Originally published in High-Profile Monthly. By Dianne Dunnell, IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP, interior design director and associate partner at Margulies Perruzzi Architects

September 25, 2017 – Workplace strategy focuses on marrying three important aspects of the modern workplace: 1) applying better space utilization metrics; 2) optimizing real estate costs; and 3) updating an office space to meet current trends in design and technology. Factoring in employee satisfaction and a company’s ability to attract and retain top talent, there is a clear business objective to creating a work environment that inspires, motivates, and connects employees.

As how we work evolves to include greater collaboration, technology, and mobility, the design — and size — of the workplace is changing, and companies are increasingly asking “How much space do we really need?” The trend in space utilization indicates that 40% of an office’s individual work spaces are used at any given time, leaving 60% of space vacant due to meetings, travel, and rotating schedules. Companies are thus responding by reducing the ratio of square footage per person while enhancing collaboration space and amenities.

Determining a company’s space needs should involve more than just looking at employee headcount. In addition to business drivers, a company’s work culture and use of technology will help to define needed square footage. Keep in mind that the workplace a company designs today must support its workforce of the future. It is important to first conduct a discovery process to identify a company’s purpose, business drivers, culture, and ways of working. Provide employees with opportunities to prioritize what settings will support their work needs and create a workplace with the right mix of spaces.

A successful workplace strategy should prepare for evolving workplace trends and space planning models, including high-performance workplace and activity-based design. These two planning models demand different workspace requirements that are outlined below, in addition to common areas such as reception, café/lunch room, and a quiet room. In general, with a decrease in workstation and office sizes and number, an increase in collaboration space, conference rooms, and amenity space is necessary.

Today’s common planning model, high-performance workplace (HPW), is characterized by open office space with assigned seating and a fixed private office-to-workstation ratio. Workstations are clustered into neighborhoods, and the space has designated zones for high collaboration, meetings, and quiet work. Typically, there is one size each for offices and workstations throughout the space.

An example high-performance workplace that provides 20% of the space for offices, 27 workstations (6’x7’), four phone rooms, and four conference rooms would require approximately 7,900rsf. The ratio would thus be 197sf/person.

An emerging planning model, activity-based work (ABW) design, creates a balanced variety of communal workspaces that correspond to the type of work performed throughout the day. Rather than assigning traditional work settings to employees, this model anticipates that employees will choose for themselves work areas that suit their needs for a particular task or day. This model offers typically unassigned workstations for quiet, heads-down work. Activity-based work design moves an office from individual space to “we” space.

An example space designed with the ABW model, leveraging the same head count and support space program as noted in the HPW planning model, would require 6,660rsf. The ratio, without considering a remote work program, would be 166sf/person.

One size does not fit all. A company may implement a mostly HPW and use the ABW model for select departments or teams. More than 50% of companies are also providing remote working options. A conservative mobile work ratio would reflect 1:1.3 seats to people. A more aggressive goal, where 70% to 90% of staff are mobile, would lean toward a 1:4 or 1:5 ratio.

So how much space do you need? While a HPW averages 150sf to 200sf/person, some firms that embrace technology and activity-based work can achieve less than 100sf/person. The key is to select the right planning model that best fits your future, not current, office needs, based on industry sector. Leveraging digital storage and mobile devices, and following space-sharing strategies, may allow employees to work more efficiently and possibly reduce an office footprint by 50%.

Thoughtful space utilization analysis and design execution will yield a more successful workplace result. View MPA’s workplace strategy video series (or read the full report) at: http://mp-architects.com/wps.

About the author
Dianne Dunnell, IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP, is the interior design director and an associate partner at Margulies Perruzzi Architects. Consistently ranked as one of Boston’s top architectural and interior design firms, Margulies Perruzzi Architects services the corporate, professional services, research and development, real estate, and healthcare communities. For more information, please visit www.mp-architects.com.

Originally published in Medical Construction & Design. By Jason Costello, AIA, EDAC, associate principal and partner at Margulies Perruzzi Architects

September 20, 2017 – Restrooms are universally used spaces, but their design in healthcare settings can vary widely based on patient population, room location and layout, and safety concerns. For designers, patient restrooms in hospitals pose the greatest design challenges to ensure that the spaces support healing, comfort, and calm for patients and provide ease of maintenance, infection control, and safety features for facility managers.

