Five Big Ideas from the 2019 Laboratory Design Conference

  • May 13, 2019
  • Author: Danielle Larrabee

Our expert laboratory designers attended and presented recently at the 2019 Laboratory Design conference in Orlando, Florida, where the Lab of the Year award winners were also announced. Two inspiring projects were included, with special recognition going to University of Texas at Dallas Engineering and Computer Science West. The overall winner was MIT.nano, a brand-new nanotechnology facility at the Massachusetts Institute of technology.

We came away inspired and ready to take on the challenges our clients face when designing modern laboratories to meet the needs of science research and learning. Here are the five big ideas from the conference that stood out to us.

1. Researcher wellness is priority No. 1 to recruit and retain top talent





The modern scientist is rightfully demanding more out of his/her research environment. Often, traditional methodologies and long-lasting beliefs of laboratory design are not the right fit of the fast-changing, constantly innovating institutions of today. Our own Steven Copenhagen and Toni Loiacano discussed three case studies where traditional lab planning ideas were replaced by innovative lab design strategies — helping these organizations create dynamic and boundary-less environments to increase productivity, efficiency and creativity. The case studies were:

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Building 201

CJ Blossom Park

Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Cambridge Campus

2. Smart labs give a huge advantage to analyzing building performance

Smart buildings are nothing new, but technology in the laboratory environment is more robust and abundant than ever before. Jeffrey Zapfe from Acentech and Jorg Scholvin from MIT presented on the Laboratory of the Year 2019 winner, MIT.nano, a brand-new nanotechnology facility at the Massachusetts Institute of technology. To prevent future performance degradation, MIT.nano is using a real-time and continuous live monitoring of the building’s environment so that any issues can be proactively identified and fixed.

3. Excellent design can help our clients achieve higher national research rankings

Expertly designed laboratories can boost a research institution’s ranking by focusing on key factors within the ranking process. Brian Kowalchuk of HDR discussed how creating a successful, iconic research facility can positively influence ranking factors such as grant funding, commitment to growth, peer recognition, distinguished faculty and alumni, and many others.

4. Designing sustainable laboratories are no longer an option – it is a priority






With an increased focus on the bottom line, organizations are constantly searching for money-saving solutions for their largest energy-consuming building assets. Often, laboratories consume the most energy due to air change rates and specialized equipment. Many presentations covered novel concepts that could be introduced in laboratory environments. Punit Jain from CannonDesign presented on Webster University’s Interdisciplinary Science Building where unique stormwater management features and an existing chilled water loop system won the project an ASHRAE award for innovation.

5. We need to start thinking about the next generation of laboratory designers

The final session of the conference focused on the future with a panel discussion about the next generation of laboratory designers. Cynthia Walston from CannonDesign moderated the panel that included Patricia Larrabee from Facility Logix, Punit Jain from CannonDesign, and Victoria David from DLR Group. Preparing for the next generation of lab designers requires current professionals to mentor and train those passionate about lab design. They discussed topics like diversity, training programs, professional development, recruitment and a call to action to create local chapters of I2SL and AIA Knowledge Communities for Lab Design to enable exposure for emerging professionals as well as get involved in the schools.

A Long-Term Internship in Baltimore Inspires a Bright Future

  • March 27, 2019
  • Author: Danielle Larrabee

When high school sophomore Brayan Perez began his internship in CannonDesign’s Baltimore office, he never knew how much his experience would influence his future.

Brayan, a 4.0 student in his senior year at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, is now positioned to graduate with incredible college and university prospects. His unique three-year internship with CannonDesign has taught him not only technical skills in his desired field but also how to communicate with project teams and gain the confidence needed to conquer anything that comes his way.

At Cristo Rey High School, students are required to participate in a Corporate Internship Program (CIP) where they can learn and grow through entry-level jobs at businesses and non-profits throughout the Baltimore area. Through CIP, the students are able to contribute to the cost of their education by working five full days a month. CannonDesign has been a proud supporter of the program for three years.

Students are welcome to explore different internships as an option, but Brayan, who wanted to gain as much STEM experience as possible, decided after his first year that CannonDesign was the right choice for him. He worked with a diverse team of leaders to learn the ropes. Briana Jones, a rising leader in the Baltimore office and a member of the firm’s prestigious NEXT Council, was Brayan’s direct supervisor, overseeing his schedule and work. Erin Crowley, with a background in Interior Design, was another one of Brayan’s supervisors, giving him an even broader array of tasks and perspectives than many would experience on an AEC team. Adamant about not giving Brayan mindless “busy work,” his two mentors empowered him to make meaningful contributions on an array of projects that even a seasoned professional would be proud of.

