BWBR Leadership Evolves with Promotion of New Generation

Starting to reflect the span of the generations that now characterize workplaces, BWBR’s leadership welcomed a new class of leaders in the past year who bring a diverse skillset and perspective to the team.

The seven newest members named principals at the 96-year-old firm all rose through the ranks in the firm: Melanie Baumhover, AIA, LEED AP; Ryan Johansen, AIA; Stefnee Trzpuc, CID, EDAC, LEED AP; Mike Meehan, AIA, LEED AP; Craig Peterson, AIA, LEED AP; Bruce Larson, AIA; and Terri Ulrick, AIA, LEED AP BD+C. The promotions bring representation from multiple areas of BWBR.

“Part of BWBR’s mission is to foster the development of our staff, and these promotions reflect our commitment to that mission,” said Peter G. Smith, FAIA, president and CEO. “More than that, they recognize the diverse perspectives and talents BWBR needs to react to an evolving landscape. Their presence on our leadership team makes us a stronger and better firm to fulfill our whole mission.”

In her 17-year career, Baumhover has focused on projects that have a dramatic impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals, from specialized treatment facilities to social services centers. Her work on centers that serve vulnerable populations looking for help and dignity have made her a thought leader in Human-Centered Safety® design. Originally from Waconia, Minn., Baumhover holds a bachelor’s degree and a master of architecture degree from the University of Minnesota.

Johansen, who has spent the last 13 of his 19-year career at BWBR, specializes in healthcare, designing for both large urban health systems and smaller community-based organizations. Influenced by his upbringing on in rural North Dakota, Johansen’s work is characterized by a commitment to crafting high-quality healing environments for the communities that they serve. A native of Mohall, N.D., Johansen graduated from North Dakota State University with degrees in architecture and environmental design.

Driven by a passion for problem solving through data analysis, Trzpuc leads BWBR’s design research and knowledge management program. Working with staff, she develops practice-based research projects and uses the findings to enhance design solutions for clients and foster knowledge sharing, both within and outside the firm. Trzpuc, a Washburn, N.D., native, received an interior design degree from North Dakota State University and a master’s degree in design from the University of Minnesota.

Meehan, a 24-year veteran of BWBR, combines his architecture background with a talent for professional development initiatives and project management processes. Meehan fosters staff development, identifying interests and passions of staff and aligning those with the needs of clients and project teams. He also leads initiatives to build diversity and identify new talent. A Cedar Falls, Iowa native, Meehan is a graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor of architecture degree.

A 27-year veteran designer who has spent the past 20 years at BWBR, Peterson has influenced the design of a variety of projects at the firm, from college residential halls and high-tech science buildings to hospitals, athletic facilities, and churches. More than a design philosophy, Peterson brings a design approach that engages stakeholders to develop a common vision and create ownership of a design solution. He is a native of Warren, Minn., and has degrees in architecture and environmental design from North Dakota State University.

Larson, who has spent the past 21 years of his 30-year career at BWBR, specializes primarily in managing and designing healthcare projects, large and small. With a reputation for attention to details, Larson’s work as an architect and project manager on community-oriented facilities is matched by his passion for enhancing the lives of residents who access services in those buildings. A native of Isanti, Minn., he is a graduate of North Dakota State University with degrees in architecture and environmental design.

A former in-house architect for the U.S. Army, Ulrick works on projects that push the boundaries of physics, engineering, bio-engineering, and medical device manufacturing. In her 12 years at BWBR she has designed clean rooms, laboratories, manufacturing spaces, and research centers that facilitate collaboration to lead to new discoveries and products. Ulrick earned a bachelor’s degree in architectural studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago and master of architecture degree from the University of Minnesota.

BWBR’s First Designers Earn WELL Accreditation

Recognizing the effects that the built environment has on human health, well-being, and performance, Jennifer Stukenberg, LEED AP, and Kate Poland, AIA, recently became BWBR’s first WELL Accredited Professionals (WELL AP). They join only a handful of design and construction professionals in the region to hold that credential.

