Designing a Mixed-use “Mobility Hub” in Downtown Buffalo

  • May 16, 2019
  • Author: CannonDesign

201 Ellicott is a mixed-use affordable housing and fresh food market project currently being planned for downtown Buffalo. We were part of a previous design for this site in late 2015/early 2016 that envisioned a mixture of higher-end luxury apartments, underground and above-ground parking, office space, and a grocery market. After the project was placed on hold and further studies were conducted gathering community input, the program was redeveloped into something much more appropriate for the area and city.

This site will be one of the first “mobility hubs” for downtown Buffalo, providing residents and the community with a place of alternative transportation opportunities, supporting the idea of vibrant, livable and walkable communities. The project is currently being reviewed by the zoning and planning board, and is moving forward with great anticipation and excitement. Some renderings of the project thus far:

Learn more about our work in Buffalo >

In The Patient Space: 6 Ways Nurses Influence Design Thinking

  • May 9, 2019
  • Author: CannonDesign

Nurses are acutely aware of the impact of the physical environment on their ability to deliver excellent care to patients. They spend the most time in patient rooms, navigating units for supplies, communicating with physicians and other clinical staff, and spending what little down time they have at a nurse’s station.

The experienced nurses on CannonDesign’s advisory team – Blue Cottage of CannonDesign – understand that caring for the patient is the top priority. They bring valuable insight to healthcare systems where efficiency for the entire multidisciplinary team, especially the nursing workflow, are a key focus.

“As healthcare professionals, we can also realize the impacts of the design intentions and support the client organizations to understand how the new programming and spaces may alter their current processes such as staffing, finances and quality. The goal is to have a sustainable change,” says Bryna Rabishaw RN, MBA, of the Blue Cottage of  CannonDesign team.

To celebrate Nurses Week, here are six ways a nurse’s perspective influences how our architects, engineers, and the rest of the design team make a nurse’s job and mission easier in new hospital and clinical spaces.

Keeping nurses at center stage

Nurses stations have traditionally been the central point of activity in an inpatient hospital – it’s where staff meet, complete their charting, and have central access to resources. These frequently become chaotic spaces (think how nurses’ stations are often the center of drama on medical TV shows) that get congested and limit access and visibility for patients. Our staff have worked with facilities on the centralized as well as the decentralized models, which put nurses closer to patients and gives them their own workspace throughout the unit. But there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for every hospital, there are ways to make each option work depending on the needs of the patient population and the staff.

Our nurses know that line of sight to patients is really important and our team has the expertise to guide them through the process and determine if a decentralized approach is best. A new open-concept space may sound like a dream to a nurse used to working in close quarters, but if the patient population isn’t compatible with a decentralized approach, it ultimately won’t be any more efficient or helpful for the nursing and clinical staff. Our team works to analyze all factors on a unit floor and what type of design and workflow will be best for patients and staff.

Our nurses speak clinical and design jargon

Clinical staff see the nurses on our staff as “translators” between them and the design team. “We’ve walked in their shoes and understand their needs,” says Susan Silverman, MSN, a clinical planner on the Blue Cottage team. “We bring a certain comfort level when they’re not understanding design terminology or don’t understand how their idea will be interpreted by an architect or engineer. We help them understand the outcome and determine if it’s something that will not only make their lives easier, but also make for better patient care.”

Our team is often working with nursing staff who have been at an institution for many years and may not be aware of new technology or alternate methods of care delivery. We work to introduce new solutions to issues nurses deal with every day: Are they able to easily visualize their patients in case a situation turns life or death? Do they have easy access to supplies and medications? Does the space help make patients and their loved ones feel at ease?

Nurses need advocates, too

A new space often means a whole new way of operating. Access to patients and necessary supplies are a nurse’s priority, and something they provide valuable insight on during the design process. “Many times, we have nurses and clinical staff who want to improve efficiency and workflow,” says Roxanne Butler, RN, of Blue Cottage. “It’s just a matter of advocating for them, giving them a voice in the design process and letting them know how we can make patient care easier.”

Several states now allow “one stop shop” spaces where nurses can pick up medications, supplies, and sometimes even food. This requires some advance work on the nurse’s end to determine everything they need, but at the end of the day if they’re not having to leave the room to go get something as often, it’s proven to be a positive for patients and nurses.

Nurses sweat the (not so) small stuff

Nurses, who spend more time than anyone else in the patients’ room, know those tables are just another thing to shove out of the way during an emergency, along with visitor sleep sofas or chairs. Nurses see how visitors use furniture, and what is and isn’t useful.

Our healthcare interiors team often invites key nursing staff along with infection prevention, facilities, environmental services to furniture fairs to help select what will work best. No one knows the patient population and the demographics of a specific community better than the nursing staff and those who ensure patient safety in those spaces every day.