His portfolio includes the 340,000 sf University of Maryland Cole Field House that combines athletics, medicine, research and entrepreneurship into a one-of-a-kind fusion facility. This was the first project he was introduced to, contributing to markups, room tags schedules, and making sheets graphically correct. Then, during his junior and senior years, he helped document the elevations of spaces within the orthopedic clinic for the Design Documents deliverable.

The Towson University Science Facility is a 300,000 sf building designed to serve present and future faculty and student needs. Brayan was able to collaborate with coworkers picking up markups from team Bluebeam sessions. He also worked with Alec Dumond on slab edge coordination plans that were regularly distributed to the structural engineers, as well as working with Alec on a curved stair section details for the 95% Construction Documents set.

Sheppard Pratt Health System’s new hospital campus is a 156,000 sf hospital that focuses on mental health treatments. Brayan was asked to create a collaborative room for employees while merging the collaborative core with the stair to minimize wasted space. This exploration was fun and unique to Brayan, as he largely worked more independently on these tasks and regularly reviewed his design ideas with people on the team, like Christina LoConte. He worked with new software, like Rhino and Grasshopper, to create the collaboration space and model stairs. Afterwards, Brayan 3D printed the collaboration room with the help of Adam Louie.

Virginia Tech’s War Memorial Hall offers students remarkably unified health and wellness programming long into the future. This has been a long-time project for Brayan that has given him exposure to the phases of a project and a complex understanding of how higher education and health are tied into this one project. He had the opportunity to get involved in the early stages of space planning and preparing for user meetings. As the project progressed, he was just as involved, helping to push the design intent for the interior of the building and working with the team to put together the latest set of DD drawings.

While on the Lancaster General Hospital project, Brayan contributed to the Quality Check/Quality Assurance process for the Phase 3 100% Construction Documents. For the multi-phased hospital renovation project, Brayan helped with the wall type schedule and markups while learning about the challenges of a multi-phased project. For the wall type schedule, he went through the plan and checked if the wall partition types were correct and made sure to coordinate the wall partition schedule as a reference to make any corrections on the wall types. As the project neared its “Issue for Construction” deadline he referenced Ashley Roe’s markups and corrected any graphic mistakes in the Construction set.

Aside from project work, Brayan has always been very interested in learning more about our engineering practice. Briana leveraged a NEXT connection to structural engineer Julie Shaw in St. Louis. Julie worked with Briana to amass a mentoring group of emerging leaders across the firm that they called Mentoring Academies by Engineers (MAE). The team allowed Brayan to truly run the show, using Microsoft Teams to manage communication. Through one-on-one collaborative and discursive academies, Brayan was able to hear more about their roles and learn about all of the different engineering disciplines. Brayan is currently applying to colleges and universities for engineering, so this provides him with a great opportunity to learn more about this particular academic and professional career. Colin Hale and Trevor Ingstrup have given Brayan great time and insight thus far, with anticipated mentoring from structural and plumbing before his last day at the Baltimore office in May.

But it was not only the phenomenal project experience and career insights that Brayan credits to the CannonDesign internship. He also learned valuable soft skills that he will carry with him for the rest of his career. At the outset, he admits he was a quiet kid and was nervous working in an environment surrounded by adults. But, after mentoring from Briana and other members of the Baltimore office, he became more comfortable contributing to group meetings and sharing ideas.

Brayan is a shining example of what a high school student can accomplish in an engaging and welcoming internship program. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors in college and beyond!


Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Building 201 Celebrates Topping Out

  • February 7, 2019
  • Author: Danielle Larrabee

The team from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Building 201 recently celebrated the topping out ceremony – reaching a significant milestone in the design and construction process.

Explore the project here >

This iconic building will house the Research and Exploratory Development Department (REDD), an innovative and creative organization at the heart of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory’s current research and development team.

Jim Schatz, Head of Research & Exploratory Development, gave an inspiring speech during the ceremony. A few of his remarks are below.

“Today we reach an exciting milestone in the journey from design to construction of an amazing new facility here at APL which we usually refer to simply as Building 201. We envisioned a new kind of laboratory facility for APL … A building that would be an active and inspirational part of the innovation process. A building where you could walk down the central hallway, look up, and see blue sky…”

“For many decades to come, scientists and engineers of all kinds will come to this facility to invent the future through imaging, discovering, disrupting and realizing solutions to some of the greatest challenges our country has ever faced.”

