Biophilic Design in Healthcare Spaces

February 13, 2024
A Healing Environment

Biophilic elements have numerous positive health benefits for those who use and inhabit a space, as human connection to nature is inherent. The real, tangible impacts of exposure to natural, biophilic elements range from improved mood and quality of sleep, to increased mental abilities and energy levels, among other benefits.

 

Knowing the myriad of health benefits that being surrounded by nature provides, it’s easy to picture the positive impact of incorporating biophilia into healthcare spaces for both patients and providers. For medical spaces especially, the subtle sense of calmness caused by biophilic design means that check-ups and procedures, that may ordinarily be a source of stress or anxiety to some, are much easier for those patients to handle. From this perspective, using an evidence-based approach to wholistic care means the inclusion of natural, biophilic elements in project designs.

 

Looking at the intricacies of biophilia, we aim to dive deeper into how the Ankrom Moisan healthcare team utilizes biophilic design to support patients, providers, and visitors in healing spaces.

 

Healthcare Project Examples

 

Some examples of how biophilic designs are integrated into healthcare spaces to improve and enhance the patient experience can be seen below, in projects like CCC Blackburn, the Swedish Medical Center Ambulatory Infusion Clinic, and the Harborview Medical Center Pediatric Burn Unit.

 

Biophilic elements of CCC Blackburn

 

CCC Blackburn‘s use of color, texture, and space establishes a dynamic balance of tension and openness within its walls, leading to a combination of both open space and boundaries that emulates the harmony of woodland clearings and fallen trees in the wild. The building was pulled apart to allow natural light into the long hallways and corridors, expelling darkness. Wide, operable windows provide access to sunlight, fresh air, and open space at every level. Views of plants, animals, and insects affirm to patients that they are connected to the outdoors, preventing the feeling of being isolated or stuck in a sterile, empty environment that can be so common in medical spaces.

 

Biohpilia in the Swedish Medical Center Ambulatory Infusion Clinic

 

Similarly, the Swedish Medical Center Ambulatory Infusion Clinic utilizes natural materials, spacial variability, direct views to exterior natural elements, and the intentional use of both indoor and natural light to emphasize the subtle feelings of attraction and appreciation for beauty that results from biophilic design. These features also provide patients with a comforting atmosphere while undergoing treatment, so that even the building’s design around the patient is there to ease pain and reduce discomfort.

 

Biophilia in the Harborview Medical Center Pediatric Burn Unit

 

The Harborview Medical Center Pediatric Burn Unit also includes biophilic elements designed to help put patients at ease. Wall graphics that reference the outdoors bring color, curiosity, and excitement to the room while simultaneously avoiding placelessness by giving the space its own unique look, feel, and identity. Wood-look and other organic aesthetics combine with natural and artificial light to engage patients, ensuring that they are stimulated while waiting for and receiving care.

 

Projects that embrace biophilia and include natural features in their design have the additional potential to heal the Earth while healing individuals. This happens foremost through the restoration of natural spaces in and outside of project sites. By including natural features and views, projects often facilitate and encourage the growth of plant life, improving air quality, offsetting a site’s carbon footprint, and contributing to prosperity of the local ecosystem. This is commonly seen with the introduction of native plants and other species that attract pollinators, allowing them to reproduce and continue the circle of life.

 

We also know that biophilic design has benefits that go beyond pleasant visuals and feeling connected to one’s surroundings. Findings have shown that biophilia boosts immune health, supports mental and emotional health, and can even aid physical recover. Knowing this, designing healthcare spaces to include biophilic connections is a no-brainer.

 

Resources to Learn More

 

This only scratches the surface of the conversation around what biophilia is, its benefits, how it can be integrated into project designs, and why it is important. There are lots of materials out there to continue to learn more about this topic.

 

The resources used to develop the content shared in this blog include The Nature Fix by Florence Williams, Nature Inside by Bill Browning and Catherine O. Ryan, and “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design” by New York environmental consulting firm Terrapin Bright Green.

 

Christie Thorpe Black and white headshot of Jack Cochran, the author of this blog post.

 

By Christie Thorpe, Interior Designer, and Jack Cochran, Marketing Coordinator.

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What You Need to Know About Biophilic Design

January 31, 2024
The Basics of Biophilia

Biophilia is the concept that there is an innate connection between humans and nature. Our love of nature and tendency to crave connections with the natural world is a deeply engrained and intuitive aspect of both human psychology and physiology. It’s part of our DNA.

 

Building off that concept, biophilic design is the intentional use of design elements that emulate sensations, features, and phenomena found in nature with the goal of elevating the built environment for the benefit of its end users.

 

Simply put, biophilic design is good design. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate; it just has to be intentional. Creating connections to the outdoors in the built environment can significantly impact users’ mental and physical well-being.

 

How Biophilia is Integrated into Projects

 

There are many ways to integrate biophilic elements into a project’s design. Some of the most common methods of doing this have been categorized by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as being either Nature in the Space, Natural Analogues, or the Nature of the Space.

 

1. Nature in the Space

 

Biophilic design that places emphasis on bringing elements of the outdoors into interior spaces would be classified as ‘Nature in the Space.’ These outdoor-elements-brought-inside can be anything from plants, animals, and water features, to specific scents, sensations (like the feeling of a breeze), shade and lighting effects, or other environmental components found in the natural world. They are organic features that are literally brought inside. An example of this could be a project using natural materials like exposed mass timber and green walls covered with living plants to mimic the sensation of being in a wooded forest.