A break space is necessary for nurses

While the focus is always on patient care, nurses need a break too. Providing a respite space for nurses to temporarily disconnect is important, particularly during long shifts and with a potentially large patient load. Nurses are also more connected via technology than ever before. They can communicate with one another and with patients via wireless call systems, track equipment down with GPS technology and do all charting electronically. Having a space to disconnect, even if only for a brief time, is always a design priority.

“A nurse’s level of commitment to their job and patient care is so high, they may often forfeit a break to the cafeteria or leave their unit,” said Margi Kaminski, co-director of our Healthcare Interiors Practice. “We want to create a robust break area so they are able to have some kind of respite.”

Working to the top of the nursing license

Nurses are often described as being on the frontlines of patient care, and the ones who know a healthcare space more intimately than even doctors or other healthcare staff who are in and out of multiple spaces.

Nurses are so entrusted with meeting patient’s needs that they often end up doing tasks outside their professional training and clinical responsibilities. Julie Dumser, RN, co-leader of the Surgery, Interventional and Imagine Subject Matter Expert team, recalls a client and its nursing staff that was struggling with the placement of patient lockers that stored valuables. Before even considering the design challenge, Julie asked if inventorying patient belongings should even be one of their duties. Because the nurses had been doing this task for so long, they hadn’t even considered it shouldn’t be considered a vital part of their job. By looking at a design issue from a nurse’s perspective, Julie was able to work with the team and get the lockers near the waiting area where patients and their visitors were responsible for their own belongings, and nurses could concentrate on clinical care.

Learn more about Blue Cottage of CannonDesign >

Troy D’Ambrosio: Educating Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs Today

  • May 8, 2019
  • Author: CannonDesign

Two years after opening Lassonde Studios – a breakthrough entrepreneurial education building – the University of Utah has quintupled the number of student-led startups on campus, bolstered its national undergraduate and graduate program rankings, increased student engagement, enrollment, scholarships and funding. A success by numerous measures, Lassonde Studios has also earned honors and/or media coverages from SXSWedu, ACUI, Fast Company, the New York Times, Business Insider, Bloomberg and more.

Troy D’Ambrosio, Assistant Dean and Executive Director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, recently took time to chat with us about the building, the companies it’s generating, and what it means for education moving forward.

With four floors of student housing and an entrepreneurial hangar space all under the same roof, Lassonde Studios is an entirely new type of building. Can you walk us through how your team found a vision for this breakthrough learning space?

We’re a state university, so there’s a state process that we go through when building a new project. We initiated that process, and they kind of jumped the gun on, “This is what the building is supposed to be like.” We weren’t really happy with that. We were like, “You’ve already figured out what you want this to be before we’ve even really thought about it?”

From there, we hired a consultant to go out and look at different spaces. My initial thought was we were going to find something that would be pretty close to what we wanted to do, and as we got into it, we really found out that wasn’t the case. What came out of that initial process was a couple of things: we established where we were as a program, what we aspired to be, where we hoped to go with the program and how a physical facility could help us get there.

We also created a vocabulary around the building, and when we started working with Mehrdad Yazdani and their team, we were able to identify what the DNA of the building was, and then we took the DNA and put it into a physical structure. We did student workshops and had students putting stickers on equipment and furniture, etc. Often you do those studies and they just go on the shelf, but in this case, I can walk you around and show you almost everything in the building that is there today that came from those workshops. It wasn’t just an exercise, it led to the creation of the building.

We often jump to the numerical success of Lassonde Studios – quintupling student-led startups, etc. – but what types of individual companies are being started at Lassonde Studios?

The individual companies and products and the students generating them, that’s my favorite piece to talk about it. We have most of their stories captured on our blog and in our annual reports, but here are a few great stories.

  • ESHOP Tanzania: In Tanzania, there is little industry so they must import electronics and supplies, but there is little distribution infrastructure so companies like Amazon and eBay don’t operate there. Bonaventure Mhonda launched an e-commerce platform and distribution network that could work in Tanzania while at Lassonde Studios. He now lives in Dar es Salaam – the New York City of Tanzania – and is growing that business.
  • ColoClean: After learning that 25% of colonoscopy patients don’t complete the proper prep and still show up for the procedure with organic material in their colon, biomedical engineering student Tobi Yoon created ColoClean. The colonoscopy prep kit comes with anti-nausea medical, Miralax-type powder that has been condensed into pills and a colonoscopy-friendly cookbook.
  • Boundary: Cavin Nicholson came back to study at Lassonde Studios after already starting and selling a previous company. Back at Lassonde, he launched Boundary, a company focused on creating technically innovative and sustainable backpacks and similar outdoor gear. He raised over $600,000 on Kickstarter to help fuel the company.