A few photos from the ceremony:


EAW Discussions: Mary Ann Lazarus on Resilient Design

  • October 15, 2018
  • Author: Danielle Larrabee

Drawing from her experience in driving sustainability within an international design firm and across the architectural profession, Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, has a deep understanding of how to work with firms who are at the early stages of sustainability, as well as those ready to go to the next level. She takes time to develop a clear understanding of each firm’s unique needs and leadership opportunities in order to develop strategies that work.

Mary Ann will speak during 2018 Environmental Awareness Week in our St. Louis office. We sat down with her to ask a few questions in anticipation of her talk.

Can you provide a bit of background as to your role in driving sustainability at HOK over the years?
I worked at HOK since 1980 and I had the honor and privilege to be part of the group who was driving the “green movement” as it was called in the early ’90s. One of the defining moments was when the HOK Board adopted sustainability as one of their Core Values in ’91. There was a lot of work done within the firm by a grassroots group of self-identified, interested people to bring sustainability into our projects.

These same people then became involved with nation-wide initiatives such as the development of LEED and the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE). HOK also published the first edition of their “HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design” in 2000. I moved from project leadership roles to the role of firm-wide Sustainability Leader in 2001. I then a co-authored the second edition of the “HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design” in 2005.

What will your presentation focus on for CannonDesign’s Environmental Awareness Week given that your audience will be architects and engineers who make design decisions every day?
My title is “Gimme Shelter: Resilient Design in a Transformative Era.” It’s about the role design professionals have within the topic of resilient design. The opportunity is so vast and I’ll talk about how we can improve resiliency at different scales and plan for a very different and unknown future. There is an urgent need and we as designers can address many of these challenges.

What is your background on resilient design?
My background is based on 12 years at the local and national scale. I first became involved in resilience after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. I worked with a group of U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) leaders to address the devastation to address how to build back differently in a way that would be more adaptable and resilient over time. We worked hard to pull together a two-day charrette at Greenbuild that year, which included green building experts and residents of the affected area. We focused on the strategies and opportunities that could come from this devastation. Out of that charrette came several publications and new relationships especially with the Resilient Design Institute that formed a few years later.

Since then, I have continued working on implementing and promoting resilient design. Three years ago, I co-chaired a task group developing pilot credits for resilience in the LEED rating system. I now sit on the “RELi” Steering Committee which is a rating system for resilience with the USGBC. So, there has been a need for this work and it has really taken hold in the past few years.

What was most challenging and most rewarding during your time as a Resident Fellow of the AIA?
I was brought in as part of the AIA’s repositioning effort after the recession in 2008. I was tapped as a business expert to help the AIA identify its role in sustainability efforts. Aftermarket research and interviews and working with an advisory group, I presented findings to the Board which stated that sustainability is essential to the future of our practice and architects need to be leading the conversation. It is something where design professionals are uniquely positioned to help our clients and communities. Out of that report, the AIA launched a series of four initiatives that have since involved volunteer groups, staff positions and many other resources to help architects promote sustainable outcomes. The four initiatives were Materials, Energy, Resilience, and Design & Health. They are integrated now in the AIA activities and continue to evolve and grow. Since my time as Resident Fellow, I became a member of the AIA COTE Advisory Group and chaired that group in 2017.

As an adjunct professor at Washington University in St. Louis, what are you seeing with students today and how they are reacting challenges we face with climate change?
My first observation is that no one is denying climate change. It could be self-selecting because you would be hard-pressed to find climate change deniers in my classes. What’s exciting about the student body I have been exposed to is that it is a very international group. So, there’s great discussion about the challenges in everyone’s home city, such as Shanghai and Beijing, but also in Newark, NJ. In addition to the traditional student body, I’m also working with non-traditional students such as people who are usually of an older demographic (25-60). They have varied and interesting life experiences that they bring to the discussion.

What do you like to do in your free time?
My husband and I travel a lot. I enjoy visiting new places; we’re going to Peru shortly after this talk. My children are spread across the country in great places to be. I enjoy gardening and am trying to get native plants to work in my garden. I also enjoy various forms of exercise; my favorites are biking and walking.

EAW Discussions: Eric Corey Freed on Zero-Carbon Design

  • October 15, 2018
  • Author: Danielle Larrabee

Eric Corey Freed, RA, LEED Fellow, is principal of organicARCHITECT, a licensed architect (California, New Mexico, Arizona), and a recognized pioneer in the tradition of Organic Architecture, first developed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Promoting both an organic and ecological approach to design, Eric wishes to provide an alternative to what he calls the “harsh, style-driven fashions” that are so popular in architecture today.

Eric will speak during 2018 Environmental Awareness Week in our Pittsburgh office. We sat down with him to ask a few questions in anticipation of his talk.

