The Next Generation of Healthy Buildings

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March 15, 2021

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By Lauren Whitney, RID, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C, WELL AP is a Vice President at Corgan,a leading architecture and design firm headquartered in Dallas
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LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has long served as the international standard in “green buildings”. As a driver of environmental responsibility and sustainability, LEED measures and scores the performance of the building in the same way WELL evaluates the experience and impact of the building on the people inside. Expanding the notion of healthy buildings to focus on the people that occupy the world’s buildings—either as employees, visitors, or residents—WELL measures, certifies, and monitors specific features of the built environment and its effect on human health and well-being.

The WELL Building Standard pays particular attention to several features that fall into one of seven wellness concepts: air, water, nourishment, comfort, light, fitness, and mind. Demonstrated success in all these preconditions is the foundation to WELL Certification though higher certification can be achieved by pursuing optimization features. These more advanced objectives vary from one building to the next to provide flexibility when selecting what best suits the occupants and the project’s goals.

More than 700 projects worldwide have already registered or certified through WELL, including the first WELL project in Texas, Stryker’s Flower Mound Regional Distribution Center designed by Corgan.

By placing people at the heart of design, construction, operations, and development decisions, WELL has the potential to add meaningful value, generate savings in personnel costs, and enhance the human experience, health and well-being. WELL is changing the future of design—challenging design to create intentional spaces that encourage healthier decisions and support organizational initiatives to promote a culture of wellness for everyone.


Varsity Brands/ BSN Sports

Most of us spend more time at work and at our desks than we do at the gym. What if going to the office didn’t mean giving up on your health goals?

Fitness and athleticism are a core part of the Varsity Brands DNA, so when it came time for an office renovation, reinforcing those values internally was a natural extension of their culture. Varsity Brands wanted to give their employees the extra motivation to keep moving and turned their “cat-walk” type cut-through into a walking track with a gallery featuring inspiring images of their client’s coaches and student athletes. Markers on the track measure distances in relation to their most popular sports—for example,1.5 laps equals the length of an infield baseball diamond or the length of one football field. Inspirational quotes and details like the large “HUSTLE” graphic provide visual destinations and create energetic areas to take a break, get active, and even catch up with colleagues over a fast-paced game of ping pong—a more purposeful take on the popular office amenity.

Tip: All those trips to the printer can add up. Have a couple of meetings in the far conference room? You may not be that far from reaching your fitness goals! Intentional design features such as connecting stairs and environmental graphics both intentionally and casually encourage physical activity and movement throughout the space.

Toyota North American Headquarters

There’s no excuse for swinging through a drive-through with the onsite fitness center, rock-climbing wall, and healthy dining options accessible anytime at Toyota’s new North American Headquarters in Plano. With an onsite bistro, three satellite dining locations, a large restaurant with courtyard views, specialty juice bars, a pharmacy, medical clinic, and convenient retail options, eating right and mindful wellness are easier and a natural part of the day.

Tip: Numerous dining opportunities are great, but don’t just grab your lunch and head back to your desk.  Dining “al desko” may result in consuming more food. The social interaction during can do your mind good, help reduce stress and isolation.

Tip: Did you know most Americans live in some stage of dehydration every day?  Providing frequently located hydration stations throughout office spaces encourages more regular refueling.  Need extra motivation? Providing healthy, clean tasting or sparkling water can promote water consumption. 

Corgan Headquarters Expansion

Corgan’s addition to our own ten-year-old, downtown headquarters building was driven by bringing all the local employees back under one roof. With a desire to stay in one location, our expansion and renovation project is registered to pursue a wellness-based certification, WELL New and Existing Interiors, seeking Silver Certification in 2018.

An evaluation of the WELL criteria identified features already in place that simply required documentation to and small changes and quick upgrades including an increased commitment to quality of light and creating an in-house program to sustain the nourishment preconditions that could help measurably achieve wellness goals.

Tip: WELL’s focus on people is a strong opportunity to naturally extend corporate culture and values and don’t require a complete office overhaul. Rather, a thoughtful and strategic approach to design and evaluation of existing amenities such as low-glare sit to stand workstations, circadian lighting practices, and nourishment accommodations for special diets can help identify realistic opportunities to improve wellbeing, productivity, and creativity.

ABOUT CORGAN Corgan is a leading architecture and interior design firm with deep technical experience and a reputation for great service. Consistently ranked as one of the top five architecture firms, Corgan creates spaces and structures that inspire, inform, and innovate. For eight decades, Corgan has developed special expertise in aviation, commercial, critical facilities, education, healthcare, and interior design projects. Combining a sound functional business approach with a sensitivity to aesthetic value, Corgan is committed to creating environments where our clients thrive.


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