Dunwoody, University of Minnesota Architectural Students Join BWBR Prize Competition

Since the mid-1990s, BWBR has hosted architectural and interior design students at universities from around the region in a competition that mimics the real-world experience in design and business development.

In 2017, for the first time, architectural students from Dunwoody College of Technology and the University of Minnesota College of Design will be part of the BWBR Prize competition.

“We’re excited to have Dunwoody and Minnesota students join the BWBR Prize,” said Pete Smith, FAIA, president and CEO of BWBR. “Dunwoody College’s new program is serving a vital need to create new avenues for students from all backgrounds to enter the profession. Helping those students develop into the total design professional enhances what they are learning in the classroom and goes to the heart of our mission to foster development and produce distinguished architecture.”

The BWBR Prize is a unique student design competition that parallels the process today’s design firms face when clients consider hiring them. Targeted to students entering their last year of school in order to have an impact on their development as they finish their education, students are invited to participate in the Prize by faculty.

The two-step process involves a proposal that is reviewed by professionals and used to select finalists. Those chosen then come to Saint Paul during a spring weekend to present their proposals in front of a panel who then awards the Prize – a cash award – to respective winners at each school participating.

Dunwoody College and University of Minnesota join architectural programs at North Dakota State University and Iowa State University and the interior design program at University of Wisconsin-Stout to participate in the BWBR Prize.

This year’s students from Dunwoody are the first students from the college who are eligible to compete in the Prize. The new program started in 2014 after a four-year study that identified needs in the community and profession for a program that addressed both professional preparation and technological proficiency. Offering both a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree and a five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree, the program is on track for accreditation in spring 2019.

“Those of us who are University of Minnesota graduates know first-hand what students from the design school produce, and based on student work that has already appeared in public, there’s good talent at the Dunwoody, too. We’re anxious to see what these students produce for the BWBR Prize,” Smith said.

This year’s BWBR Prize competition will take place on two Saturdays, April 22 and April 29.

Firm Names Terri Ulrick as New Principal

BWBR recently named a new principal to its leadership team, promoting Terri Ulrick, AIA, LEED AP BD+C. One of the largest and oldest professional services firms in the region providing architectural and interior design services, BWBR’s promotion continues the employee-owned firm’s evolution in its seventh generation of leadership.

Ulrick joined BWBR as a senior job captain in 2006 taking on a leadership role as a sustainability specialist. Prior to BWBR, Terri worked for the U.S. Army (Europe) as its in-house architectural representative and LEED consultant for more than three years. She brings special knowledge of federal standards and security procedures from her work with the VA Medical Center and U.S. military projects.

As project manager at BWBR since 2011, Ulrick has led multiple Twin Cities organizations to enhance their facilities by achieving established sustainability and operational goals. Among the projects Ulrick has helped lead include research and development facilities in both the aerospace and medical device fields, a satellite campus for one of the largest non-denominational churches in the U.S., and laboratory and production spaces with complex requirements for national organizations and the University of Minnesota.

A native of Litchfield, Minn., Ulrick also designed an expansion and renovation at Meeker Memorial Hospital. Ulrick graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and received her Masters of Architecture from the University of Minnesota.

A Change Coalition: How Strong Teams Create Successful Change Initiatives

Talk of an office renovation has spread to nearly every department with the precision of a game of can-and-string telephone. Rumors are flying, and whisper-like conversations are more prevalent than discussions about what happened on last night’s The Walking Dead. Sam in accounting fears the worst after hearing there won’t be cubicle walls. Meanwhile, Pat in human resources is excited to hear about the new work café (complete with a fully functional Starbucks, or so the rumor says). Perhaps this will offer more opportunity to collaborate, and get free coffee!

Whenever there is change, regardless of how small or big it may be, rumors and fears can fly.  As the leader of change, corralling these conversations before they run rampant – on top of the other duties of change management – can be overwhelming. From both a budget and a staff engagement perspective, creating sustainable change cannot be done by one individual. It takes involvement from all levels of an organization. Building a strong change coalition team made up of senior leadership and middle managers is a critical strategy in leading change.  This team is then responsible for communicating a strong why, or value story (see why in previous blog).

By connecting your business objectives to your goals and defining the impact that change will have on your organization, you are telling the why story.  Creating the why guides the team in developing and implementing a successful change initiative.

Who Initiates the Change?

Change can come from senior leadership, middle managers and staff.  In many instances, senior leadership is driving the change initiative. Regardless of how the change is initiated, it is critical to involve middle managers because they are closest to the staff and will be the main communicators of the change message. Transformation is a process, so it is important that middle managers clearly understand the why.

When change begins as a grass roots effort, then leadership sponsors need to be recruited. Involve leadership in the process of developing strategic objectives and the why for the initiative. Leaders will have valuable insights and provide guidance around scope, purpose, organizational value, budget and schedule. Tying strategic objectives with the purpose and organizational value will make the tough decisions easier.  If the broader team is going to support change, they need to see leadership supporting the change initiative as well.

How to begin?