Can you provide a brief overview of your presentation?
It’s a strange time to be alive. Our world is changing rapidly and we know if we continue in this way, we are doomed. That’s never happened before in human history! It’s an even weirder time being an architect, engineer or contractor knowing we’re largely responsible for this impact. So, the talk I’m going to give will look at the past 24 months and the things going on outside of the construction industry that affects us. Whoever thought the State of New York would sue Exxon? Whoever thought the Catholic Church and the World Bank would divest billions of dollars from the oil and gas industry? It’s an incredible time to be alive and there’s a lot of good news on the horizon that’s pointing all of us in the right direction. And we in the building industry need to pay attention to these larger trends going on around us.

As an architect, founder of your firm, organicArchitect, and now a Sustainability Disruptor at Morrison Hershfield, can you explain your approach to sustainable design to deliver the biggest impact?
Early on after starting my firm I discovered I was only impacting the five to 10 projects a year that we had. Over the last 20 years, I’ve looked for ways to increase that impact. So, in 2001, I started speaking, writing, teaching and consulting to reach more people and have more impact. The reason I became VP at Living Future Institute was to reach more people and have more impact, the reason I became Chief Community Officer at EcoDistricts was to reach more people and have more impact and now why I’m working with this wonderful, large engineering firm, Morrison Hershfield, is to do the same thing.

I now work with this army incredible building scientists who can take regular projects and make them net zero energy. We’re also working on deep energy retrofits for existing buildings; we’re helping municipalities craft energy policies. It is a little bittersweet because I am still a designer at heart and love to come up with the perfect floor plan or elevation, but as the urgency as climate change has grown, I realized that was a luxury I couldn’t afford. I had to focus on the things I could impact and effect.

As an educator, what are some interesting trends you are seeing with the student body today?
This generation is quite incredible. I think growing up knowing there are a lot of problems we’re dumping on them has prepared them for the future. What I do know is that the traditional model of the architecture practice is out of date. They are much more open to alternative methods of practice like collaboration with other firms or other people – leveraging the power of the group rather than the individual ego. I think you will see less of the “starchitect” model and more of the collaborative studio model.

How can individuals in a large firm like CannonDesign improve what they might be doing currently to design and build more sustainably?
That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? I think there are many things people can do within a large firm to improve what you are already doing. On a firm-level, CannonDesign can come up with some standards that can be used on every project such as setting a minimum Energy Usage Intensity (EUI) or committing to stop using a specific list of toxic chemicals in all your buildings. On an individual level, there’s a lot a PM could do to minimize impact. They could have conversations with their clients about how much they are spending on parking lots, air conditioning, electricity, etc. and come up with better, more cost-effective and more sustainable solutions. In the past, sustainable design was presented as the “odd alternative” and the result was a heavily-consuming, wasteful, toxic building. Every single CannonDesign employee can flip that script and say, “the default is a green, high-performance building.” That’s not to say it’s easy, but that’s where it starts.

The idea of “organic architecture” stemmed from Frank Lloyd Wright’s building philosophy and it seems you have many of the same principles in your work. How have his ideas from almost 150 years ago influenced you?
I would argue that Mr. Wright was the first green architect before we even had that term. If you look at his buildings, every single one is passive solar in design, uses natural materials and has passive ventilation and cooling strategies. That’s not to say he was perfect, but he was the first one to show how these principles could inform design in a very beautiful way. For me, it was very appealing to see this natural, romantic, poetic approach to architecture – that really resonated with me first and foremost as a kid when I saw my first Frank Lloyd Wright building at age 10.

As I learned more about him, as I studied his work and as I started communicating with his former apprentices at 16 and working for them at 18, what I realized was he truly was the first sustainable architect. He was able to blend nature and the man-made in a way that was profound. If he were alive today, I’d like to think that he’d be doing cutting edge things with parametric technology, designing every building as net-zero and seamlessly integrating solar panels into his beautiful rooflines. I feel duty-bound to continue that tradition.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I have a 10-year-old daughter and a (40-something-year-old) wife, so first and foremost I love spending time with them. Even more so, we are trying to raise our daughter to be a warrior because when she’s our age, the world is going to be a very different place; we’re trying to prepare her in a way that is hopefully fulfilling and fun. After that, I have a lot of little hobby obsessions. I’m obsessed with technology, especially its impact on the construction industry – looking into how we can use robots, 3D printing, CNC milling, GPS, drones, AI, autonomous vehicles…all of these are going to affect our industry in a profound way.

EAW Discussions: Jeff Goodell on Rising Sea Levels

  • October 12, 2018
  • Author: Danielle Larrabee

Jeff Goodell is an author and contributing editor to Rolling Stone magazine. Steeped in years of meticulous research, Goodell’s latest book, “The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Reshaping of the Civilized World,” is a sobering, immersive look at the impact of our rapidly changing planet on our cities.