 

2. Natural Analogues

 

‘Natural Analogues’ in biophilic design are human-made, synthetic patterns, shapes, colors, and other details that reference, represent, or mimic natural materials, markings, and objects without utilizing or incorporating those actual materials, markings, or objects. An example of a natural analogue might be the use of spiral patterns in a painted wall mural to link a project’s design to seashells and the coast, the inclusion of animal print motifs in fabric and material choices, or even the use of blue rugs and carpeting to link a site to a nearby river or other body of water. Subtle finishes, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) touches can also be a biophilic natural analogue, like the use of shelves that reference the pattern and shape of a honeycomb. Natural analogues are most often design and material choices that pay homage to recognizable environmental elements.

 

3. Nature of the Space

 

A focus on the ‘Nature of the Space’ on the other hand, pays more attention to a location’s construction, layout, and scale than its FF&E and other accessories or interior design. It utilizes spatial differences, the geography of a space, and other elements of a project’s configuration to imitate expansive views, sensory input, or even feelings of safety and danger that are found in the wild. This may manifest as an open stairwell that embraces rough, asymmetrical walls to subtly mirror the textures of a canyon, or as the inclusion of an atrium to give end-users a perspective that parallels the wide-open views seen from a mountain peak. ‘Nature of the Space’ can also be seen in the use of soft lighting and smaller scale spaces to simulate the felt safety and coziness of a cave. It is the utilization of a project’s site itself to replicate experiences and sensations found in the world of nature.

 

By emulating natural features and bringing the outdoors in, architects and interior designers integrate the benefits of exposure to the natural world into built spaces, creating a unique shared experience for a site’s users.

 

 

A list of biophilic design elements and attributes. 

 

When combined with intentionality and thoughtful design, these elements can transform ordinary spaces into spaces that support human health and wellness.

 

The Power of Biophilia

 

Aside from elevating design, the inclusion of biophilic elements in a project can have numerous positive health benefits for those who use and inhabit that space. Biophilia’s impact on health and wellness may not be something that we are conscious of, but it is a difference that we feel. Humans understand biophilia intuitively.

 

The amount of time humans spend interacting with nature – as well as the amount of time they are disconnected from the natural world – has real, tangible impacts on an individual’s health. In today’s industrial, technologically dominated world, it’s especially important to seek out connections with nature, since many built spaces often forgo biophilic features and the benefits that come with them.

 

The negative health impacts of not having enough connection to nature are:

 

  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep stemming from an unstable circadian rhythm
  • A weakened immune system
  • Poor focus
  • Weak memory
  • Attention issues like ADHD
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased emotional regulation

 

The positive benefits of exposure to nature, on the other hand, include:

 

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Feelings of safety
  • Restful sleep and a stable circadian rhythm
  • A strong immune system
  • Increased focus
  • Greater memory and learning abilities
  • Higher energy levels
  • Increased emotional regulation

 

Knowing the range of benefits that biophilia has the potential to provide, architects and interior designers have the opportunity to purposefully design spaces with the health and wellbeing of its end-users in mind, positively influencing the experience of a location as well as the feelings of the people occupying it.

 

Some of Ankrom Moisan’s expert design teams have already done this, including biophilic elements in the shared spaces of project to elevate the end-user’s experience of those environments. In a follow up blog post, we will take a deeper look at how biophilia shows up in three distinct Ankrom Moisan healthcare projects, discussing how the inclusion of biophilia can be leveraged to support an evidence-based approach to holistic, whole-person care.

 

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Get to Know (More of) the AM Student Housing Team

December 1, 2023
A Q&A with Jason Jones & Cindy Schaumberg

Two of our Student Housing studio leaders, Jason Jones and Cindy Schaumberg, give us insight into what’s next for student housing (goodbye amenity wars!) and why they’re excited about it. They also share what makes each of them uniquely suited for this work; from college-aged kids to past careers.

 

 

 

 

Cindy Schaumberg, Principal, Market Studio Lead

10 years of experience in student housing

 

 

Q: What do you like best about designing student housing?

 

A: I enjoy working on student housing because it allows me to contribute to the well-being and success of students. Providing a comfortable and safe living environment for students is incredibly rewarding. I love that thoughtful interior design can create a sense of community that will support students during their educational journey and make their time away from home enjoyable.

 

 

Q: What has excited you about future work in this studio?

 

A: There is a focus on creating inclusive and diverse communities within student housing. This involves designing spaces that foster a sense of belonging and respect for different cultures, backgrounds, and identities. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion, student housing can become a place where students feel supported, comfortable, and valued.

 

Additionally, with increasing awareness of environmental issues, sustainable design practices have become a top priority in student housing. Incorporating energy-efficient systems, using eco-friendly materials, and implementing recycling programs are some ways to promote sustainability in student housing.

 

 

Q: What’s uniquely challenging about designing student housing?

 

A: Students come from various backgrounds and have different needs and preferences when it comes to their living arrangements. Designing student housing that can cater to a wide range of preferences, from quiet study spaces to communal gathering areas, can be a challenge, but a challenge we feel is important to embrace.

 

 

Q: What inspires you?