The design of healthcare restrooms is similar to that of commercial restrooms with respect to durability, cleanability, and accessibility – but that’s where the parallels end. Given consumer choice in healthcare, medical facilities are designing restrooms with a comforting, home-like feel. Gone are the institutional-looking lavatories of old; today’s healthcare restrooms incorporate new products and technologies that provide a level of hospitality that patients increasingly seek.

Designing restrooms to optimize the patient experience
Whether renovating or building anew, hospitals and healthcare facilities are listening and responding to their patients, visitors, and staff by creating patient rooms and restrooms that are accessible and comfortable for everyone. The trend toward “increased capacity rooms and restrooms” that address weight limitation of plumbing fixtures and a continued focus on improved accessibility, provide the extra space and accommodations that people with mobility challenges and dexterity disabilities need.

Restrooms in healthcare fall into two categories: public restrooms that serve patients and visitors, and clinical toilet rooms that support the clinical functions required of various programs within the facility.

Public restrooms consist of a mix of gang toilet rooms and individual restrooms. These restrooms are often associated with public amenities and waiting areas, and demand a high level of design and finish materials. Porcelain tile walls and flooring provide excellent durability and cleanability for these high-use spaces. A new trend is the use of solid surface materials for the toilet portions, providing a clean modern look while maintaining excellent cleanability and resistance to cleaning chemicals and standard abuse in this environment. Often, gang toilet rooms are supplemented with private toilet rooms designated for family use, gender neutral, and accessibility compliance.

A key challenge with all public toilets is addressing the weight limitations of porcelain wall mounted toilets and the associated weight of users. The risk of injury and breakage can necessitate post-installation fixes of “wood block” supports. This issue requires a critical design phase discussion between infection control, housekeeping, and facility engineering to select a solution that works for all concerned – and avoids a post-occupancy fix.

The second category of healthcare restrooms – dedicated clinical toilet rooms – are designed to accommodate specific clinical needs across a wide spectrum of acuities:

-Medical/surgical patient rooms are often much more like hotel room toilets, complete with shower and hospitality-style finishes with hospital grade durability. As a large number of hospitals are converting semi-private patient rooms to private rooms, toilet rooms are also being renovated to meet current standards. In an effort to minimize demolition costs, hospitals are considering fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) panels that can be installed over existing materials and provide a new seamless enclosure for the shower and entire toilet room. Further, careful attention is required in the design of the threshold and flooring transitions between the patient room, the toilet room, and the accessible shower to control water within the room and to minimize the risk of slips and falls.
Specialties such as orthopedics may require larger room sizes to accommodate patients with mobility issues. On the maternity floor, private post-partum rooms are being updated with hotel-like amenities, including storage in patient toilet rooms and lighting sconces in new beauty areas.
-Intensive care unit (ICU) patients are often bedridden and unconscious, leading some hospitals to eliminate the patient toilet and replace it with a soiled utility room with a flush sink for bed pan washing and a hand washing sink. This design decision results in a significant reduction in the space required in lieu of a full toilet room. However, as patient families are increasingly invited into the ICU, the incorporation of a full patient toilet room is often provided to accommodate the presence and convenience of the family.
It is well documented that the healthcare environment has a direct impact on patient healing. The location and design of patient rooms, and even patient restrooms, can contribute to a patient’s healing response. Patient restrooms located along an interior wall (inboard) frees up the window line for natural light and exterior views, features shown to help improve patient mood and health outcomes. While they offer more patient privacy, inboard restrooms also reduce the nursing staff’s line of sight visibility to patients. Exterior wall (outboard) restrooms are always specified for intensive care units.
-Outpatient clinics, and their associated toilet rooms, take a variety of forms. If a toilet room is used for specimen collection, it will require a specimen collection cabinet with pass-through adjacency to the testing lab. If a clinic handles drug testing, designers may configure the room to have only a toilet, with a handwashing sink located outside the room or an in-room sink with a remote shut-off water function to comply with government testing requirements.
These variations of clinical toilet rooms require understanding the unique programmatic needs of the individual departments and modifying the design to satisfy them.

