i+D - May/June 2019 - 38

Flexible, Functional Workplaces - By Sheila Kim

Wellness Is Gaining Momentum
Just like sustainable design, which grew from a niche category into a universal
one, occupant wellness is rapidly becoming a norm. It's a logical transition
given there's a major LEED category encompassing air quality, thermal
conditions, and acoustic comfort, all of which impact the occupant experience.
In 2014, more than a decade after the launch of LEED, the International
WELL Building Standard from the International WELL Building Institute was
established, encouraging architects and their clients to go further in designing
people-centric workplaces. WELL proposed such elements as biophilia,
lifestyle amenities, and healthy cafeteria menus to improve an employee's
overall health. Although WELL trails behind LEED currently (LEED is 14 years
older, after all), WELL is no slouch, reporting 174 WELL certified projects
and 1,514 WELL registered projects at press time. And, according to some
firms, that number will likely grow with changing workforce demographics.
"The focus on wellness is an outgrowth of interest in a sustainable workplace,
but it is also a result of the demographic priorities of millennials who are
more focused on health and wellbeing," says Paul Eagle, the Perkins+Will
principal who led the Unilever design team and gleaned information from
internal research. (At the time of this writing, the Unilever project is tracking
WELL Gold certification.) In addition to the environmental factors, the project
promotes physical and mental health via a revamped cafeteria offering
healthier choices, a professionally staffed fitness center, and private rooms
anyone can use for a video-led stretching session or meditation.
The Marketplace, meanwhile, helps replenish energy and also creates brand
awareness among the Unilever family: A kiosk serves Lipton and Tazo tea
beverages; hair-product brand TIGI runs an on-site salon; and an employee
shop sells reduced-price products, such as Dove body wash, Bed Head
hairspray, Knorr seasoning, and Seventh Generation paper towels. As
the world's biggest ice cream producer, the company, of course, treats staff
to complimentary products that help take the edge off a hard day's work.
An open and unmanned ice cream parlor-like station in the Marketplace
rotates the selections, so an employee can snatch up a Fudgsicle bar or
Klondike ice cream sandwich one day and a classic Breyers strawberry
or loaded Ben & Jerry's Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core another.

Among the many
Unilever amenities
is a tea bar kiosk
that provides
employees with the
company's namebrand beverages.
(Image: Garrett Rowland)

38

At Capital One,
even staircases allow
natural light to pass
through, while natural
materials further the
concept of bringing
the outdoors in.
(Image: Jarrett Hendrix)

Neither Capital One nor Shopify are pursuing WELL certification, but both
certainly emphasize occupant wellbeing. Capital One actually has an in-house
design team that utilizes employee surveys to help devise new building
or renovation plans aimed at keeping staff happy and healthy. These findings
informed the new Tysons tower. "Design choices, programs, and facilities
that foster wellbeing are becoming an expectation instead of a nice-to-have
feature," says Erin Mical, the company's senior director of workplace
solutions. "We recognize when people have balance in their lives, they are
better equipped to bring their whole selves to work and provide the best
products and services to our customers."
Working with HKS and CallisonRTKL, Mical's team implemented the flexibility
that workers require, along with wellness-oriented programs and spaces:
Cafes offer healthier meal options at a lower price compared to other
foods; a large-scale fitness center also hosts classes and personal training;
"mindfulness rooms" provide quiet for meditation or prayer; lactation rooms
afford new mothers the privacy to pump; a fully furnished outdoor roof deck
offers tranquility and a connection to nature; and a regulation-size basketball
court promotes group fitness-and, perhaps, even camaraderie. The
abundant natural light and views of treetops add a biophilic element, while
original artwork, such as a vibrant site-specific installation by mixed-media
artist Gabriel Dawe, presents views of a different nature.
"The health and wellbeing of employees is extremely important today,"
agrees Linebox Studio Founder Andrew Reeves. "Employers are competing
globally for skilled individuals, and the companies committed to the wellbeing
of staff have a better chance of attracting and retaining top talent." The
Shopify offices achieve this not only through providing workspace variety,
but also by imbuing a comfy residential feel-carving out spaces with
incredible natural light and views and presenting recreational areas, such
as a yoga studio and meditation rooms. Truly inventive, whimsical settings
also help employees unwind and restore creative juices. In the Elgin Street
location in Ottawa, Ontario, for instance, there's a 1920s speakeasy-style
library defined by a dark moody palette, an outdoorsy floor with cedar-andcopper "tents," and a sauna-inspired meeting room with multilevel seating
platforms of slatted wood.

i+D - May/June 2019



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https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/id/20211112
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https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/id/20210506
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/id/20210304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20210102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20201112_french
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200910_french
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/asid/design_product_guide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200708_french
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20191112_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190506_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190304_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190102_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20181112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20181112_french
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180506_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180304
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