IA hosts a Metropolis magazine Think Tank exploring how design can address human needs for security and comfort.How can workplace design alleviate your headache? Well, it can certainly help. Aside from the obvious challenges of workflow and wayfinding, what are some of the layers of interaction between behavior and space that affect human well-being and performance? These questions, among others, were addressed at the June Metropolis magazine Think Tank, hosted by Editor-in-Chief Susan Szenasy with panelists IA Design Director Grzegorz Kosmal, AIA, LEED AP; IA Senior Workplace Strategist Kelly Funk, NCIDQ; CBRE Director Sybil Freedman; and Delos Senior Vice President Whitney Austin Gray, PhD, LEED AP. The group focused on a recently completed project by IA’s Washington, DC, office, and discussed how spaces respond to the interwoven needs of a project’s occupants.
“As designers, we have an overarching responsibility to understand, prioritize and consequently address the needs of our clients,” Kosmal says.Panelists discussed how the organization of human needs, first introduced by psychologist Abraham Maslow in 1943 as the Hierarchy of Human Needs, can aid designers in both identifying and prioritizing client needs, and meeting both overt and subtle human requirements. Differentiating human needs in relationship to behaviors and space is critical to creating designs for more human-centered work spaces, according to IA’s Funk. As a workplace strategist, she often uses social research to discover and remedy unmet needs. For example, designing areas that accommodate nap pods, meditation spaces, and mindfulness zones, in some cases, can meet the need for security and protection from Maslow’s pyramid.
The group emphasized the importance of adequate daylight, good air quality, healthy food, and the implementation of color in the workplace. Dr. Gray explains, “Our built environment can shape our habits and choices, regulate our sleep-wake cycle, drive us toward healthy and unhealthy choices, and passively influence our health through the quality of our surroundings.” Workplace designers and facilitators must have the expertise and passion to take responsibility and positively influence the health and wellness of their clients’ workforce.