As sea-level rise becomes an urgent priority for many of the world’s coastal cities, Goodell’s vital perspective reveals what urban planners, builders and policy experts can do to combat environmental disaster—and the scope of what is at stake. Considering the impact of global sea rise on long-term design and engineering, Goodell’s work is indispensable and relevant.

Jeff will speak during 2018 Environmental Awareness Week in our Buffalo office. We sat down with him to ask a few questions in anticipation of his talk.

On your web bio, you have this quote: “The greatest danger we face is not technological hubris, but human apathy.” Can you elaborate on this? What in your findings drove you to this conclusion?
We are all now faced with the challenges of climate change, but for the most part, we know how to combat it. It doesn’t require inventing gamma ray guns to fight alien invaders – we have all the technology we need. We know how to create forms of energy that produce zero carbon dioxide and we also know how to deal with rising seas and wildfires. We just need the political will and awareness to implement what we already know.

What do you plan to focus on in your presentation for Environmental Awareness Week?
I want to focus on the impacts of climate change and argue not only that it’s real, but that it is happening now. To put it as a theater analogy, when the curtain goes up and the production begins, the director says, “you’re in the river now.” Whatever comes along, you must deal with it. We’re in the river now with climate change. It’s happening faster than a lot of us understand and we must prepare for those changes.

We also can’t do things the way we did before because our world is changing so quickly. We must take this awareness of our changed world into account when we build buildings and infrastructure or else they will be hugely at risk. It’s about embracing the future in an intelligent way.

What was the most striking thing you discovered in your research and reporting your new book?
The most striking thing was the scale of the risk we face. The idea of the book started the day after Hurricane Sandy; I was thinking about the implications of nine feet of water flooding lower Manhattan. A scientist said to me you should think about this event as a dress rehearsal for sea-level rise. Imagine that nine feet of water coming in and never going out. And then he suggested to also think about that idea in other major coastal areas like Miami.

So, I went down to Miami and saw how the water was already coming up several feet into some low-level areas of the city. Thinking about the future, with even modest predictions of sea level rise, the threat to cities like Miami and other coastal places around the world is immense. If they are going to survive, coastal cities like Miami will have to be entirely re-imagined and rebuilt in the coming decades. Politically, economically, and culturally, that is a huge undertaking.

What has been the most interesting interview that you have done?
Going to Alaska to interview President Obama was very memorable and remarkable. What was most interesting to me about speaking with him was the depth of his knowledge and awareness about what’s going on.

I was not an Obama “groupie” – I wrote quite critically on some of his policies especially in his first term and I was prepared to have a debate with him. We ended up spending two hours talking and he didn’t know any of the questions I was going to ask him ahead of time.

It was remarkable to hear the president talk about the real implications the world faces from climate change. I have a pretty good b.s. detector for people who just read briefing notes about climate change, but President Obama really understood what was going on. It was a surreal event and very memorable for me.

Are any good developments you have seen to combat climate change?
Even after writing my latest book about sea level rise, I have a lot of optimism. We are in a moment of change and if we have the opportunity to bring creative solutions to these new challenges. Especially in the design profession, I think it’s an exciting time. Even though these changes come with a lot of devastation and loss, there’s also going to be a lot of creativity and new-age thinking in the way we live. The more of this model we embrace, the better off we will be.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
With the free time I have, I enjoy everything outdoors. Scuba diving, hiking, skiing, bike riding, etc. I also spend all the time I can hanging out with my three kids. It’s their future, after all, that I’m writing about when I write about climate change.



CannonDesign’s First Annual Community Service Day

  • September 5, 2018
  • Author: Danielle Larrabee

Recently, our employees took a day to address immediate needs in their communities by volunteering for over 30 nonprofit organizations all over the country for CannonDesign’s first annual Community Service Day. Amazing stories of hard work and giving back came from many of our offices and a round-up of those stories are below.

Baltimore Office


This is the Baltimore Office’s third year of hosting a high school student at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. This time, we thought it would be a great opportunity for all of us to take a trip to Cristo Rey for the Community Service Day. The seventeen of us split into two teams: one team repainting corridor walls and stairwell railings while the other team groomed their front outdoor area and lovely courtyard space. The outcome was mutually impactful as the Baltimore office had a fun day of service and community collaboration off-site, while Cristo Rey Jesuit High School was pleased with their new spaces just in time for the 2018 academic school year.