Start by finding a group of early adopters to introduce the idea to first. Once a coalition or volunteer army is developed, as in Kotter’s 8-Step Process of Change, make sure the whole team is on board. This starts by getting people involved up front by asking them to evaluate the change initiative including the strategy, process, and goals. Here’s a list of some thought-starter questions to ask the change advocates early on:

  • What are our intended measures of success?
  • What challenges do we anticipate?
  • What have we learned from previous initiatives?
  • What will enable us to be successful?
  • How should we communicate information?

Forming a powerful coalition will allow the team to successfully lead the change effort.  Since this may be the first time this group has worked together as a team, encourage them to work outside the normal hierarchy.  Depending on your culture this could include removing hierarchy or status within the team; erasing company protocols; not following communication norms, etc.  Information to staff needs to be clear, consistent and frequent – at times daily.  Hierarchy, status, protocols, and standard means of communication can all slow down the process, thus hindering the success of the change initiative.

Communicating to the Broader Team

Empower change advocates to communicate using every vehicle possible to share the change initiative and process for achieving it.  Communication over multiple channels and regularly throughout the initiative is key as in any organization there are many unique personalities in the audience who react differently.  Karl in IT may wait until the last minute and needs the constant reminders while Pat in Accounting will do it the moment she gets the first email.  Encourage the advocates to over communicate and send out continual reminders about what changes are coming.  Never assume anyone has read the first round of communication.

Make sure to identify the real issues and address them head-on. This will allow the change coalition to tweak messages going out to the broader audience to ensure main concerns are addressed. Some tools that can help measure the pulse of the organization and how the change is going are short surveys, small focus group sessions, and post-change surveys.

Another important step is to plan to compile and celebrate the wins. While developing strategic objectives, make sure to define goals that demonstrate visible improvements. Recognize and reward employees who meet these goals and participate in the plan. The positive recognition will encourage others to follow and put the focus on achieving a goal vs. the change itself.

The Payoff

Create a strong change coalition team to lead change by engaging middle managers and other key leaders. Involve them early on in creating a clear why story, planning out the strategy, process, and goals. Publicize the change story and celebrate the wins. The payoff — the change initiative will be successful and your company will be able to flex with shifts in the competitive marketplace.

New BWBR White Paper Looks at Costs, Returns for Behavioral Health Investments

For decades, investments in behavioral and mental health care languished, leaving a significant portion of the United States population without access to both facilities and personnel who could help patients manage their illnesses.

As healthcare organizations find their emergency rooms inundated with patients who suffer from mental illness, and communities discover their jails housing people who are more mentally sick than criminal, that investment trend has started to shift. Yet, as money becomes available to create better and new spaces for behavioral health, knowing how to properly invest that money in strategies that achieve the right outcomes is as much of the challenge as finding the money, itself.

BWBR’s Rick Dahl, AIA, and Scott Holmes, AIA, ACHA, LEED AP, tackle that issue on investment and strategies in a new white paper, “Investing in Behavioral Health for Better Outcomes: Value-driven facility improvements to promote more effective care.” The paper takes a deeper look into investment in behavioral and mental health facilities, looking beyond initial construction costs to evaluate the qualitative and effective strategies that reduce staff injuries, improve patient outcomes, and change the way communities look at mental health care.

“For more than 20 years, the environments in which people receive and staff provide traditional care have dramatically changed, becoming more patient-centered and comfortable while also more efficient and intuitive,” said Dahl, a principal at BWBR with more than 30 years of experience in healthcare design. “However, the strategies that work for people with physical ailments are not always transferrable to mental health centers. Details carry significant importance for people who see details differently than a majority of the population.”

“Previously, mental health centers put a premium on security and injury prevention,” said Holmes, who, together with Dahl, has designed a number of new facilities taking a different approach to mental health care. “This approach sacrificed dignity and empathy and discounted the space as an important part of the care protocol. What we’re learning is that organizations actually can improve both care and safety by investing in elements that make the care more accessible and hopeful.”

The paper addresses first costs, operational costs, opportunity costs, and society costs, breaking them down to understand how they influence access to care, patient response to care, staff recruitment, and the image of the quality of care.

The paper comes in the midst of a renaissance in behavioral health investment. A 2017 Healthcare Construction Survey found 50 percent of healthcare organizations indicate a behavioral health specialty hospital projects is planned or under construction. In the Upper Midwest, Regions Hospital in Saint Paul, Minn.; University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis; and Gundersen Health in La Crosse, Wis., have all opened new facilities.

In 2017, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services will open an expanded Van Andel Center for adolescents and young adults at its facility in Cutlerville, Mich.

Those come on the heels of Avera Behavioral Health Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., that took a revolutionary new approach to behavioral health design a decade ago with open nurse stations and floor plans, flexible connector hallways, and entrances into units that protected patient privacy and dignity. The design strategies for the center have been linked to greater satisfaction with care and culture, better patient-staff interactions, and census numbers in three years that weren’t expected until 15 years operation.

“To the untrained eye, some elements that go into behavioral health design may seem unrelated to therapeutic care. These are the elements that matter, though. It is in the details that organizations – and communities – can find the greatest return on investment for illnesses that affect more than 25 percent of the population,” Dahl said.