:

“Perkins+Will is committed to engage its professional resources and leadership to benefit the social needs in the built environment where design can make a difference. While encouraging volunteerism by our employees in our local communities, Perkins+Will will donate 1% of its time and unique intellect to initiate and execute projects and buildings that serve the broad society who otherwise would not have access to our professional services.”

In the months and years that have passed, SRI efforts have produced the equivalent of a 15-person firm working full time on pro-bono initiatives.

Of the hundreds of projects undertaken from 22 offices, two that I have been honored to work on were devoted to supporting healthcare spaces and practices. The Arlington Free Clinic (AFC) is an inspirational non-profit and volunteer-based healthcare provider to uninsured adults in Arlington County, Va. An integrated team that included the Perkins+Will, Integral Group, Bognet Construction, and Washington Workplace completed the new space in June 2009. The grand opening coincided with AFC’s 15-year anniversary of providing much needed care.

Through the design process, an idea was born to dedicate an entire corridor within the Clinic to the 500-plus volunteers who are critical to AFC’s success. Perkins+Will and project general contractor Bognet Construction transformed the 288 sq. ft. of wall into a dedicated showcase of volunteer’s smiling faces. Participants beyond the design team coordinated photo shoots of volunteers, created a template for printing and installing the portraits, and spent an afternoon priming the corridor wall with magnetic paint, supplied by Bognet Construction. The result: volunteer portraits exhibited in magnetic sleeves from end to end and eventually from floor to ceiling with the growth of volunteers. Within the Clinic, the wall is a talking point for potential donors and a gathering place for staff and volunteers as they search the faces for friends and reminisce. Adam Finley of Bognet Construction and partner in the volunteer effort expressed his satisfaction by saying, “The endeavor strengthened our [team] bond and helped us run a smooth construction project that everyone walked away from with fond memories.”

The AFC Volunteer wall yielded instant gratification for the team with them witnessing the efforts coming to life by watching portraits multiply through the years. Yet, other projects, such as a more recent collaboration with the non-profit Capital Link— an organization that aligns operating and monetary resources between funders and Community Health Centers (CHCs) across the country— will generate a different type of outcome.

The Perkins+Will’s Washington, D.C., office gathered a team of architects and interior designers, engineers from Integral Group, contractors from Bognet Construction, IT specialists, and healthcare administrators from Capital Link to establish sustainable building practices that will result in positive environmental outcomes for CHCs undergoing renovations with little cost. Literature available through Capital Link previously did not include information pertaining to sustainable building although it is frequently requested.

The group united their experience on proven sustainable building techniques and met regularly to translate and filter data into unambiguous language for CHC administrators and staff. The result is a concise two-page document health centers can use to initiate conversations on sustainable building with their renovation teams.

"Community Health Centers are responding to a call for incredible capacity development, creating the opportunity for facility development to move from adapting what is available to creating what is possible," says Cindy Barr of Capital Link. “The Toolkit introduces these centers to the world of sustainable design, opening a venue for dialogue that will not only increase capacity for health services, but also for a healthier community.”

Generated by the call towards social responsibility within our firm, the team's contribution as a whole will have a ripple effect over time, promoting healthier building and a healthier environment to receive care nationally.

These two narratives account for a sampling of Perkins+Will’s undertakings. In May 2010, the Social Responsibility Initiative Annual Report was published, highlighting the numerous connections with nonprofits across the continent. Various healthcare projects included advising students at the University of British Columbia School of Architecture during design of Lu’s Pharmacy for Women and VWHC Woman's Health and Wellness Centre in Vancouver, B.C.; completing the tenant fit-out of the Venice Family Clinic in Santa Monica, Calif.; offering design and pricing documents for the Violence Intervention Program in Los Angeles; completing the renovation of the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute of Juanita Craft in partnership with the City of Dallas; designing initial concepts for the Miami Children’s Hospital Ronald McDonald House in Miami; and planning building upgrades for the HEALing Center Community Clinic in Atlanta.

Perkins+Will’s commitment to society through social responsibility and other initiatives across our portfolio was recognized with a Civic Innovation Award from the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., in May. CEO Phil Harrison and firm-wide leaders gathered with 1,100 attendees at the National Building Museum Honor Award Gala to accept the award in the company of other great innovators who were also honored: the New Orleans Habitat Musicians Village founders and the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

The award was accepted with grace and excitement as a recognition of our accomplishments thus far and a spur toward future collaborations and opportunities. Social responsibility is not an option or an afterthought in our work, but a necessary investment in our world and integral to our daily practice.

Past installments of "Designing for Health" include (click on title to access the full article):
How Green is Your Furniture
Workspaces for Well-being
The Cultural Differences of Latin American Countries and Their Desire for American Influence
Light and Its Role in Patient Safety
Research-Based Client Communication
An Urban Clinic—Connecting with the Community
Patient and Staff Safety in Behavioral Health Facilities
A Harmonious Companionship—Rejuvenating State-of-the-Art
Leading by Design – A Place to Flourish

 


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