Launched in 2014 by the International WELL Building Institute, the WELL Building Standard examines how design, operations, and behaviors within a space can be optimized for health and well-being. Developed over six years through scientific and medical research and literature on environmental health, behavioral factors, and demographic risk factors that affect health, the standards examine air, water, food, light, fitness, comfort, and mental health aspects of a building.

Similar to certifications for buildings that meet stringent environmental impact standards, WELL certification for buildings recognize quality spaces for human health.

WELL AP denotes professionals who have studied and passed tests demonstrating a thorough understanding of the WELL standards.

“The average American spends more than 90 percent of their time indoors,” said Stukenberg, a principal and workplace strategist at BWBR. “In the past, our buildings have been designed to protect us from nature. Growing evidence shows us our relationship with nature is more complex, interconnected.

“Our buildings need to not only allow us to survive, they should allow us to thrive. WELL looks at lighting, air and water’s impact on our health and productivity and creates strategies for physical and mental health, noise control, thermal comfort, and nutrition.”

“For nearly two decades, we’ve focused on the performance of buildings through better design standards for energy and the environment,” said Poland, a project architect at BWBR. “WELL is focusing on whom we build buildings for, turning the focus on the health and performance of people, and like the past decades’ efforts, this will have a positive return on investment for companies.”

With WELL being a relatively new standard, less than 350 projects across the United States have pursued WELL certification, and only one in Minnesota has earned either silver, gold, and platinum certification.

“We keep expanding our understanding of how quality spaces improve human performance,” Poland said. “The more organizations learn about that relationship and employees talk about the benefits, the more we’re going to see WELL certification used to attract the best talent.”

Veteran Healthcare Architect Joins BWBR

Scott Davidson, AIA, ACHE, recently brought his nearly 25 years of experience to BWBR, bolstering a medical planning team that has designed high-profile projects in both urban and rural communities throughout the Upper Midwest and Plains states.

Davidson’s experience spans the nation on projects from Maryland to Texas and California as well as throughout the Upper Midwest, Plains, and Mountain states. Among those include new critical access hospitals; specialized spaces for nuclear medicine, pediatric molecular imaging, and hybrid cath labs; and campus master plans. Additionally, Davidson was a medical planner on a 22-story international hospital in Bangkok, Thailand.

Beyond his design work, Davidson has been a professor-in-practice and adjunct assistant professor in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota.

Davidson is a graduate of Montana State University with a Bachelor of Architecture degree and has specialized certificates in Lean/Six Sigma from the University of St. Thomas.

BWBR Expands Services with New Senior Operational Planner

Recognizing that organizational efficiency is found in more than the physical space, BWBR has launched a new operational planning service that assists companies, especially in health care, in meeting efficiency, experience, quality, and safety goals.

Leading the new service for BWBR is David Voller, a veteran operations’ executive whose experience spans health systems and management engineering, ambulatory care operations, and systems analysis and improvement. Among the systems with which he’s worked include Mayo Clinic Rochester, Mayo Clinic Health Systems, and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

“In facility planning, a significant reason that organizations seek to improve their space is to improve how the organization operates. However, many times such improvements need more than a physical reorientation,” said Peter G. Smith, FAIA, president and CEO of BWBR. “Operational planning looks at the whole ecosystem of an organization so that performance is elevated through better systems and protocols as well as better spaces.”

BWBR’s operational planning service encompasses various elements that include Lean 3P design; value stream and operational enhancement analysis; and master and strategic planning. In Lean 3P planning, production, preparation and process are analyzed to align the flow of people and materials to improve quality outcomes and the patient experience.

In value stream analysis, systems are analyzed to identify waste and evaluate the cultural influences and training within the system that could produce better adoption and results (i.e., change management).

In master and strategic planning, the team evaluates an organization’s market and culture to understand the appetite for change and risk and then structures plans to align service delivery with consumer demand, industry regulations, and health care reform.

“It’s obvious that the outside forces facing health care organizations today are daunting, at best. Many times, though, the real challenge for organizations are the internal structures that make it hard to adapt to the outside influences,” said Voller, who holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in human resources management. “Facility design is a large investment for organizations to adapt to the market trends. Operational planning services give organizations the best opportunity to see the greatest return on that investment.”