September 2023 | Dana Nunn, FASID, IIDA, LEED AP, WELL AP
I am naturally curious and have long been a proponent of research in design. Whether peer-reviewed academic studies1, industry literature scans2, surveys, observations, organizational business data mining, or stakeholder interviews, data gathering gives way to insights that influence design approaches, strategies, solutions, implementation, and ultimately outcomes.
Workplace design provides so many opportunities to employ a human-centered, evidence-based approach to impact occupant health, wellbeing, satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. Time and again, research illustrates these elements relate directly to bottom-line metrics that provide a compelling business case for good, thoughtful, experiential design in any market sector.
Before the pandemic and a shift to remote working temporarily stalled many things, Bettisworth North was already involved in predesign efforts for a new workspace to support our growing multidisciplinary staff and integrative project approach. Fresh insights and new challenges bubbled to the surface as we emerged from the pandemic, challenging previous notions of what we needed and how we defined success.
Insights derived from industry research and participation in national research-focused committees and international task forces spurred new questions and ideas to explore. We endeavored to refine, and sometimes redefine, the value of the physical office. We imagined how to leverage a physical space as a tool to better serve our firm, staff, project partners, clients, and community.
At the end of last year Bettisworth North committed to a major move for our Anchorage office. Agreements were signed, design was completed, drawings submitted for plan review and permit, vendor and contractor partners engaged, and construction initiated. Because we devoted so much time and energy to extensive predesign investigation and exploration, we were able to identify project goals and rapidly develop the design. As my own personal interest in workplace design has grown, the project became a very exciting opportunity.
Earlier this summer we pared down and packed up our things and moved across the parking lot to our new office in Denali Tower North. There is so much to share about our new space! Every detail is purposeful, supporting project and firm goals and providing tools to better mentor young design professionals and serve our clients. We’ll share some of our project design drivers here and dive deeper at another time. Please stop by to experience it all for yourself!
- Support employee health through indoor air quality, ergonomics, safety, glare management, and a respite/mother’s space.
- Foster employee wellbeing through biophilia3, encouraging movement, empowering agency, and providing a dedicated space to take a break from work.
- Accommodate neurodiversity by minimizing negative visual and acoustic distractions, encouraging movement, and enabling a flexible, hybrid model.
- Support productivity through activity-based workplace design: variety of settings for a range of solo and collaborative tasks and activities, users empowered to choose what is best for the activity at hand.
- Encourage integrative design and a culture of mentorship through open office layout, strategic workstation assignments, and varied collaboration spaces.
Experiential Design (Branded Design)
· Aspirational: Forward-looking while recognizing where we’ve come from as a legacy Alaska firm.
· Focus on creating an experience that embodies Bettisworth North’s core values: Alaska Spirit | Balance | Holistic Design | Genuine Partnership
· Creating the kinds of spaces we want to be known for and that we would recommend for occupants of the spaces we design.
· Favoring subtle nods and experience over overt branding by logo application.
· Finishes, features, imagery, graphics, and room names inspired by concepts and elements that influenced the Bettisworth North logo and branding:
o Simple, but modern
o Celebrate light!
o Circular imagery as a reference to the Bettisworth North golden circle and a nod to the interconnectedness of our core values
o Acoustical “water” feature alluding to the element of water and abstract imagery of water as it falls over stones in glacial streams and along shorelines
o Acoustical “birch” screen feature leveraging an abstract birch forest to separate activity zones much like screening elements are introduced in a landscape design
o “Of This Place” – the theme that informed our environmental graphics and signage program, including naming collaboration destinations like the Chugach and Knik conference rooms, the Fireweed, Boreal, and Susitna huddle rooms, and our Solstice phone booth
Design for Sustainability and Wellness
- WELL Building Standard as a guide for strategies to influence health, wellbeing, and productivity, in context of the Seven Concepts of WELL4: Air | Water | Nourishment | Light | Fitness | Comfort | Mind
- LEED Building Standard as a guide for sustainability and stewardship: Water Efficiency | Energy and Atmosphere | Materials and Resources | Indoor Environmental Quality
Now three months into the new space, we are learning how to use and enjoy our surroundings in expected and surprising ways. And we can appreciate first-hand the ups and downs of the design, construction, and transition processes our clients experience with every project.
We’re eager to share the new space with our design partners and look forward to realizing lessons learned and insights that can be applied in our work with clients across Alaska.
- Transdisciplinary Workplace Research network https://www.twrnetwork.org/ ↩︎
- ASID Insights Briefs https://www.asid.org/insights-briefs ↩︎
- 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/ ↩︎
- International WELL Building Institute https://www.wellcertified.com/ ↩︎