There are so many great and inspiring stories, it’s hard to pick just a few. I really encourage those interested to read our blog.

This building responds to shifts in students’ learning preferences and increased interest in entrepreneurship – can you talk about those changes and how Lassonde Studios strategically addresses them?

We have found that students are becoming much more entrepreneurial. Students from across campus are coming up with new ideas for products and services, and they want to develop them and see how far they can take it. We serve this trend by helping students in a wide variety of ways to prototype and test their idea and then bring it to market.

While students are working on an entrepreneurial project, they want easy access to real-time learning. They want immediate access to the skills and tools they need to bring it to the next level. We are fulfilling this desire by offering many programs that are accessible to students on a monthly, weekly or daily basis.

At Lassonde Studios, students can learn about prototyping tools and build their product any day of the week. We offer monthly seed grants to help students reach a defined milestone. We also have regular workshops and mentor hours so students can gain the skills they need to be successful.

Just as this building responds to change, you know more change is coming to education. How did you equip Lassonde Studios to respond to future change?

Lassonde Studios embraces flexibility, adaptability and creative change on numerous fronts. For students living here, the 24/7 nature of the building empowers them to act on their creative ideas at any moment, be it 3 a.m. or 3 p.m. Moreover, any student using the building is able to use the entrepreneurial hangar as they see fit. We don’t have rules that stifle innovation, if students can hack the space or use different tools in new ways, that’s the whole purpose of the building. Space itself is a tool to advance their companies, products and ideas.

From an infrastructure design standpoint, the building is also designed on a flexible grid system that will allow it to evolve and adapt to changes in technology, student needs and more over time. We know the building will need to operate and function differently five, 10 and 20 years into the future – it’s ready to do so.

We’ve talked a decent amount about the building, but what’s the secret ingredient making your program and its students so successful?

In my opinion, the secret ingredient is the diversity of ideas the building welcomes. Students from any class (freshman through graduate student) and discipline are welcome to live and learn here. Many of the companies and products we’ve seen students launch were created from the collision of ideas from disparate industries or fields. People talk a lot about the need to break down silos, well, there are no silos at Lassonde Studios and that’s making such a huge difference.

Read more on HORIZON >

In Support of mindful MATERIALS

  • May 2, 2019
  • Author: CannonDesign

We are proud supporters of mindful MATERIALS, a unique industry collaborative that helps designers and their clients make sustainability-focused product decisions.

An intuitive and practical product selection tool, the mindful MATERIALS library empowers designers to seek and find building products and materials that are leading the way in material transparency. The Library catalogs sustainability criteria such as material ingredients, environmental profiles, LEED v4 and WELL compliance, VOC emissions and other determinants. When leveraged, mindful MATERIALS helps design teams successfully advance environmental goals, reduce billable hours related to sustainable product sourcing, enhance product selection transparency, and learn about new sustainability products and possibilities.

“As the design industry continues to amplify its impact in the creation of sustainable design solutions for the built environment, we need breakthrough tools like the mindful MATERIALS,” said Mike Cavanaugh, CannonDesign’s sustainability leader. “Our clients are seeking healthier and more environmentally-conscious spaces where they can thrive. The mindful MATERIALS library helps our industry create such spaces and meet these goals, while also making positive impacts on our planet. We’re proud to support this initiative.”

Mindful MATERIALS is powered by Origin technology that connects product and certification data from manufacturers with certifications, declarations and test reports from reporting bodies. As information is updated from either entity, it updates in real-time in the Library. Beyond its Library, mindful MATERIALS also hosts events across the country and webinars to further educate design partners and owners.

The growth of the mindful MATERIALS collaborative was recognized this week at Living Future Conference in Seattle, WA.

Learn more about mindful MATERIALS >

Three Exciting Features of Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Surgical Tower and ED

  • February 7, 2019
  • Author: CannonDesign

As part of an exciting stretch for Mount Sinai Medical Center (MSMC) just two weeks back, the health system cut the ribbon on its new Skolnick Surgical Tower and Hildebrandt Emergency Center and also welcomed first patients to the facility. The South Florida Business Times covered the exciting events and highlighted the dynamic new health facility and the value it brings to the Miami Beach region.

The opening of the new 340,000-sf surgical tower and ED is a transformational moment for MSMC as it equips them to enhance the care they bring to their patients and community for generations. Our team was proud to design the facility and work with MSMC leadership to realize their full vision for the project.

With the Skolnick Surgical Tower and Hildebrandt Emergency Center now open, we thought we’d share three exciting new features of the building.

1. An Iconic Building with One-of-a-Kind Views
The surgical tower expansion project was always envisioned as an opportunity to create a beautiful and transformative new centerpiece for the MSMC campus. The building’s sweeping façade is designed with compound curves instead of straight lines to help ensure its visual impact. These curves maximize spectacular views of surrounding Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline for patients, visitors and staff.