 

A: My daughters! As a parent of two college-age daughters, I understand the delicate balance between providing support and fostering independence. This has made me more aware of the importance of fostering a sense of community and support within student housing. My daughters have given me firsthand experience and knowledge of their needs and preferences. I also have a better understanding of the amenities and features that are essential for a comfortable, productive and healthy living environment.

 

 

Theory U District

 

 

 

Jason Jones, Associate Principal

18 years of experience in student housing

 

 

Q: What do you like best about designing student housing? 

 

A: For me, it’s all about the students and collaborating with like-minded individuals who share a passion for raising the bar in living and learning environments. I take great pride in knowing that I can contribute to positive change in students’ lives and their impact on society on our planet.

 

 

Q: What trends are you seeing in student housing? 

 

A: I am excited to see a shift in our industry that is supporting affordable housing solutions that focus on mental, social, and physical wellness. Biophilia is an overused term these days, but it has a powerful impact on a human’s well-being.

 

 

Q: Is there anything that makes you uniquely suited to working in this studio?  

 

A: My journey in this studio has been a unique blend of two professional lives—one as an architectural professional and the other as a development manager in student housing. These distinct roles have enriched my expertise and vision, allowing me to craft architectural concepts that seamlessly align with financial objectives while upholding the utmost quality. Quality and innovation are at the heart of my work, and I’m excited to keep pushing boundaries in this ever-evolving field.

 

 

Q: What’s a memorable career moment?  

 

A: One of my first student housing projects was remodeling an old dining hall in a student housing complex. We had the opportunity to do some fun design work that we thought the students would love. The day it opened, I snuck in before the students came in and acted like I was going to school there so I could see what they had to say firsthand. Their expressions and the incredible praise of the design still inspire me today.

 

 

Q: What changes have you seen in this studio over the years? 

 

A: Watching the amenity race die. Instead, projects are becoming statements of well-being and sustainability.

 

 

Cornish Commons

 

 

Want to get to know more of the Student Housing Team? Learn about Alissa Brandt and Matt Janssen here. 

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HCAI Made Easy(er)

November 27, 2023
Navigating California’s Office of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI)

HCAI can be an intimidating organization to work with. But it doesn’t need to be. Many simple projects can even be done without a building permit.  

 

 

What building changes can I make without HCAI involvement? 

 

The simplest answer to this question is probably that you shouldn’t make any changes without at least some HCAI involvement. That said, for many types of projects the amount of involvement is limited, and is more a matter of building relationships than building approvals.  

 

An example of this type of project is recarpeting and repainting your lobby. This type of project would likely not require HCAI approval or a building permit. The Freer manual only asks that the Area Compliance Officer (ACO) be notified prior to the start of the project. The ACO will want to confirm that the products you are proposing and the process of getting the work done will not put your residents at risk. They will check that products are not a fire hazard and that you have a plan in place to maintain a safe exit through the area while the work is taking place.  

 

Even if a building permit is not required, design professionals that understand how HCAI works can save you time and money. In the example above experienced designers will know not only which products will meet the fire safety requirements, they will know how to find and package the certifications and other product information HCAI looks for, for easy approval. And while a permitted drawing isn’t needed, a diagram or narrative using industry terminology explaining how the exiting will work can greatly simplify the discussion and avoid unnecessary delays.  

 

 

Did you know that not all HCAI projects require a full building permit review?  

 

Some projects qualify for expedited office review, while others may only require an on-site conversation with your Area Compliance Officer (ACO) and no permit at all. This list gives an idea of when permits may be required, and when a faster process may be available. We identify which process is right for your project and help make sure it qualifies for the simplest path possible. 

 

 

Why does HCAI have a difficult reputation? 

 

HCAI (formerly the Office of Statewide Health and Planning, or OSHPD) came into existence in part in response to the 1971 Sylmar earthquake which caused the collapse of the Olive View Hospital in Sylmar, and Veterans Administration Hospital in San Fernando.  They are responsible for overseeing all healthcare construction in the state of California, with a special emphasis on seismic safety and disaster preparedness.  The 1994 Northridge earthquake proved the effectiveness of the requirements. In that earthquake 11 hospitals collapsed, and others had to be evacuated, but newer hospitals, built in accordance with updated standards suffered only minimal structural damage. 

 

Most buildings are designed for safe exiting for the public, and structural stability for first responders. They are not designed to remain in service after a disaster, or to function while damaged. In hospitals, and to a lesser extent in skilled nursing facilities, the building infrastructure provides life sustaining care which needs to continue to be available in the immediate aftermath of a major seismic event.      

 

Additionally, the needs of hospitals and skilled nursing occupants are very different from most other buildings: many occupants cannot self-evacuate, are not mobile or confined to beds, and the corridors are unfamiliar, these factors and others complicate building life safety planning. The services these buildings provide are needed immediately after, or even during, a major seismic or other disaster event. All these factors demand a higher level of life safety in design.  

 

This higher level of safety means that many products and methods common in the construction industry cannot be used. And many of those that can require much more intensive verification, quality control, and inspection.  Contractors and designers that are not familiar with the requirements are often taken by surprise when products or processes they’ve used on other projects are not allowed, leading to expensive revisions, late projects, and cost overruns. 

 

Careful planning with design professionals and contractors familiar with these constraints can help to mitigate many of these risks. Knowledgeable designers can identify products and processes that have been pre-approved by HCAI. This frees up design time and fees to focus on items not pre-approved, or to develop custom solutions and work with HCAI for approval before construction schedules are impacted.