Boston OfficeA large group from the Boston office took part in the cleanup of The Fenway Victory Gardens for an upcoming community event. Victory Gardens are the oldest continuously operating WWII community gardens in the United States, providing respite and joy to a vibrant and diverse inner-city community. We labored hard on what had turned out to be the hottest day of the summer, fulfilling two important and glamorous tasks: turning and moving compost heaps and picking up Canadain geese poop.

Buffalo OfficeThe Buffalo office volunteers split up into teams at three different, very deserving organizations. A group met up with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy for a clean-up and beautification effort at their Martin Luther King, Jr. Park on the city’s East Side. We dug right into weeding, mulching and tree-planting in the morning. On the other side of the city (Buffalo’s West Side), another group gathered to help PUSH Buffalo (People United For Sustainable Housing) canvas the neighborhood to inform residents of a new community solar initiative. This initiative could potentially provide the underserved neighborhood with clean, solar energy at a reduced cost. We walked door-to-door, knocked on them all, talked to people, asked for signatures and also left flyers. Over on the East Side, the final team helped clean and refresh the Seneca Street Community Development Corporation‘s building. The organization serves an at-risk population in the city and provides after-school programs for children and teens. We went right to work cleaning the kitchen, weeding the playground, overhauling the community garden, staining the ADA ramp, refinishing the floors in the gym and much more.

Chicago OfficeThe Chicago office team got a tour of Rebuilding Exchange’s vast warehouse and workshop spaces and learned about the organization’s mission and history of diverting construction waste from landfills by creating a market for reclaimed building materials. Some of the group helped create cutting boards, cheese boards, coasters, and other crafts that will be sold to raise money for the organization at Chicago’s Renegade Art Fair. The remainder of the group helped with organization and inventory in the warehouse. A group of us also volunteered at Emily Oaks Nature Center. We all got dirty, sweaty and chatty during the three-hour weeding and planting time. This is what we call team building! Many of us gained new skills and some perfected the old, but we all had fun and we were extremely excited to be part of this gardening venture. At least 30 new plants will welcome the visitors at the Emily Oaks Nature Center next spring. The Leukemia Research Foundation (LRF) funds worldwide medical research, offers patient financial assistance and support programs for those affected by leukemia and other blood cancers. LRF is made up of many chapters (mostly in the Chicago area) that host various fundraising events throughout the year. We helped the organization by rebranding their social media outlets to provide a consistent strategy across all platforms and be more recognizable. We provided various templates that they can implement for future posts about upcoming events, as well as highlighting researchers and doctors affiliated with the cause.

Dallas OfficeThe SPCA of Texas is an organization that the Dallas office is passionate about supporting. This year, we are thrilled that we not only get to support them at their annual “Bark and Build” competition happening later this year, but we got to spend the morning learning and volunteering at their shelter.

Denver OfficeThe Denver office has a wonderful day helping the goats, chickens, horses, cattle, ducks, sheep, donkey and one very stubborn pig at the Urban Farm. The Urban Farm is an organization that started by providing opportunities for underprivileged youth to gain experience helping care for horses and learning to ride. The organization has expanded to offer exposure to all types of farm animals, to learn about how animals provide us with food and to participate in 4H activities through an affiliation with CSU (Colorado State University). The day started with a tour of the farm, including the hydroponics lab, a Japanese style greenhouse with evaporative cooling, and all the animal pens. Our group painted two chicken houses, fixed and relocated a fence so the lone pig could have their own space, watered all the animals, and repaired a broken playhouse door. The day was very fulfilling and we had an amazing time together!

Houston OfficeEvery year, Houston Food Bank distributes over 122 million nutritious meals through its network of 1,500 community partners in southeast Texas, feeding 800,000 individuals. This past Friday morning, the Houston Office took time to give back to this amazing organization.

Los Angeles OfficeThe Los Angeles offices volunteered at the LA Food Bank, an organization that provides meal kits and other essentials to children, seniors and other individuals in need throughout the County of Los Angeles. Community support enables the Food Bank to serve more than 300,000 people on a monthly basis. We gathered to successfully assemble over 1,792 meal kits that will be distributed to local food banks in the area.

New York City OfficeThe NYC office headed to Queens Community House (QCH) to pack more than 60 donated backpacks with essential school supply items for K-5 students. The QCH is a multi-site, multi-service settlement house that serves diverse neighborhoods throughout the borough. In addition to packing backpacks, volunteers toured the QCH Forest Hills location and learned about the many services offered to residents. Thank you to all who donated backpacks and school supplies as well as time spent organizing, transporting, and packing the items!