The building skin is comprised of durable precast concrete panels along three different axis, producing three-dimensional wall panels which change dramatically the aesthetics of the building as the strong Miami sun modulates the shadows cast throughout the day. While these panels cast an actively changing shadow on the exterior, the shadow helps keep the exterior glass of patient rooms – which run the full width of the room – in a gentle shade. This helps patients embrace the sun and vista without experiencing the harsh challenges of a strong sun.

The project also relies on timeless and contemporary materials and the incorporation of artwork both inside and out gives the new hospital a human-centric, museum-inspired aesthetic.

2. Remarkable Focus on Patient and Staff Experience
To create a patient-centered healing environment, MSMC’s new health building separates patient and public traffic from staff and support circulation, reduces noise and acoustic transmission to create a quieter atmosphere. and includes all private patient rooms with ample space for family and visitors. In total, the new emergency center spans 35,000 sf across 50 treatment bays, almost tripling the size of the previous facility, while the new surgical tower offers 154 patient rooms.

At the same time, staff enjoy a supportive and operationally-efficient environment that reduces the distances they need to travel during their work days, and empowers them with technological advances in the new ED and 12 state-of-the-art operating rooms. This focus helps MSMC recruit and retain leading physicians and surgeons from around the world.

“There is no question our surgical volume will be on the rise because we are recruiting more surgeons to our staff,” MSMC CEO Steven Sonenreich told the South Florida Business Times. “And as we recruit them and they tour the facilities on this campus, (this building) will be a great recruiting tool.”

3. Designed to Withstand Hurricanes and Natural Disasters
Given the tower’s unique location on the coastline, the entire facility is designed to embrace flexibility and resiliency, ensuring it will be able to provide access to care for generations to come. In fact, it was a design imperative, as Mount Sinai is the only hospital and emergency services provider located on Miami Beach and the barrier islands, doubling as a safe haven for the community during catastrophic weather events.

To that end, the surgical tower was built to withstand hurricane force winds in excess of 185 mph, 100-year flood water levels, and extended power outages. In fact, the hospital even withstood Hurricane Irma in fall 2017 with no significant damage, even while still in the midst of construction. Key to the building’s resiliency was ensuring all infrastructure systems—including electricity, gas lines, water, telecommunications, and storm water—were upgraded for redundancy. The project site was also elevated multiple feet to meet Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) flood level standards, which proves helpful during high tides and the especially high king tides, which can occur during new or full moons. Other resilient design features include locating critical patient care units on upper floors to avoid flooding, an emergency command center for the City of Miami Beach on the second floor, and an emergency department ambulance canopy that can accommodate an influx of emergency vehicles during natural or any other type of disaster.

The opening of a dynamic new project like MSMC’s new tower and expanded ED is a remarkable moment. We were thrilled to be on hand to watch the team cut the ribbon and take pride knowing this building will help countless people live healthier lives.

Ben Juckes: Pushing Boundaries Through Computational Design

  • January 21, 2019
  • Author: CannonDesign

Surfing comes naturally to Ben Juckes, but contrary to what you’d think, he did not take up the sport in his native Australia, one of the world’s premier surfing destinations.

It wasn’t until he moved to Los Angeles and began working at Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign, the in-house laboratory led by Mehrdad Yazdani with a staff of approximately 20 architects, designers, 3D artists, technical specialists and other creative thinkers.

For Ben, the sports’ appeal was always more about the surfboard, the idea of manipulating its form to maximize its performance – the architecture of it all. He plunged into the study of computational design (CD) in Perth, where he pursued a Bachelor of Environmental Science in Architecture at the University of Western Australia (UWA). There weren’t any courses in CD there, however, a one-year student exchange program at the University of Arizona introduced him to visual programming languages like Grasshopper.

“I was blown away by all the tools and technologies that people were using there,” Ben recalls. “The idea that you had the ability to harness complicated geometries through simple procedures really fit with my style of designing, and I decided that this is the way I wanted to practice architecture.”

Ben returned to UWA and earned his M.Arch, continuing to develop his skills in CD. He, along with fellow students and professors who were early adopters, established the “Hub,” a regular event for students to collaborate and share knowledge. He was also part of the team behind Augmented Australia, an exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2014, curated by the creative team known as felix._Giles_Anderson+Goad. It included apps that allowed users to visualize unbuilt modern and historic structures across the country.

After graduating, Ben transitioned from teaching evening classes on parametric modeling to taking on sessional staff positions at his alma mater. Though he enjoyed being in academia and plans to return to it someday, he felt driven to gain practical experience.

“I realized I needed to immerse myself in the industry before I (could) actually teach people!” says Ben.