 

 

  

 

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Repositioning Skilled Nursing Facilities to Adapt to a New Market

November 17, 2023
How (and why) you should reposition your skilled nursing facility.

Skilled Nursing Facilities face numerous challenges in today’s evolving healthcare landscape with low occupancy levels and high operational costs not fully covered by reimbursements. By repositioning resident rooms, amenities, and caregiver operations, facilities can successfully adapt to the changing market and improve quality of life for all. Here are a few ways this can be done.

 

 

Adapt care spaces for an evolving market.

 

Eliminate semi-private rooms. Providing larger, private, more comfortable accommodations promotes better individualized care as well as infection control, thereby reducing required staffing levels.

 

Create tailored environments for care. Convert some skilled nursing units and down license into specialized areas for memory care and assisted living. This helps cater to residents with different needs and creates a tailored and supportive environment outside of the skilled nursing facility.

 

Introduce modern amenities to care suites. Adding amenities to care suites such as showers and built in furniture elevates the overall living experience, promotes independence, and supports caregiver tasks at the point of care. Built-in furniture provides the resident with more storage and display space and also provides staff storage for supplies and equipment.

 

Convert some rooms into specialized care suites. Renovating skilled units into specialized care suites for bariatric or specialized memory care provides increased marketability and flexible, efficient operations.

 

Adapting to transitional care services. Reposition long term care operations in whole or part to provide transitional care to residents recovering from medical procedures or injuries. Upgrade amenities and rooms to increase marketability to healthcare systems.

 

Mirabella ASU

 

Rogue Valley Manor, Meadows of Napa

 

 

Reimagine workspaces to support and assist caregivers.

 

Shift toward decentralized care services. Having decentralized care services in resident settings provides a personalized care experience while making it more efficient for care staff to carry out their tasks. Reimagining the traditional centralized nursing station provides options to break down support areas closer to the resident needing care.

 

Embrace new technologies and point of care design strategies. This makes caregiving more effective and enjoyable. With the right building technological infrastructure care givers can have resident records and care plans on their portable devices to assist the resident in any setting.

 

Utilize ergonomic design. Implementing innovative strategies for handling patients during personal and medical care using ergonomic design to help the well-being of the caregiver and enhance the quality of care provided.  For example, both residents and caregivers can benefit from bathing and toilet facilities that have been designed based on successful assistive care research.

 

Consider employee retention in the design. Update employee areas and programs to improve employee retention. Redesigning staff breakrooms to encourage socialization can provide caregivers the opportunity to recharge outside of resident care areas.

 

 

Mirabella ASU

 

 

Jewish Homes

 

 

Focus on holistic wellness.

 

Modernize food service programs. By providing more choice and variety, the facility can better cater to individual dietary needs and preferences.  Design food services areas to allow for cook to order delivery and allow residents to engage in food preparation. 

 

Incorporate biophilic design strategies. Biophilic design features, such as natural lighting and materials, will enhance residents’ overall wellbeing. Biophilic design can encourage physical activity, facilitate socialization, and increase connection to the natural world.

 

Improve access to nature. Provide spaces and amenity areas that connect the indoors to the outdoors. Rooms that open to outdoor plazas, walking paths, and natural areas can offer residents the opportunity to observe wildlife, experience the changing of the seasons and foster a connection to nature.

 

Incorporate sustainability. Becoming a more sustainable community will benefit both the residents and staff.  Use less energy from your utility and generate more power on site with the use of renewable energy sources like solar.  Many projects can benefit from solar and other renewable energy sources to make the community more resilient in the long term. 

 

Mirabella Portland

 

 

Aegis Overlake

 

 

Maryville Nursing Home, URC Dining

 

 

Wondering how to navigate California’s Office of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI)? Read more here.

 

Interested in meeting our dedicated team of senior renovations experts? Read more here.

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Erdahl

Principal, Director of Senior Communities

jasone@ankrommoisan.com

(503) 977-5235

 

 

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How Lighting Can Influence Resident Health and Wellness in Senior Care Settings

October 30, 2023

Lighting plays an important role in a building’s architecture, as it can enhance a space, create an aesthetic, and draw attention to different elements. But in senior care settings, lighting plays an even bigger role. When used strategically, lighting can influence resident health and wellness, as well as safety. 

 

 

The Role of Lighting in Senior Care Facility Design 

 

AM Principal Chris Ebert explains that as we age, the way our eyes work changes. “When designing for seniors, designers and architects must account for the effects of aging on how a person perceives color, light intensity, the negative effects of glare, and other health-related concerns, all of which can be addressed with the right design,” says Ebert. “Whether it is natural sunlight or specialty indoor lighting, high-quality lighting is proven to have a positive impact on one’s health and wellness. For example, the National Library of Medicine cites that blue lighting can accelerate post-stress relaxation.” 

 

Aegis Living Lake Union

 

 

How Lighting Can Address Health Concerns 

 

“Seniors generally benefit from higher lighting levels, more uniformity, and less glare. Together, these create a safer environment than poorly lit homes, reducing the risk of falls, and minimizing the difficulty of reading medicine labels,” explains Ebert. 

 

Since seniors are more sensitive to glare than younger individuals, designers can reduce that glare with window shades, light shields, and finishes that aren’t overly reflective. “It is also important to provide uniform lighting through careful selection and placement of indirect and shielded direct lighting,” he says. 