Pittsburgh OfficeThe Pittsburgh office volunteered our services to the Pittsburgh Food Bank. We repackaged and labeled bags of Special K cereal that were donated. Our group of 13 people worked on 6,000 pounds of cereal (15 pallets).

San Diego/Irvine OfficesWe combined San Diego and Irvine offices to serve Orange County Rescue Mission in Tustin, SoCal. Our mission was to sort moer than 10 giant crates of toys, books and costumes into age-specific crates for their events. Quote from the Mission: “We are so appreciative that your team sorted through the toys for us! The toys will be used at our annual Christmas event called ‘Magic at the Mission.’ During this special event, our parents get to ‘shop’ among those toys for presents for their kiddos. Having the toys sorted ahead of time allows us to prepare for a successful event in December.”

San Francisco OfficeOur team worked with two other organizations at the San Francisco Food Bank, where we boxed up 1,008 boxes of non-perishable, government-funded food for elderly residents on fixed incomes within the San Francisco region. Without volunteers, the organization would not be able to maintain the operating budget and provide as much as they do. Visit the food bank’s website for additional information about their influence on our community.

St. Louis OfficeThe Habitat for Humanity ReStore is dedicated to reusing and repurposing donated goods and diverting items from landfills in order to lessen our impact on the environment and ultimately help further the local home-building efforts of Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis. Our team showed off our wide range of skills, from dusting, sweeping and organizing, to deconstructing a sofa! We did so well that we were asked to clean up brush piles from the parking lot. Gateway Greening is a community of gardeners, farmers, neighbors, friends, and volunteers building deeply rooted, resilient urban communities throughout St. Louis. Our team powered through rain and mud to put our gardening skills to use by planting, weeding, mulching, and other landscape maintenance. Youth In Need is a non-profit organization that provides residential group homes, homeless street outreach, early childhood education, infant, child and family development, youth and family counseling and support groups, teen parent services and foster care case management for children of all ages and their families. Our team provided breakfast, spent the morning doing dishes and interacting with the youth by playing games (Pictionary) and watching movies (“Guardians of the Galaxy”). We then got a chance to tour the facility and learn all about the great services that Youth In Need had to offer.

Toronto OfficeToronto team members supported the Christie Refugee Welcome Centre that has been providing emergency shelter and a warm welcome for refugee families from all ethnic, racial or religious backgrounds for more than two decades. Approximately 300 homeless refugee claimants (100 families) from war-torn countries worldwide arrive at the centre each year. The centre needed assistance filling knapsacks with school supplies and additional help in fundraising to purchase new items. In the three weeks leading up to the Community Service Day, we held a daily breakfast buffet in the office to raise funds to purchase knapsacks and supplies. It was a team effort, with some cooking special treats – breakfast sandwiches and crepes – others contributing items for the buffet – cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt and, of course, purchasing from the buffet regularly. We were able to raise more than $250 and arrived at the centre with our knapsacks and supplies in tow and spent the morning filling them up with age/grade appropriate items. It was a very fulfilling experience assisting this active centre and making a difference in our community.

Washington, DC OfficeIn the DC office, we partnered with The Clothesline for Arlington Kids to help create a first-of-its-kind retail environment for K-12 students in the Arlington, VA affordable housing system. In order to open before the new school year, we volunteered to get the store ready. The team performed tasks including painting the front door and railings, hanging lights and mirrors, designing and hanging pegboard accessory displays, designing and hanging curtain rods and accessories for the changing rooms, and sorting donated clothing for display.

Architecture + Education Program Celebrates End to Another Successful Year

  • January 12, 2018
  • Author: Danielle Larrabee

Luke Visiting a Buffalo Public School classroom as part of the Arch+Ed program.

Luke Visiting a Buffalo public school classroom as part of the Arch+Ed program.

CannonDesigners Luke Johnson and Cheri Weatherston have been hard at work this past year as the Buffalo Architecture Foundation’s Architecture + Education (Arch+Ed) Program Co-Chairs. Other CannonDesign volunteer architects this year were Nate Heckman and Harrison Walsh.

With more than 225 students and five Buffalo public schools involved in this unique program, everyone is looking forward to celebrating when all of the students’ work is displayed at the CEPA Gallery in downtown Buffalo on January 19.

The decade-old, award-winning Arch+Ed program was founded to increase awareness and involvement in the built and natural environment and to use architecture as a multidisciplinary form of active learning. Running biennially, the program uses architecture to teach students math, science, history, art, and technology aligned with the Common Core, while raising awareness and appreciation of the built environment. (

Local practicing professionals and architecture students are paired with Buffalo public school teachers for a fully comprehensive, 8-10 week collaboration where lesson plans are formed and carried out. The culmination of the student’s work is celebrated and displayed at the CEPA Gallery for everyone to enjoy.