Drawn back to the States, he settled in Los Angeles, which offered a similar laid-back vibe and warm climate to Perth. A friend introduced him to Yazdani Studio. Though he had been focused on computer modeling, seeing the many physical models displayed around the studio was one of the reasons he knew it was the right fit for him.

“You walk in and see it’s a playground of models,” says Ben. “That says something about the way the studio operates and that it’s a really cool, collaborative environment.”

Four years later, he is now an associate, having established himself as an expert in CD. One of his greatest strengths is creating DIY tools and custom workflows that challenge conventional practice.

The studio doesn’t have a dedicated CD team; rather, each staff member is encouraged to explore their own ideas in organic ways.“We have shaped our tools, but the tools are now starting to shape us,” Ben observes. “The term ‘computational design’ covers an extremely broad variety of roles and relationships. As it becomes more widely used across the industry, we will start to see bigger distinctions between these roles and the creation of more specialized divisions.”

“With a more diverse range of roles, coupled with advancements in technologies and applications, I think architects will retreat from outsourcing and create a new paradigm of insourcing,” Ben adds.

The first project Ben worked on with Yazdani was Lassonde Studios at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, a typology definer that hybridizes maker space and dormitory pods. The team utilized visual programming languages, like the Kangaroo plugin for Grasshopper, Dynamo for Revit, and other tools, to map relationships between programmatic elements. They also created a virtual reality game to help the university promote the project.

More recently, Ben has been focusing on Address Harbor Point, a set of slender, tapered residential towers on the waterfront in Dubai. By creating multiple iterations of physical models via 3D printers and utilizing Galapagos, another plugin for Grasshopper, Ben and his team have explored subtle rotations of the towers’ forms to investigate sight lines and maximize views from each unit.

These diverse experiences at Yazdani Studios have given Ben the space to dive even deeper into what excites him.

“A great thing about the style and culture Merhdad has created is that we all touch the projects in different facets, but we are encouraged to pursue and explore our own interests.” Those interests include making furniture, and, of course, surfing. He’s finally learned to surf along the coast of Los Angeles.

“I keep it practical outside of work,” says Ben. “It’s important to mix analog with digital. You have to get your hands dirty sometimes.”

Positive Energy & Excitement: Setting the Tone for Buffalo’s Future

  • January 10, 2019
  • Author: CannonDesign

The inaugural Buffalo Urban Futures Forum proved a success last Thursday at Buffalo’s famed Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The event brought together local leaders key to Buffalo’s recent resurgence to take part in a panel discussion about what comes next regarding urban development, infrastructure investment, sustainability and innovation for the city. We were proud to host the event in partnership with Next City, an international organization focused on inspiring better cities. Beyond the panelists, more than 200 attendees from standout Buffalo organizations attended to listen, contribute to the conversation, and think big about Buffalo’s future. A video of the event can be viewed on our Facebook page along with a photo gallery.

The full list of presenters and panelists included:

  • Michael Tunkey, Principal at CannonDesign, welcoming remarks
  • Tom Dallessio, President, CEO & Publisher of Next City, keynote presentation
  • Frank Cravotta, Executive VP of Creative Services for Pegula Sports & Entertainment Group
  • Tom Dee, President at Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation
  • Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Director of Programs for PUSH Buffalo
  • Bill Maggio, Partner at Lorraine Capital and Chairman of 43North
  • Kelly Hayes McAlonie, Director of Capital Planning at SUNY Buffalo
  • Eileen Morgan, Chief Human Resources Officer for Delaware North
  • Meg Osman, Executive Director of Corporate/Commercial at CannonDesign, moderator

The discussion focused on bringing a strong cross-section of leaders from Buffalo’s strongest businesses, institutions and nonprofits to think boldly about how the city can capitalize on its recent resurgence for an even brighter future. Here are highlights from the discussion:

Tom Dee on a vision for the city’s waterfront:
“Our vision was established – to revitalize the waterfront and restore economic development. For us, it was all about public access. We have this great waterfront, and it’s so totally underdeveloped and we’re still in our infancy for what we’re doing. When we think about public access as our No. 1 guiding principle, nothing happens until we ensure the public that we get public access to the water’s edge. That’s number one. Number two is things to do. And, we’ve changed and transformed what you can do at the water’s edge. Over the next decade, I’d love to see our waterfront become known as one of the best in the world.”

Kelly Hayes McAlonie on being audacious with design:
“I spend a lot of time studying Buffalo between 1880 to 1910 and in that time, Buffalo brought in the very best architects in the world: Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright and I’m just going to ask you – what top tier architects are we bringing in now? We want and expect to be a top-tier city and I think we once again should be audacious. We should celebrate design the way we did 120 years ago.”

