The Big Rethink

Blaze new trails

We know the future will be radically different. To thrive, organizations of all types need to challenge norms, leave the status quo in the past and flip the tables on convention. 

We embrace the opportunity to reach outside our comfort zones. Doing so requires creative courage, which is something we have in endless supply.

Our courageous work establishes new paradigms. What if a bus could be a mobile museum? What if hospitals were exciting, comforting community epicenters? What if we designed schools like children’s museums? What if we reimagined workplaces as destinations for community activation? What if? It’s a burning question that never stops pushing us to rewrite what’s possible.

Explore the ideas, people and projects reshaping design possibilities across our firm.


  • Considering what others have done previously can be a fine reference, but it can’t be the leaping-off point. It’s looking backwards, not forward. Every company is different and it takes deep engagement to create truly forward-thinking, breakthrough and customized solutions that can unlock the highest potential. That’s our quest, to help organizations reach that far.

    Meg Navin Commercial Executive Director
  • Healthcare needs to change. The way we deliver care and connect with our communities needs to change. So, why would we design the same kind of health building we did yesterday? It doesn't make sense. The magic is in blurring the boundaries between health, community and culture. Why does a hospital have to look like a traditional hospital? Maybe it doesn't. Maybe it's time for something new.

    Abbie Clary
    Abbie Clary, FAIA, FACHA, LEED AP Health Co-Director
  • When folks wanted to create a camera phone, they didn't tape a camera to a phone. They created something entirely new. When it comes to building design, we have that same spirit. We're here to think bigger, to create buildings, typologies and solutions that previously did not exist to help our clients thrive.

    Mehrdad Yazdani
    Mehrdad Yazdani Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign Director

Matters of the future

2 million+

There are currently over 1 million minimally invasive robotic surgeries each year worldwide and that number is expected to double by 2025.

The UIC Surgical and Innovation Training Lab creates a first-of-its-kind testing ground for surgeons to train with the latest in robotic and minimally invasive surgical tools.

We helped UIC design the lab with deep inspiration from professional theater production. This allows surgeons to reimagine their space as needed each day or even multiple times a day. Learn more about the groundbreaking lab and how it's pioneering the field of "surgineering."

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That's how many Americans age 18 and older surveyed by New America believe online education has become just as effective as in-person learning.

This opens new possibilities for learning, but can lead to less in-person collaboration and socialization, as well as social isolation and accessibility challenges. Here's what we're doing about it.

Leveraging deep expertise and cross-market collaboration, our education practice leaders have envisioned the transformation of campus typologies that will help draw students back to class.

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1 in 5

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.

Our team has been at the forefront of rethinking mental healthcare facilities. Today, we're creating spaces that offer deep resources, reduce stigma and even spur economic development.

Reasons to be Cheerful featured our people and projects in a piece about how today's mental health facilities are shattering stigmas. These buildings are no longer seen as a risk or a burden to the surrounding community, but a potential boon, bringing the same social and economic benefits that any new development would.

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Our actions

We're always pushing to develop solutions that set new precedent and unlock hidden potential. That attitude carries over into our own firm where we've created an entirely unique design firm model and structure that breaks precedent.