A photo by Luke from the 2015 Arch+Ed Symposium where the architect/teacher teams met and developed lesson plans to implement in their classrooms over 8-10 weeks.

A photo from the 2015 Arch+Ed Symposium where the architect/teacher teams met and developed lesson plans to implement in their classrooms over 8-10 weeks.

Over the past 10 years, the program has been involved with 25 schools, 115 architects, and 115 classes, and over 3,500 students.



Our co-Chairs and the Arch+Ed program have garnered extremely positive local coverage. A few of these interviews and articles can be found below.

WBFO 88.7Architects lending their talents to teach city school students
“It’s a way in which we help build awareness of the built environment and also showcase architecture as a learning vehicle for a whole slew of disciplines”

Buffalo Rising#LittleArchitects’ Gallery Opening: Buffalo Architecture Foundation’s Architecture+Education
“If kids thought about architecture the same way that they thought about cooking, then we would certainly have a brighter future ahead when it comes to inventive and forward-thinking building designs.”

Buffalo NewsBuffalo Schools make push to build career and vocational programs
“Not only did that get some of her students more interested in learning science, some even started thinking about their futures.”

UBNowArchitects in the Making
“The award-winning program introduces BPS students to the discipline in a fun, hands-on way.”







Buffalo Engineers Celebrate Oishei Children’s Hospital Opening Through Volunteerism

  • November 13, 2017
  • Author: Danielle Larrabee

Last Friday, over a dozen Buffalo office employees and their spouses volunteered at Oishei Children’s Hospital for Move Day. The vast majority of our volunteers were project team members who worked on various aspects of the building. CannonDesign was the engineer of record and provided cost estimating, MEP and telecommunications engineering in addition to lighting design services for the project.

Local news outlets reported the move was an overwhelming success.

Moving day for Children’s Hospital goes off without a hitch – The Buffalo News

Patient by patient, Oishei Children’s Hospital comes online – Buffalo Business First

The main lobby entrance at Oishei Children’s Hospital

As the engineers of record on the Oishei Children’s Hospital, the team capitalized on its new location in the downtown medical campus and location to Buffalo General Hospital and sought innovative solutions to share mechanical systems and services to keep costs low and avoid duplication. The team tapped into the existing central plant for electrical, emergency generator backup, chilled water for cooling, and steam boilers for heating. They also were able to incorporate the existing loading dock and main kitchen at Buffalo General by including an interconnecting tunnel under Ellicott Street and a two-level bridge. By sharing these systems and services, the team not only reduced costs, but also increased the available square footage of the building footprint.

You could feel in the team meetings that we were all part of a larger purpose. We all rallied behind the shared goal of making this new hospital for the women and children of Buffalo a great success.

Raymond Schultz

We were proud to be part of the 700-person volunteer team to ensure a smooth transition for patients and families. Beginning at 5am and ending at 9:30pm, each CannonDesign team covered a five-hour shift. We were assigned to the food service area, which provided all of the food and beverages for volunteers, families and staff for Move Day. Many of us found our niche at the coffee station, which, to no one’s surprise, was very busy for a hospital.

Thanks to everyone who made a difference that day!

Jeremy Clement, Michael Walker, Peter McClive, Raymond Schultz, Robert Garra, Michael Dlugosz, Angelo Tasca, Joe Cohen, Chip Berry

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What’s Black and White and Designed All Over?

  • February 27, 2017
  • Author: Danielle Larrabee

AON Penguin Exhibit Rendering

Members of the CannonDesign team recently attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the new penguin habitat at the Aquarium of Niagara. Project manager Frank Sica was also featured extensively on Buffalo morning news programs, providing insight into some of the more technical aspects of the project. You can watch Frank’s interviews on WGRZ and WKBW.

Located at the heart of the city of Niagara Falls and a steady part of the local tourism industry, the aquarium’s long-term goal is to achieve certification from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The certification will allow them to join an elite group of 20 institutions in North America who can exchange assets and participate in breeding transfers.

Beginning as a component of a larger visioning exercise for strategic investments at the facility, the new penguin habitat design was developed as the first major project at the aquarium in half a century. The team worked through several unconventional design and technical challenges as we imagined a new home for the penguins.

AON Axon DiagramThe key to getting the project off the ground was developing marketing material to help fundraise the required $3.3 million. Now that the funding goal has been met, we are excited to see the project come to fruition and watch the little tuxedoed clients enjoy their new home.

With this new penguin habitat, the aquarium will be able to attract more members of the community, support and expand the local economy, and share the important story of conservationism and animal education.