Rahwa Ghirmatzion on investing in existing neighborhoods:
“What we really need to look at as we’re having these conversations is how do we strategically and intentionally invest in (all our) communities and in (all our) youth, and in those sort of older, disadvantaged workers to make sure we’re upscaling them and training them in productive ways that will pay them family-sustaining wages. We need to do more of that. It needs to be serious and intentional and it needs to be now.”

Frank Cravotta on the power of local talent:
“We’ve brought in a lot of national talent for some of our projects, but with our recent effort at 79 Perry Street we looked local and I would say unequivocally that the local talent is excellent and we’re excited to move forward in that direction. We’re having a lot of fun with our new projects and we like it even more because we’re partnering with our neighbors.”

Eileen Morgan on recruiting talent to Buffalo:
“Buffalo is a great place to recruit from. Telling the Buffalo story is less and less of a challenge every week and every day. The resurgence has just been amazing – it’s really about building awareness about all the city has to offer. Because, when we recruit people into our roles, they bring their families. They’re living here, they’re working here – it’s not just about the job opportunity. It’s about schools, entertainment, sports; it’s critical we recognize we’re all invested in the city’s future together.”

Bill Maggio on igniting Buffalo’s start-up scene
“The evolution of everything that’s happening in Buffalo is making it easy for 43North to bring companies here. Having people come to Buffalo is the least of their concerns. Their concerns revolve around raising money, advancing their discoveries, mentorship… What we need is mentorship and so what 43North is doing is going outside Western New York and we’re convincing people who had a connection to Buffalo to come back and mentor these young companies. Mentorship is critically important for us to achieve transformation.”

Our team at CannonDesign is thrilled with the inaugural Buffalo Urban Futures Forum. We see the optimistic conversation as a launch point for more events and new momentum around a brighter future for Buffalo.

Watch the inaugural Buffalo Urban Futures Forum >

2018 Year in Review

  • December 31, 2018
  • Author: CannonDesign

As designers, we are incredibly fortunate to do what we love every day — to help organizations around the world leverage design to grow their missions, help their people, enrich their communities and so much more. As we look toward our future in 2019, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on this past year and share some of our proudest accomplishments.

ARCHITECT 50 ranked CannonDesign #4

The ARCHITECT 50 is the premier industry ranking for US-based architecture firms, and we are thrilled to have ranked #4 overall and #12 in design as part of the 2018 report. This ranking differentiates itself from others by measuring firms not by size or revenue, but on business and sustainability performance and design excellence. Learn more about this ranking.

We hosted our first company-wide Community Service Day

Giving back to our communities has always been a central part of our practice, but this year we took our commitment to a new level by hosting our first company-wide Community Service Day. Across the country, we volunteered with more than 30 nonprofits, devoting more than 2,000 hours to helping organizations like the Urban Farm in Denver, the Fenway Victory Gardens in Boston, the SPCA of Texas and more. See a full recap of our first Community Service Day.

gkkworks joined CannonDesign

Building off the success of our mergers with FKP and Bennett Wagner Grody Architects in 2017, this year, we welcomed gkkworks to the CannonDesign family. The merger brought five new office locations — Irvine, Pasadena and San Diego, California; Denver, Colorado; and Pune, India — and strengthened our ability to provide fully integrated design and construction services within our architecture and engineering practice. Learn more about gkkworks.

We launched our in-house innovation incubator, Amp 

Amp gives every one of our employees the opportunity to research, develop and test new ideas in a structured framework with the opportunity to bring their ideas to market and drive industry and firm-wide change. Since launching the incubator in early 2018, we’ve given seven teams the time and resources needed to push their ideas forward. Teams are exploring ideas like new energy modeling and data processing techniques, a mobile lactation pod concept, opportunities for building controls integration and the launch of CannonDesign’s first hackathon. Learn more about Amp.

We were recognized with 36 awards for design excellence and innovation 

2018 was an outstanding year for design recognition — as evidenced by the 36 awards we received for design excellence (and our #12 design ranking in the ARCHITECT 50). Although we don’t measure the success of our work purely on design awards, it’s always wonderful receiving third-party recognition from organizations and jurors we respect and admire. Awards included national recognition from the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), American Institute of Architects, Fast Company, Interior Design Magazine, FRAME magazine and more. See the full list.

CJ Blossom Park was named the best new laboratory in the world

Every year, R&D magazine recognizes exemplary research environments with Lab of the Year Awards — the world’s most prestigious honor for laboratory design. In 2018, CJ Blossom Park, designed by CannonDesign, was the only project to receive this honor. The design of the 1.2 million SF building is founded on our “New Scientific Workplace” concept — a radical design approach that replaces traditional laboratory planning ideas with integrated innovation strategies to create boundary-less environments that increase productivity, efficiency and creativity. Learn more.

