Do you want to create designs that positively impact your client's well-being?
When planning its new corporate office, Vitality also had mental and physical health top of mind. The world's largest behavior engagement platform wanted to achieve WELL Gold certification as a testament to their commitment to a healthy lifestyle. So, they employed the expertise of geniant + Eastlake Studio and JLL to make their dream a reality.
In this post, you'll learn about Vitality's new office, but before we dive into specifics, let's review the WELL Building Standard and how it can create healthier spaces.
What’s a WELL Certification?
WELL certifications recognize that wellness design is much more than just brick-and-mortar solutions — wellness design is about people. In fact, the WELL Building Standard includes measures to promote the well-being of the body and mind.
A WELL certification, according to their site, "Demonstrates your commitment to well-being by earning the highest pinnacle of health achievement" across 10 categories. These 10 categories include Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind, and Community.
WELL's list looks at how things like communal spaces can positively impact people's lives. And, as a third-party, performance-based certification, a WELL certification requires a Performance Verification agent to visit the site to ensure that all the necessary health considerations are — and will continue to be met.
Vitality’s New, WELL Gold-Certified Corporate Office
To bring Vitality’s dream of a WELL-certified office to life, geniant + Eastlake Studio partnered with Uma Patwardhan, JLL’s senior sustainability project manager, to ensure a Gold certification was achieved.
“We were brought into the fold early in the schematic design stage to carry out the feasibility study for the WELL certification. At that time, the client told us that, as a global health and well-being company committed to making people healthier, they’d like their return-to-work strategy to center around creating a space where people wanted to be,” said Patwardhan.
To perform the feasibility study, Patwardhan conducted a WELL workshop with the entire project team to get a better understanding of the current design intent, design and procurement guidelines, and Vitality’s HR policies. Patwardhan familiarized the team with WELL requirements and identified the strategies that could be integrated into the project to achieve the desired WELL certification.
“At the end of the feasibility study,” Patwardhan said, “it was determined that the space could earn WELL Gold, and that would be a huge achievement.” Based on the WELL workshop and the results of a gap analysis to determine the current and future desired state, a WELL Action Plan was created that included actionable recommendations and any potential incremental costs or schedule implications for achieving certification most efficiently and economically.
Patwardhan then shared the plan with the entire project team so that every stakeholder aligned with the client's goals.
Focusing primarily on the Light, Sounds, Nourishment, and Movement categories, Nicole Tabata, architect + director, and other geniant + Eastlake Studio team members then began modifying the floor plan. Access to drinking water, for example, became a far greater priority.
“There were things that changed about the design early in the design process that helped us meet these requirements. That continued all the way through to construction drawings and specifications. We selected light fixtures that had certain color rendering index, glare requirements, flicker requirements, so it came down to the little details as well,” said Tabata.
Primary working areas were located within 20 feet of windows to provide natural light, and considerations were made for noise sources to keep sound out of quiet zones, using distance and acoustically absorbent materials such as k13 acoustic spray applied on the exposed ceiling structure.
Such soundproofing helped resolve the design challenge of creating private “Me” spaces that coexist within the same office as more active “We” spaces.
Some decisions had nothing to do with the office’s floor plan or materials. The site selection, namely, garnered plenty of points to help achieve the certification goal. The office location is easily walkable and within close proximity to Chicago’s iconic Union Station, helping meet the project’s Movement goals.
“All these things go into a healthy workplace, employee satisfaction, and well-being,” said Tabata.
Creating Vitality’s Dream Workspace with the Help of Vectorworks Architect
“The very first part of the WELL process is submitting documentation,” said Tabata. “So, we did all our drafting and modeling of this program in Vectorworks.”
As part of the WELL certification submission, geniant + Eastlake Studio created several diagrams, including the distance of working spaces to exterior windows, walking distance to drinking water sources, and the quiet and loud zones.
Vectorworks Architect helped the team document all of these wellness considerations, in addition to helping them perform accurate measurements and calculations.
The BIM software — and its data-rich nature — has been a crucial part of geniant + Eastlake Studio’s design process since they switched from their previous software. And given all the additional planning and documentation that had to be done to achieve a WELL Gold certification, this project for Vitality was no exception.
Drinking water promotion
Acoustic zones diagram
Designing for Wellness — Not a Trend, a Necessity
Vitality, geniant + Eastlake Studio, and JLL are not alone; designing with the occupants of your space’s health in mind is growing in importance.
For more on how you can create healthier designs with things like airflow, natural lighting, and materiality, click the button below:
*Images courtesy geniant + Eastlake Studio, Kendall McCaugherty.