Dan DeWeese

Architecture, Inspiration, Interior Design, People, Projects /

Movement in Design: 6 Ways to Encourage Movement in Our Designs

In a previous blog post, Lisa Morrison, Lawrence Group workplace designer, shared her experiences with a radical idea dubbed “the standing meeting.” After struggling to find a place for a “normal” sit down meeting due to conference room demand, her team decided to move counter-culturally and stand for the meeting. They had a quicker, more productive meeting and enjoyed the change.

This idea of incorporating movement into design is not so new. People have begun to realize that we sit a lot, and that it might not be so good for your health. If you think about it, we do spend a lot of time seated. As an office worker, your typical day probably looks something like this: You commute to work, seated. You sit at your desk, seated. You go to lunch and sit. Back to your desk, sit, attend a meeting, sit, drive home, sit. And, if you just feel worn out after a long day, relax and watch some Netflix, while you sit.

Sitting really isn’t the problem though. The extended periods of sitting, creating a lack of movement in your day, is the real problem. One of my favorite coaches, Dr. Kelly Starrett, mobility expert and personal trainer, says that the best position to be in is the next position. Basically, we should always be in motion. Our bodies were made for it. Here are some ways that we as designers can encourage more movement and activity with our designs.

1. Encourage an alternative commute. Now, we really can’t change your commute, but we can encourage people to do something different. First, consider the location of your building. Locating near a public transit route and within a walkable neighborhood can make alternative commutes such as walking or biking more achievable. By providing facilities for bicycle parking, showers, lockers, etc., in a workplace there are limited barriers to riding your bike to and from work. This could mean a bike parking area to lock up your bike outside, or even better, inside to protect them from the elements. More than half of Americans, 55%, say they would like to walk/ride rather than drive more throughout the day either for exercise or to get to specific places. (http://brspoll.com/uploads/files/walkingrelease.pdf)

2. Showcase the stair not the elevator. When designing, we often consider the stair for code purposes only, tucked in the back corner and used only in emergencies. The elevator is the main means of transportation between floors. In buildings of two to four floors, occupants will often feel more compelled to take the stairs knowing that the task is not overly daunting and would be faster than waiting for the elevator. Not true for skyscrapers.

  • LEED v4 Pilot Credit 78 Design for Active Occupants gives credits for design considerations that encourage users to take the stairs.
  1. Providing at least 50% of tenant floors access to a “primary stair”
  2. Locating the stair within proximity to the lobby edge
  3. Making the stair visible before the elevator
  4. Providing generous width to this stair over the code minimums
  • Highlight Circulation Paths: Making circulation paths more stimulating visually/aesthetically helps to encourage movement throughout the day. Adding visual stimulation such as artwork, views, and amenities along the circulation paths makes movement more enjoyable by allowing the mind to wonder instead of focusing on the end destination.

3. Provide Workstation Options –If you’re like me, sitting all day is tough to do. I need to move. I get up and walk around, do some stretches, then return to my seat. I would love the option to work standing up or sitting down. When choosing furniture, consider a blend of heights. Standing or variable height workstations facilitate standing meetings, conversations, etc.

4. Outdoor Walking Amenities/Site Destinations – Adding an outdoor amenity or destination helps in welcoming visitors and encourages passing through or to these items. This could be a water feature, a plaza, a garden, outdoor walking path, or just as simple as a bench or cluster of table and chairs. A walking path trail is a nice addition to any outdoor space.

5. Incentivize – Engaged/healthy employees often participate in extracurricular activities focused around fitness. Consider supplementing the cost of programs like gym memberships to show as an owner/employer that you are devoted to their health and well-being.

6. Provide a Dedicated Activity Space – Sometimes people can’t make it to the gym and would prefer to participate in activities with their coworkers. Providing a dedicated space for recreational activities and fitness facilitates movement in the design. WELL design also gives credit for dedicating such a space for exercise over 200 square feet.

 

 

 

Architecture, Interior Design /

Lighting: A Path to Health

Sleep is essential to health and just plain awesome. It regulates hormone cycles, recovers the muscles, and promotes rejuvenating and balancing effects on the digestive system, immune system, and nervous systems. Chances are you are not getting enough of it. This could be caused by many things, but one of the most overlooked factors affecting your quality and quantity of sleep is light.

Our bodies have evolved to tune into the rhythms of day and night. This biological rhythm, or internal clock, is called the circadian rhythm. It tells your body when to be awake and when to sleep. The primary control of the circadian system comes from an external source — light. We wake up to bright sunlight, are awake during daylight hours, calm down at dusk as light levels decrease and rest during darkness. You may have noticed how your mood can vary greatly from sunny to overcast days.  During fall/winter months, people often complain of seasonal affectedness, with symptoms similar to depression, due to the short duration of daylight. This is due to the diminished amount of light received at the eye during these times and can have negative effects on a person’s health.

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Inspiration /

ReDesign to Make it Better

Perennial is a local St. Louis non-profit organization doing some great things. Their mission is to build a creative culture of sustainability by transforming discarded items into valued and cherished resources. Through their mission, they aim to teach people to creatively reuse objects in order to divert waste from landfills, foster thoughtful consumerism and generate revenue to support the underserved. Under this mission Perennial challenged the community of designers, crafters, and local architects to participate in their “ReDesign” Challenge. This annual challenge coincides with their annual “Lost + F(o)und” fundraiser to auction off the completed pieces.

Lawrence Group was up to the challenge. We put together two teams, got our “Lost” objects, and set off to “Find” something great hidden in them. Each team conceptualized, analyzed the materials, and came up with a plan. One of the most fun parts of this challenge was getting to know and collaborate with people from all different areas of the organization that we do not get to work with regularly and put something together with everyone’s unique skills. The objective is to only use the materials that come with the table and put the new item together using only fasteners and tools already owned. (more…)

Architecture /

Designing Forgiveness

Design perfection requires intentional forgiveness. I am going to let you in on little secret in our profession. We are not perfect!  Okay, well maybe that’s not a secret! We are a peculiar bunch of people with an O.C.D. like complex for perfection. If we had it our way: buildings would always be the right shape and size! Drawings would be the most perfectly clear, complete set of instructions, and contractors would ask ZERO questions, finishing with perfect execution. The end result would be a magnificently crafted building with perfectly plumb and straight walls, all gaps perfect, parallel and pointed.

But unfortunately, that won’t happen. It can’t happen, at least while humans are still involved in construction (remember we aren’t perfect). Here is how I propose we solve that problem so that things turn out “perfectly.” We design in forgiveness. Examples of this idea are evident in almost every product and every design solution. Materials are always imperfect, substrates bowed, corners not square, walls not plumb, and lines untrue. The idea is to accept these imperfections, even embrace them, and provide construction detailing with forgiveness in the design so that when constructed it looks perfectly intentional.

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Architecture, Inspiration, Interior Design /

We can’t do it all

Oftentimes in architecture we are challenged by a project or client to do something truly special to make a place an amazing destination. As designers, we also relish opportunities where we have the freedom to design with custom details and high end products and finishes – producing a destination focused around the architectural elements in a space.

However, an all-architecture solution is not always the best design prescription, and something else needs to happen to better capture the essence of the client, project or site. We must humbly take a step back and realize that we are not the star of the show. We are the directors of the show delivering a fantastic performance from a cohesive cast.

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