 

Circadian lighting can also help improve sleep and reduce agitation and depression. This kind of lighting changes color throughout the day, mimicking the way that sunlight changes during the day. Ebert notes that circadian lighting has also been shown to be especially helpful for seniors with memory issues like Alzheimer’s disease. 

 

 

Best Practices When Designing Lighting for Senior Care Facilities 

 

When designing a senior care facility, Ebert emphasizes the importance of natural light to support resident health and wellbeing. He notes that it’s important to ensure that common areas, living areas, and staff work areas have ample access to natural light. “When practical, designers should have windows on 2 or 3 sides of a room,” he says. “The numerous health benefits of access to natural daylight are undeniable. Science has shown that natural light makes us sharper and happier during the day, provides us with better sleep at night, and helps us recover faster when we get sick. For memory care patients, circadian lighting helps to reinforce the body’s natural rhythms and can help reduce the evening agitation known as sundowning.” 

 

But integrating natural light into a facility also needs to be done strategically. “Bringing daylight indoors in a thoughtful way requires a delicate balance of interdependent variables,” says Ebert. “Simply adding more windows to a building is not a fix-all solution. To properly daylight indoor spaces, designers must balance lighting control, glazing requirements, indoor climate controls, solar heat gain, external views, nighttime darkness, and many other factors.” 

 

Read the full article on I Advance Senior Care. 

 

 

By Chris Ebert, AIA, NCARB 

 

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Creating Active Environments within Senior Living Communities 

September 26, 2023
Design that supports the aging population.

Creating senior living communities with more “active adult” opportunities for residents to engage in is a smart and viable option for many communities. This design concept helps motivate seniors to become more independent and active, encourages socialization among residents, and offers conveniences to staff members at facilities with ongoing staff shortages.  

 

Interested in learning about our design solutions for active communities? Read the full article, written by Jason Erdahl, Principal and Director of Senior Communities at Ankrom Moisan, on Seniors Housing Business. Or continue reading here for a brief summary.  

 

Connection through nature and socialization 

 

The idea of incorporating active environments into assisted living properties is heavily inspired by lifestyle, learning and wellness amenities. When designing these spaces, it is important to offer a variety of choices and to incorporate areas that encourage socialization, connection and spaces that improve one’s well-being. Some of these areas include cafes, theaters and arts and crafts rooms, as well as health and wellness centers with exercise rooms, aerobics spaces and swimming pools.  When creating these active environments for seniors, it is also important to incorporate elements of nature. For example, biophilic elements help support physical and mental wellness with access to the outdoors, natural light, fresh air and materials that are found locally with healthy qualities.  

 

 

Strategically locate amenities 

 

The location of these amenities also helps play a role in promoting an active lifestyle for seniors. A popular design choice many architects and designers integrate within senior living are hubs. These hubs create a centralized grouping of amenities to foster socialization and activity while creating convenience and easy access for residents. The hubs typically contain all the amenities within one area including food services, entertainment, and health and wellness programs.  

 

 

Be adaptable and versatile  

 

In low-acuity care settings, architects and designers must take into account that these spaces are designed for those who are aging. Therefore, creating spaces that are flexible, adaptable and allow for diversity in capability is paramount.  

 

Specifically, when designing activity and amenity spaces, flexibility is key as many buildings do not have the space to accommodate all of the activities that might be beneficial for the residents. Providing common spaces for amenities that can change and adapt throughout the day allows staff and residents to have more fulfilling experiences. For example, a common room can host yoga classes in the morning and then bingo that afternoon. 

 

 

Build tech-savvy spaces 

 

Technology plays a huge role in senior living design and in encouraging residents to be more active. We are designing buildings with technology infrastructures, with both wired and wireless technologies, to accommodate the increase in device usage. Smart-home technologies and building automation for fixtures, appliances and systems allow residents to not only be more connected and engage in more fitness activities but feel safer with tech devices that monitor their health. 

 

Read the full article on Seniors Housing Business >

 

 

 

By Jason Erdahl, Principal and Director of Senior Communities

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Interior Design Trend Report

September 11, 2023
Findings from NeoCon and Milan Design Week 2023

Commercial design trade shows and exhibitions, NeoCon and Milan Design Week, both took place recently, showcasing the latest interior design trends. Ankrom Moisan interior designers Jenna Mogstad and Clare Goddard were able to make an in-person appearance at NeoCon while our material librarians Rian Macleod and Liza Meek kept a close eye on what was happening at Milan Design Week. Our team took plenty of notes and have reported back to share the top design trends and takeaways from both events that we expect to see more of in the coming year —from color palettes to furniture trends.

 

Clare and Jenna at NeoCon

 

Clare and Jenna at NeoCon 2023.

 

 

NeoCon Banner

 

Reporting back with the top design trends from NeoCon, Clare and Jenna observed new developments in designing for purpose. The two designers noticed shifts in everything from flexibility and connection to collaboration and sustainability.

 

Flexibility and Playfulness

 

NeoCon demonstrated new ways of thinking about flexibility and playfulness. Traveling furniture designed to be revised and reshaped to suit today’s hybrid schemes, where different teams occupy an office on rotating days, highlighted the significance of fluidity and multi-purpose design in today’s post-pandemic world.

