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Let’s talk.

About performance. 

About the environment. 

About resilience.

About who we are and how we operate as hospitals, schools, workplaces, research centers, athletic facilities, secure environments…

 

About all the spaces that help us live our lives.

 

With a Side of Design.

Side of Design is a design-thinking discussion for people obsessed about organizational and facility performance. Twice a month, we’ll be exploring topics and issues affecting how we heal, learn, work, research, play, and pray with those whose passion and expertise centers on the spaces that enable us to do all of that.

Join us on this conversational journey.

Interior classroom entry with colorful animal wall mural to welcome young children.

On Minneapolis’s Lake Street, there is a vibrant and eclectic mix of locally owned businesses and diverse people. It’s also a neighborhood that faces challenges, often defined by housing for those with low incomes, absentee landlords, and lack of investment. Then last year, the area was literally set on fire in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Only a mile and a half away, though, a new beacon of hope is rising on the corner of Bloomington Avenue and Lake Street: The Family Partnership’s new social services headquarters building. Molly Greenman, President and CEO of The Family Partnership, gives a tour of the new facility and opens the doors to how community members can find help, treatment, and hope for the future. Click here to read a summary of the episode.

The past two decades, there has been a real focus on sustainability aimed at reducing our impact on the environment and improving our air and water quality. However, like all systems in America, this focus has often times overlooked how equitable the movement is. The past year has demonstrated why this critique is important. In those communities where pollution is so prevalent and the urban canopy sparse, COVID-19 infection rates are 40 percent higher than in other communities and mortality rates are 19 percent higher. Even before the pandemic, urban and rural zip codes bounded by traffic corridors and located near industrial areas exhibited the lowest life expectancies by several years. In this episode, BWBR’s James Nutt and Sara Goenner Curlee join the U.S. Green Building Council’s Stephanie Leonard to discuss sustainability through the lens of equity and the role design can play in rectifying these inequities in livability and health. Click here to read a summary of the episode.

GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS COLLEGE WARREN AND DONNA BECK ACADEMIC HALL

April 22 is the 51st anniversary of Earth Day. When the day was created, the global economy was releasing just short of 15 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. In 2019, that figure was north of 35 billion metric tons. Buildings generate 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and by 2060, it’s predicted we’ll add another 2.5 trillion square feet of building stock to accommodate a population of 10 billion people. All of this at a time when 2020 tied 2016 as the warmest year on modern record. There’s an imperative for us to raise our performance baselines and sustainability goals. Jesse Turck and Tom Hanley discuss that imperative and how the Framework for Design Excellence opens a path for raising those baselines and elevating communities through the built environment.  Click here to read a summary of the episode.

A staff break area with floor to ceiling windows and shared amenities.

It goes without saying the past year has been traumatic, whether we’ve known someone die from COVID-19 or not.  For those who work in healthcare, the pandemic has pushed many of them to the point of exhaustion, both mentally and physically. It is reflected in the rising rates of suicide, depression, and anxiety that staff report they are experiencing. In this episode, we address the question, how can we do better supporting the resiliency of care staff to help individuals avoid feelings of depression, exhaustion, and, in some cases, isolation? Devan Swiontkowski, a medical planner and health care designer, and Danielle Ostertag, a senior interior designer, discuss the issue of staff resiliency and how small steps can be large leaps to supporting those charged with taking care of us. Click here to read a summary of the episode.

Securian Financial Human Resources HR Lobby Reception Renovation

For many organizations, this month marks a full year since they closed traditional offices in response to the pandemic.  While technological advances have always presented a looming promise of work-from-anywhere, the actual practice this past year has shown that we can be productive, we want the flexibility, but we also can feel isolated and lonely and drained from non-stop video calls and emails. As energy builds to re-open offices with rising rates of vaccinations, the question becomes, what should we come back to that works for people? BWBR’s Jennifer Stukenberg and Tina Fisher explore the opportunities in seeing work more as an ecosystem of support and empowerment that goes beyond the traditional office. Click here to read a summary of the episode.

UnityPoint Health - Meriter Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Program Expansion and Renovation

Mental health has been a vexing problem in America, for many reason but not the least of which has been the stigma surrounding it. The good news is there’s progress, but more than increasing access to treatment, there’s the challenge of providing the proper space for treatment. While efforts focus on making spaces safe from patients doing harm to themselves, only in the past few years has research shifted to look at how evidence-grounded stress-reducing features could possibly reduce incidents of aggression overall in psychiatric facilities. BWBR’s Scott Holmes and Melanie Baumhover spotlight this human-centered approach and how it’s changing the way we see mental health care. Click here to read a summary of the episode.

Scenario Planning Overall with Key

Traditionally, a master planning process guided project developments, driven by both vision and an assumption that the future would reflect more of a normal operational environment. The pandemic upended any sort of normality, and it also showed where that traditional process failed to help organizations navigate through deviations from normal. Scenario Planning evolves that approach, looking at an organization’s operations through various lenses to create options that promote resiliency through various events. BWBR’s Sophia Skemp, Mike Boldenow, and David Voller explore Scenario Planning and its benefits.  Click here to read a summary of the episode.

Rarely in modern times has the United States faced such a massive disruption to our lives and routines. The past year has revealed massive gaps that we’ve often ignored to the way we work, learn, and access services for health and wellness. It’s challenging us to rethink how we structure our physical environments and policies that influence individual lives and organizational performance. BWBR’s Pete Smith, Nan Langevin, and Craig Peterson discuss the spectrum of opportunities this period presents. Click here to read a summary of the entire episode.

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