Innovation in healthcare restroom materials and fixtures
While new products and technologies for restroom design become increasingly available, healthcare organizations can be hesitant to try something untested in the medical environment. Tile and grout may be tried and true, but grout is still a cleaning issue and tiles can pose a slipping hazard. New restroom materials and fixtures need to pass several standards – and expectations – for hospitality aesthetics, cleanliness, and safety.

For example, there is a growing interest in using prefabricated toilet modules for new patient rooms. Prefabrication in a controlled manufacturing environment provides a better-quality product that can also expedite a tight construction schedule. While the units offer compelling benefits, their use is typically limited to new construction, rather than renovations, due to the access through a building required to install them.

Minimal-seaming products for flooring and solid-surface walls continue to provide a combination of sophistication and functionality for healthcare restrooms. Smooth and seamless wall cladding and large-format porcelain wall panels can create a hospitality feel in the shower, while sheet flooring has become a great alternative to tile, providing a grout-free, easy to clean surface. One-piece seamless sinks with backsplash are a popular choice and offer an anti-microbial surface and sleek look. To reduce infection, automatic fixtures – such as touch- or hands-free faucets, toilets, urinals, and hand dryers – are a given. And while the new low-flow toilets are great for water conservation, old pipes may not have the adequate slope for the low flow fixtures so consult an engineer before installing them in an existing building. A final consideration is a recent rise in legionella cases that have been attributed to stagnant areas of the supply piping, which although not directly a design challenge for the toilet rooms, should be considered if renovating a significant portion of the building.

Bariatric units, as well as bariatric rooms on standard floors, require special consideration for their toilet room design. A bariatric restroom tends to be 20 percent larger than a typical healthcare restroom, allowing for larger clearance of patients and assisting nurses as well as fixtures and doors. A common mistake is that bariatric toilet rooms can double as ADA toilet rooms from a compliance standpoint; however, the bariatric clearances differ from ADA and additional provisions are required to comply. Due to weight load, bariatric toilets use floor-mounted, non-porcelain models with structural floor supports. Grab bars and sinks in bariatric restrooms need steel reinforcements, especially if they are wall-mounted. The introduction of a patient lift into the toilet room for these programs requires a transfer or a customized door frame to accommodate the lift track.

There are many variables in the design of healthcare restrooms, and their size, specifications, and materials will differ based on patient population and usage. Healthcare environments tend to provoke anxiety in people, so the trend toward hospitality design in healthcare spaces, including restrooms, will only accelerate. The choice of colors and finishes can impact patient comfort and satisfaction with a facility, and the choice of fixtures and materials can impact long-term maintenance and infection control. The design team would be wise to collaborate with facility management and environmental services to design patient restrooms that meet everyone’s goals.

About the author
Jason Costello, AIA, EDAC, is an associate principal and partner leading the healthcare studio at Margulies Perruzzi Architects. Consistently ranked as one of Boston’s top architectural and interior design firms, Margulies Perruzzi Architects services the healthcare, corporate, professional services, research and development, and real estate communities. For more information, please visit www.mp-architects.com.

Workplace strategy research and video series available on www.mp-architects.com

BOSTON – September 12, 2017 – Margulies Perruzzi Architects (MPA), one of New England’s most innovative architectural and interior design firms, today released a series of videos aimed at helping businesses utilize their workplace as a tool to become more successful. The five-part video series outlines the business and workplace transformation drivers that help create a productive and inspiring workplace , now, and for the future. MPA’s video series and research is available online at: http://mp-architects.com/wps

The workplace is an important physical asset that is fundamental in helping businesses achieve their goals. There is a clear business objective to creating a work environment that inspires, motivates, and connects employees, and it is important for employees to see a company’s mission, values, and culture conveyed in their physical space. While the design solution will vary by industry and company, research shows that there are common goals. There are three core strategies, which are covered in detail in the videos, for making the workplace an effective tool for any business that considers people to be their primary asset:

-Inspire creativity with collaboration and technology, support for mobile work, and creation of quiet space;
-Attract and retain talent by creating community, supporting social interaction, and promoting wellness; and
-Enhance mission engagement by crafting an image and increasing brand awareness.