We strengthened our commitment to diversity in the profession by launching our Diversity + Inclusion Council

Started largely as a grassroots effort by employees, our Diversity + Inclusion Council pushes forward programming focused on enriching the employee experience, fostering inclusiveness and driving change in the industry. One of the group’s signature events this year was a live broadcast with architectural historian Despina Stratigakos to present a lecture based on her book, “Where Are the Women Architects?” Learn more about our Diversity + Inclusion Council.

We took advanced design technology and data-driven design to new heights

Advanced technologies help us work smarter and more efficiently while pushing the boundaries of design. In 2018, we partnered with NVIDIA to launch Holodeck, a tool that empowers multi-user virtual reality experiences to enhance client communication and design outcomes, and took our use of data-driven design and visualization to new levels. Take a look at the 10 ways we’re using technology to deliver more value to our clients.

We completed 100+ projects

Across North America, more than 100 projects of all scales designed by CannonDesign reached completion. Although we think they’re all wonderful, here’s a few standouts:  VCU Medical Center’s Virginia Treatment Center for Children, which was designed to destigmatize behavioral healthcare; York University’s new Student Centre, which was designed to be one of the most inclusive university buildings in the world; and Texas Children’s Hospital’s 25-story Legacy Tower, which is providing care to some of the most critically ill and medically complex children. Check out more of our recent work, here.

A banner year for media coverage

Our projects, ideas and people were fortunate to be covered by hundreds of media outlets this year. Here’s some of our favorites: Metropolis featured our behavioral health practice and how CannonDesign is using architecture to help solve America’s mental health crisis; Popular Science featured CannonDesign and our projects in an article about designing storm-resilient hospitals; Waukee Innovation and Learning Center was profiled in The 74 Million as a “model for the nation”; a confidential CannonDesign project earned the cover of Architectural Record’s interiors issue; and Curbed wrote an article about our Yazdani Studio and the important role it plays in our practice. See all of our recent media coverage on the insights page of our website.

2018 will absolutely go down in the books as one of our favorite years yet. And while this year in review gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on all we have accomplished, we already have our sights set on the future. Here’s looking at you 2019!

Four Exciting Takeaways from Innovation Accelerated By Design

  • November 26, 2018
  • Author: CannonDesign

The inaugural Innovation Accelerated By Design event hosted by CannonDesign’s Los Angeles office explored the role of design in spurring innovation. Last Thursday, more than 100 designers, educators, health and business leaders and innovators came together to hear leaders from Kaiser Permanente, Showtime and University of Utah share thoughts on how design can fuel innovation.

Hosted at the Herman Miller Showroom, Innovation Accelerated By Design welcomed inspiring presentations, sparked interesting dialogue, and offered exciting peeks into the future of design. The event featured a series of TED-style presentations followed by a panel discussion moderated by CannonDesign’s Director of Strategy, Swapna Sathyan.

Our moderator and speakers (From L-R) Swapna Sathyan, Mehrdad Yazdani, Troy D’Ambrosio, Sunil Shah, Jana Winograde

Starting with this inaugural event, our team is excited to build on the momentum generated and continue to feature thought leaders and industry experts through various channels and events in 2019 and beyond. For those unable to attend or simply interested, here’s a look at four key takeaways from last Thursday’s event.

Internal Disruption is Important
Sunil Shah, Kaiser Permanente’s VP of Facilities Strategy, Planning & Design, kicked off the evening with a thorough look at the health system’s legacy of innovation. He shared that from Kaiser Permanente’s perspective, “(their) buildings need to be a beacon – so what does that mean for design?” From breakthrough cancer centers, to its Health Hub concept, and even its new School of Medicine, Kaiser Permanente consistently leads the health industry in generating novel ideas to meet shifting customer demand and preferences.

Sunil was clear that this innovation doesn’t just happen and he shared that Kaiser Permanente is fully aware it must constantly “internally disrupts ourselves” to foster these exciting ideas and concepts. Sunil then focused more on how his team has opened around 50 medical office buildings since 2015 that reshape patient experience in healthcare. He shared that in healthcare, “Customer experience matters. Brand matters. The healthcare doctor’s office has a much broader role than an episodic event that happens in people’s lives.”

This recognition guides so much of Kaiser Permanente’s design efforts and they’ve rooted their visionary responses to elevating customer experience in “design, technology, services models and operational models.”

Unleashing Creativity Can Be Intentional
As one of the leading entertainment media companies in the world, Showtime Networks is a paragon for fueling creativity. The company’s President of Business Operations Jana Winograde shared how the company has redesigned its workplace in Los Angeles to empower its creative people and culture for the decades ahead. She highlighted, “For Showtime, it was about having a space that encouraged the creative process in every way, and creating and designing spaces for that.”