 

Neocon Flexibility

 

 

Connection and Disconnection

 

Another design innovation stemming from the fallout of the pandemic – as well as breakthroughs in automation – centers on connection and disconnection. While we move towards an increased pace of technological advancement, the desire for a human touch is growing. Equity in connection while optimizing all views and participants is extremely important in this regard.

 

Neocon connection

 

 

Collaboration Fatigue 

 

Another concern is collaboration fatigue, which is the idea that people may tire themselves out through too much collaboration without an impactful increase in productivity. To combat this, there is a push for more private refuge spots and for more privacy in general in workspaces, the benefits of which are an increased ability to accommodate heads-down focus work and a boost in productivity.

 

Neocon Collaboration 1

Neocon Collaboration 2

 

 

Sustainability

 

Sustainability was another hot topic at this year’s NeoCon. One trend we noticed within the realm of sustainability was circularity and “behind the scenes partnerships.” Items that are typically discarded, such as milk cartons and fashion textiles, are increasingly being reused and utilized in new products – whether they are by the same parent company or a different partner company that can make use of those materials. Products intended to be somewhat disposable are employing biodegradable materials to shorten their decomposition lifespan and reduce waste.

 

We also saw that brands are increasingly bringing their sustainability points to the foreground of their marketing. Selling points such as recyclability, repurposed materials, and carbon footprint were leveraged to increase brand and product affinity. Some of the product designs that were advertised in this manor were 3D-printed on demand, meaning that there is no excess product waste waiting to be purchased. Other products were created from biodegradable plant waste and other natural materials. In all cases, we saw a shift towards conscientious, sustainable designs that put the planet and the environment ahead of maximizing profits.

 

Neocon Sustainability 1

Neocon sustainability 2

 

 

Milan Design Week Banner

 

The insights discovered at Milan Design Week were equally exciting. Breaking down the top trends from the exhibition, Rian and Liza took note of new directions in materials, color trends, designs, as well as creative process innovations.

 

Material Transparency and Circularity

 

For use of materials, it is expected that claims of sustainability are credible. Transparency around the source of materials is essential. We noticed a celebration of timeless sustainability in circular supply chains and processes, meaning that materials are recovered and re-used in new products. Additionally, the focus on sustainability at the end of a product’s life has led to an increase in the use of single-material structures, making it easier to repair and recycle them.

 

Y2K Materials

 

 

Juxtaposition: Earthy and Digital

 

Many of the surfaces we saw in the coverage of trends at Milan Design Week were digitally amplified with illuminated, glossy, cyber-inspired finishes. Juxtaposed textures in woven and braided natural materials, as well as basketing, highlighted earthly delights. Soft, cozy fabrics were very popular as well, mostly made from sheepskin, boucle, and other shaggy textures.

 

Design week juxtaposition 1

Design week Juxtaposition 2

 

 

Vintage-Inspired Palettes

 

Color was another big trend this year. The biggest movement we saw in this field was a resurgence of vintage-inspired palettes and patterns. Retro geometry straight out of the 80s was seen through a surge of digital effects and dynamic finishes that feels new and captivating. The shapes, which are both futurist and graphic, are lively and loud. 70s-inspired tones such as warm, earthy neutrals and terra cotta were often combined with colors like red, yellow, orange, and blue.

 

Design week vintage 1

Design week vintage 2

Design week vintage 3

 

 

Comfort and Curves

 

As for furniture design, there were three key trends that we noticed. Curves and voluptuous, evolving shapes were leaned on to promote comfort across product launches. Soft surfaces and quiet spaces enveloped chairs with generous proportions. Seating was also ergonomic. Wide arms were often draped over light frames to create airy silhouettes. Lastly, we saw the return of the uber-comfortable 70s-inspired conversation pit and other pit-style seating options that promote communal lounging.

 

Design week curves 1

Design week curves 2

Design week curves 3

 

Surreal Lighting

 

Lighting was another area of novelty, seen in stunning installations. Flexible adaptability for creating playful, somewhat surreal atmospheres made for an imaginative experience. Water-filled basins were used to create surface patterns with light and sound, similar to the liquid light shows popular during the psychedelic 60s.

 

Design week lighting

 

 

Biophilia

 

Biophilic design was prevalent as an approach that emphasizes the connection between people and nature. The philosophy is that by bringing the outside in, design can promote wellbeing and creativity for end-users of a space.

 

Design week biophilia

 

Embracing Technological Innovation

 

The industry innovations we saw at Milan Design week spanned everything from the natural to the computerized. Many breakthroughs were pioneered by machines. AI and 3D printing software were utilized in collaboration with the physical world to innovate new unique design approaches and solutions. For example, 3D printed stainless steel is lighter and requires much less energy to produce than typical stainless steel. Further exploration and creativity were unleashed by patterned silhouettes created by AI software.

 

Design week tech advancements

 

If these trends from Milan Design Week and NeoCon 2023 are indicative of anything, it’s that designers are looking ahead toward the future of technology and ecologically sustainable design, while taking inspiration from the shapes, forms, colors, and patterns of the past. At the terminus of future and past, design innovation is progressing by leaps and bounds. We are excited to see what comes next, and even more excited to be a part of the ongoing transformation of innovative design.

 

Rian Macleod Headshot    Liza Meek Medium

 

By Rian Macleod and Liza Meek, Materials Library Coordinators

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Getting Involved in the Interior Design Industry

August 1, 2023
The Benefits of Joining the IIDA

Three members of our interiors department, Roberta Pennington, Clare Goddard and Jessica Kirshner, discuss their experience with the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and how their involvement in the organization has propelled their professional careers. 