MPA’s workplace strategy research has shown that there are specific design solutions that help a company express its culture, industry, and leadership while producing quantifiable contributions to the bottom line. Further, the key to creating a high performing workspace is to provide an environment that supports business objectives and prepares for evolving workplace trends. The workplace that a company designs today must support the workforce of the future. MPA’s video series closes with insight on four major topics that companies should consider as they plan real estate solutions for the future.

About Margulies Perruzzi Architects
Consistently ranked as one of New England’s top architectural and interior design firms, Margulies Perruzzi Architects creates buildings and interiors for clients who value the quality of their workplace. For more information, please visit http://www.mp-architects.com.

Media Contact:
Michele Spiewak
Rhino PR

Real estate investment trust takes space in Boston’s Federal Reserve Building

BOSTON – September 7, 2017 – Margulies Perruzzi Architects (MPA), one of Boston’s most innovative architectural and interior design firms, announced today the completion of a new office in Boston for AvalonBay Communities, Inc., a publicly traded real estate investment trust focused on high-quality apartment communities. MPA provided space planning and interior design services for AvalonBay’s new 15,000 SF regional office, which is ideally located on the 20th floor of the landmark Federal Reserve Building at 600 Atlantic Avenue.

MPA created an open, modern, and collaborative office that maximizes natural light and exterior views throughout the space. AvalonBay was committed to ensuring that all workspace and common areas had full visual access to Boston Harbor on the south side of the building and downtown Boston on the north. MPA’s highly efficient workplace design features a blend of glass-fronted offices and workstation clusters. To break up the glass-fronted offices, workstation clusters are staggered in breaks along the perimeter and aligned with internal open office areas to offer staff an easy connection to the window line. The mirror-image floor plan of the work area provides ample opportunities for both city and water views.

On entry from the updated elevator lobby, the public zone of AvalonBay’s office provides a branded and welcoming space with spectacular views. A centrally located reception area ushers visitors into an adjacent conference center on one side, and a café with adjoining training space on the other. Two retractable glass walls open the training room fully to the café, providing a multi-purpose space, with water views, to accommodate full-company gatherings and hosted events. With counter space for buffet-style catering and tables, bar stools, and banquettes for casual seating, the café offers a comfortable, well-appointed space for employee interactions and impromptu meetings. The public zone of the space is branded with beautiful photography of AvalonBay’s Boston projects.

“We are thrilled with our move to the Federal Reserve Bank tower. Our full floor layout accommodates our recent and anticipated growth, and the abundance of natural light and sweeping views it offers has energized our entire team,” said William M. McLaughlin, executive vice president of development at AvalonBay Communities, Inc. “From the beginning of our relationship, MPA understood that we needed a space that reflects our culture, fosters collaboration, and accommodates a variety of uses. MPA’s design provides us with beautiful and functional features that we will enjoy for years to come.”

One aspect of the design that is particularly striking is the treatment of the ceilings. To reinforce the size of the open spaces, ceiling clouds float below an exposed structure in many areas, creating a dramatic effect of height and a less traditional feel. Linear pendants with direct and indirect lighting illuminate the clouds and provide appropriate task light to workstations below. Coupled with stunning artwork and graphics, sparkling light fixtures, and subtle variances of color and texture, the office has a dynamic, airy effect.

The Federal Reserve Building at 600 Atlantic Avenue in Boston is a LEED Gold-certified building with a roof garden, cafeteria, and fitness center, located across the street from urban transit. AvalonBay’s new office is anticipated to achieve LEED Gold certification.

J.J. Vacaro, Inc. served as general contractor for the project, and Vanderweil Engineers provided mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering services. Furniture was provided by American Office, and light fixtures were provided by Omni-Lite. Entegra Development was the LEED consultant on the project.

About Margulies Perruzzi Architects
Consistently ranked as one of Boston’s top architectural and interior design firms, Margulies Perruzzi Architects creates buildings and interiors for clients who value the quality of their workplace. The firm services the corporate, professional services, healthcare, science/technology, and real estate communities with a focus on sustainable design. MPA has designed high performance workspace for Iron Mountain, Zipcar, Boston Scientific, Philips, Cimpress/Vistaprint, Forrester Research, Hobbs Brook Management, and Reliant Medical Group. For more information, please visit http://www.mp-architects.com.

Media Contact:
Michele Spiewak
Rhino PR