Jana touched on numerous features of the new workplace (set to open in 2019) as she shared renderings and video fly-throughs. She touched on how the company integrated technology, screening rooms, collaborative space and pushed the design solutions to inherently inspire those who will work within it. She also focused her presentation on Showtime’s need to “design a space that can adapt to industry change.” Jana shared that with the entertainment industry seeing new entrants in the form of technology companies, company culture, and recruit and retain is shifting in dynamic new ways.

“We looked across industries for the best workplace ideas and pushed ourselves to think about what we’ll need today, tomorrow, 10 years from now, to thrive. It’s a moving target; that’s how we think about our business, and we brought that same perspective to the workplace design process.”

Welcome Ideas from Everywhere
Troy D’Ambrosio, the Executive Director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at University of Utah, then took the stage to share how just two years after the university opened its breakthrough entrepreneurial education building, Lassonde Studios, it has quintupled the number of student-led startups on campus. “Last year, we had over 500 startups and 100 of those are still running,” he shared. Beyond this startup amplification, Lassonde Studios has also helped the University of Utah jump up in national rankings, increase student engagement on campus and accelerate funding streams.

In his presentation, Troy identified “unique compression of talent,” as a core driver for this success. Lassonde Studios welcomes students from all disciplines and levels to live in its 400+ residences and every student on campus is welcome to use its ground floor 20,000 square foot entrepreneurial hangar. The building enhances this idea of idea-sharing, as Troy added, “not only did we mashup students, but we mashed up types of spaces, like open collaborative zones, prototype spaces, workshops, hackable spaces, you name it.”

Troy added that one of the defining marks of Lassonde Studios is that students define it. “I walked in recently, and there was someone riding a scooter, someone playing the piano… it’s non-stop action and it’s 24/7 for those who live within it.”


It’s an Extraordinary Time to Be a Designer
Our own Mehrdad Yazdani helped close the series of presentations with a look at how the design process is evolving and why it must continually evolve to help organizations meet their ever-present challenges. After enthusiastically telling the attendees it was an extraordinary time to be a designer, Mehrdad shared that “we are living in a world that is rapidly changing. The emergence of new technology, (the) convergence of new generations – everything about how we work is changing.” To accommodate this change and stay relevant, Mehrdad concluded, “designers must change, too.”

Mehrdad’s presentation then focused on how prototyping, emerging technologies and new processes all help designers engage their clients and identify new solutions and opportunities that never previously existed. Having worked with Sunil from Kaiser and Troy from University of Utah closely, Mehrdad was able to highlight anecdotes from the design processes that informed their projects and unite the presentations dynamically.

“In such a remarkably evolving world, design is a common denominator that can help businesses, health systems, educators – it’s a powerful tool to help us create a brighter future.”

Inspired by the series of presentations and discussion, several audience members had questions for the crowd. The group also enjoyed the atmosphere of the Herman Miller showroom, food and drinks after the formal presentation had concluded.

Our team was thrilled with the quality of speakers for our inaugural event, their insightful presentations and we look forward to building on the great start to this event series.

Read more on HORIZON >

Deb Sheehan Named to National Design-Build Institute of America Board of Directors

  • November 15, 2018
  • Author: CannonDesign

The Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) has elected Deb Sheehan, CannonDesign’s executive director of strategy, to its national board of directors. In this role, Deb will join a board composed of design-build innovators from across the country focused on promoting the proven efficiencies of an integrated design-build approach.

The DBIA is an organization of more than 5,000 members. It functions as the industry’s preeminent resource for leadership, education, objective expertise and best practices for design-build — the fastest growing method used to deliver construction projects in America.

“The value of design-build project delivery is immense, and it is quickly becoming the premier way to deliver capital projects,” said Praful Kulkarni, fellow board member, 2017 board chair and chairman of the nomination committee. “Deb has devoted much of her career to advancing innovative ideas related to project delivery and will be a tremendous asset to the DBIA as we continue to grow and guide the future of design-build.”

With a background in business management, engineering, architecture and construction, Deb has overseen the design and delivery of more than $4 billion of design solutions for client organizations across the globe. She has led several high-profile projects delivered via integrated project delivery (IPD) and spearheaded the creation of CannonDesign’s construction delivery services division, which offers in-house design-build and construction support services. Recognizing the immense value of prefabrication, Deb also led CannonDesign in co-founding Modular Design Plus, a company offering prefabricated, modular building solutions that can be fully customized to meet client goals for design and functionality.

“The way architects and contractors deliver projects is quickly changing,” said Deb. “There is a lot of waste and inefficiency in traditional delivery methods and design-build has proven to deliver enhanced outcomes to clients. I’m thrilled to help the DBIA continue to evolve and broaden its influence on project delivery across the country.”

Deb, along with her fellow newly appointed board members, will assume this board leadership position in January 2019.