 

 

Left to right: Jessica Kirshner, Maddy Gorman, Clare Goddard, Roberta Pennington, and Jenna Mogstad at an IIDA event

 

 

Q: What’s your experience with IIDA? How were you involved?  

 

Roberta: I have been an IIDA member since graduating (the second time) in 2001. My first event was an awards breakfast at the Governor Hotel in PDX also in 2001; I didn’t know anyone, but the Members were super friendly and welcoming.  

I attended MANY events consequently then stepped up my volunteer time to the Board in 2009. I dove into the President Elect role during a time when Members, including myself, did not have jobs. IIDA gave me the stability and connection I was missing during the year I was unemployed.  

After my Presidency, I stayed on as a Chapter Advisor and most recently came back to serve on the Board with the Advocacy team. I’ve been involved in one way or another with finding legal recognition for commercial interior design in Oregon since 2003, and I want to continue to be a part of the momentum gaining speed nationally. It’s an exciting time for interior designers on the legal front. 

 

Clare: I have been involved on the board for a little under 5 years (started October of 2018) first as the VP of Communications and then moved into President-Elect/President/Past President roles.  

 

Jessica: I started with IIDA in college, I was on the student board as the fundraising chair. Once I graduated and was hired on full time at AM, I joined the Oregon Chapter Board as the Director of Social Media and I have held this position for the past 2 years.  

 

 

 

 

Q: How did membership in IIDA benefit you professionally? 

 

Roberta: Networking! I can go anywhere locally and nationally, and a complete network of design leaders are available to tap.  

I became much more active during the Recession in 2009 when I stepped up to be President-Elect. The network of people on the Board were instrumental in getting my name to the top of a list of persons to hire when firms were not hiring. I’m very grateful to this group. 

I also got to know women in the profession who were and still are my mentors and friends. Their experiences showed me having a child does not mean the end of my career. Women don’t have to “act like a man” to be taken serious. Speaking my mind does not make me a “bitch.” AND: I’m a very entertaining public speaker. Very liberating. 

 

Clare: Prior to joining the board (and when I was in San Diego), I credit IIDA with connecting me to potential employers and creating a sense of community in a city where I knew no one. Joining the board here in Oregon has greatly improved my leadership and delegation skills. It has also helped me to create a sense of community here in Portland, beyond AM. I consider it a privilege to have served this design community on the board in helping to be the face of interior design for the state of Oregon. Being part of the board, in any capacity, is how I give back to the profession that I am so passionate about.  

 

Jessica: I have been able to attend countless events that have both inspired me and helped me professionally. These ranged from forums to socials. Each event hitting on a different and important topic in our industry. It has also been a great networking opportunity that has allowed me to connect with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.  

 

 

 

 

Q: What’s your most memorable moment from your time in IIDA? 

 

Roberta: A standing ovation at the Annual Celebration 2010 at Ziba. I delivered my incoming President speech. I wasn’t sure I was coming in with the right message; that being “We’re not dead; we will get thru this Recession somehow.”  When the room of people stood up, clapped, and cheered, I knew I was going to be okay. The CEO of IIDA National was there and told me she would never go on after me again. A real head-swelling moment. 

 

Clare: That has to be the CLCs (Chapter Leaders Conferences) held in Chicago and regionally. I love getting to connect with leaders from other chapters across the US! It was amazing to learn from others and to make new friends. The CLCs will be what I miss the most post-presidency. 

 

Jessica: I don’t necessarily have a specific moment but getting to serve on board with such amazing people has been so motivating. It’s helped me to grow in so many ways. I’m so thankful to have been on the board.  

 

 

 

 

Q: How did AM support your involvement?  

 

Roberta: In my Board involvement, AM has reimbursed annual dues as well as allocated time for volunteering. My current role as VP of Advocacy means I’m spending time meeting with committees, legislators, consultants, and peers often. I can keep my PTO for actual vacation time. 

AM has also been an annual sponsor to the Chapter every year an employee has served on the Board. That sponsorship is instrumental in keeping the Chapter going. 

Leadership has also written letters to legislators during recent pushes for legal recognition of interior design. This small act shows the value AM places on my education, experience, the NCIDQ, and what I bring to the table as a commercial interior designer.  

 

Clare: AM is one of the more supportive firms in the state. They not only encourage employees to be on the board, but back up that support by paying for IIDA membership and providing 2 paid hours per week for board tasks for those serving on the board. I count myself very lucky to have such a supportive firm.  

Also, I think because of that support, Ankrom has had consistently the highest number of people serving on the board (this past year, there were five AM’ers on the board). We always joke that House Ankrom is taking over. Additionally, not only has AM supported individual board members, but they have also lent us the office for multiple board retreats and board events. 

 

Jessica: AM was completely supportive throughout my time on the board, as well as everyone else in the interiors department who was on the board. The interiors leadership team encouraged us to attend IIDA meetings and events and would even show up to events in support.  

 

 

 

 

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Get to Know the AM Student Housing Team

July 25, 2023
A Q&A with Alissa Brandt & Matt Janssen

Two of our Student Housing studio leaders, Alissa Brandt and Matt Janssen, give us insight into the unique joys and challenges of designing student housing. They touch on Gen Z expectations, trend forecasting, sources of inspiration and what’s next for student housing.

