March 9, 2020

Smith, Berg Author Chapter for Book on Architecture, Health

The living green wall at Mayo Clinic Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center Mezzanine Lounge

Highlighting the connection between health, wellness, and the built environment, BWBR’s Peter Smith, FAIA, and Stephen Berg, AIA, write, “Wellness programs can reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, reduce stress, and promote a culture of supports and engagement, ultimately fostering the camaraderie that is required for employee retention.”

That perspective gained through work with Mayo Clinic on the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center is the foundation for a case study on the project authored by Smith and Berg in the new book, “Architecture and Health: Guiding Principles for Practice,” published late last year by Routledge.

Edited by Dina Battisto, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Architecture, Arts, and Humanities at Clemson University, and Jacob Wilhelm, an award-winning designer practicing in Denver, Colo., and publisher of “Adaptive Architecture: Changing Parameters and Practice,” the book is a collection of case studies exploring innovative designs that link architecture to health outcomes.

Writing “Employee Wellness: The Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center at Mayo Clinic,” Smith, president of CEO of BWBR, and Berg, a principal at the firm, outline the principles and guidelines that drove the vision and design for the center, beginning with recognition of the mental and physical strain delivering care has on employees in the healthcare profession. In the case study, they recount the steps staff and leaders took to let an overarching definition of wellness drive program development, spatial adjacencies, and the character of the space around the three pillars of wellness: nutrition, fitness, and resiliency.

From those pillars, the design goals emerge, including among several the building site to encourage high utilization;  visibility and transparency to create a landmark that showcases wellness and healthy activities; incorporating natural light and connections to nature to welcome and inspire users on a wellness journey; and creating spaces that make the connection between physical, mental, and spiritual health that is evidence based, a hallmark of Mayo Clinic’s care.

Originally opened in 2007 for employees and their families, the center expanded in 2014 to serve those beyond staff, doubling the center’s size.

“Design can do more than facilitate health. It has the power to inspire and promote health, whether that’s for patients in treatment or employees at a workplace. As designers, we should be pursuing that goal,” Berg said. “This book, and Mayo’s continued research into the effects of a facility like this, give both designers and their clients tools to shape healthy environments. We’re honored to have been included in this national conversation.”

The book is available through traditional book sellers.

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