 

 

 

 

Alissa Brandt, Interior Designer, VP of Interiors

 

 

Q: What do you like best about designing student housing?

 

A: This particular market is always evolving based on what is happening in the world and how these influences affect them personally.The research is fascinating; students’ wants and needs are highly reflective of the current economic trends, environmental challenges, and social justice structure of their communities. They are pushing back on the status quo and are committed to making a difference for themselves and for others. They demand sustainability, are financially savvy and want real authentic design, not products that mimic the real thing and they are so openminded and fluid. 

 

 

 

Verve Bloomington

 

 

Q: What’s something that has you excited about future work in this sector? What trends are you seeing?  

 

A: Design remains on the cusp of what is next. Gen Z doesn’t want what everyone else has, they want what comes next. They are clever and creative and so multi-experiential.Designing for Gen Z requires you to consider all of the possible ways different people may do the same thing and tailor a design to allow each person to embrace spaces as their own. It is about creating opportunities for connection, engaged active behavior, solo thoughtful work, and everything in between for EACH person. One size does not fit all, and their lifestyles require flexibility be built into their environment. Wellness is a major consideration in designing for Gen Z. This generation prioritizes the need to take care of themselves, they crave access to nature, and they think about their health holistically not just physical wellness, but emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being are all equally important.

 

 

Q: What’s uniquely challenging about designing student housing? 

 

A: The obvious answer is timing. Everything revolves around the opening date. You simply don’t have any flexibly in delivering this product as students have signed contracts and school is starting, but that is more logistics and process.  

 

The more interesting challenges are understanding what students wants are specific to the University location. What drew them to this particular college/university? You have to dig in, research, and understand the regional and local context in order to find ways to celebrate those, while also being mindful to not over commit to this as a concept as not everyone finds the same idea appealing.   

 

The other fun challenge is staying relevant and up to date on trends, what does the demographic want and expect right now? And even more important, anticipating how these desires will morph over the next 2-3 years while the project is in design and construction. There is a delicate balance between being trendy and being relevant. That is the job of the designer to decipher and implement and anticipate the future needs and wants of the residents. 

 

 

Union on Broadway

 

 

Q: What inspires you?

 

A: Creating spaces where students begin the next phase of their life. This is the first time many are away from home, family and friends and there is uncertainty but there is also tremendous excitement around what the future might bring and what opportunities they will find. Many will have experiences that they look back on for many years. This time in their lives shapes who they become. They develop lifelong friendships and find their own voice. It is really important to me that the design we provide elevates the experience these students have.Connection to the community, the university and to each other are so important to having a successful experience and we, as designers, have the opportunity to design these opportunities into these buildings.We research trends, demographics and psychographics so that we can provide spaces that are experiential, flexible and adaptable to the ever-changing needs of the residents. We get to consider all the types of people and personalities that will use the space and work to create design solutions that appeal to everyone. We always aim to create spaces that evoke emotion and feeling while also making them feel safe and secure. 

 

 

 

 

Matt Janssen, Architect, Design Principal

 

 

Q: What do you like best about designing student housing?

 

A: Designing a building which becomes “home” for someone leaving their family for the first time, or living in their own apartment for the first time off campus, while they pursue an education which will change their life forever, is invigorating. It is exciting to imagine the effect a place or space you design will have on student success and on an overall campus community.

 

 

Q: What’s something that has you excited about future work in this sector? What trends are you seeing?

 

A: There are two areas which I am very excited about right now: the effect design can have on student wellness, both mental and physical, and the ability for design, and the design process, to open up and create an environment of community inclusion and a sense of belonging wherein all are heard, all are seen, and all are appreciated for who they are and what they bring to the table. The developments in green technologies, including mass timber systems and the inclusion of biophilia in student housing, is exciting especially when thinking about student wellness.

 

 

Cadence

 

 

Q: What’s a memorable moment from your career?

 

A: When the Cadence first opened, seeing the two buildings greet us coming into downtown Tucson surrounded by the new streetcar, bikes, and pedestrian activity, it was exciting to see the realization of everyone’s hard work to bring this vibrant, mixed-use, urban experience to this gateway location. That being said, the opportunity for my daughter to move into The Standard at Seattle this upcoming fall is going to be quite memorable. Having her live in a building I designed is both exciting and nerve-wracking.

 

 

The Standard at Seattle

 

 

Q: What’s uniquely challenging about designing student housing?

 

A: Universities run on an annual schedule which does not change. As a result, projects must open on time and ready to go, typically by fall term. This creates an environment wherein decisions must be made quickly and efficiently. Being able to pivot, strategize, and problem solve when change happens is invigorating. Communicating with multiple stakeholders to understand everyone’s point of view, what their needs are, and how we can symbiotically mesh the various uses (residential, learning, offices, amenities, …) into a singular, holistic design which helps support student success is as rewarding as architecture gets for me.

 

 

Q: What interesting changes have you seen in this sector over the years?

 

A: It is exciting to see conversations of community and pedestrian activity be more of a topic of discussion rather than automobile parking. More and more, the design of alternative means of transportation in and around campuses, and how student housing ties into and supports those systems, will be critical now and in the coming years.

 

 

 

Vi Hilbert Hall at Seattle University

 

 

Want to get to know more of the Student Housing Team? Learn about Jason Jones and Cindy Schaumberg here. 

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