CannonDesign Named Outstanding Organization of 2019 by Healthcare Design

  • July 15, 2019

Kristin Ledet Speaks with Houston Business Journal

  • July 1, 2019
  • Publication: Houston Business Journal

Modern Healthcare Recognizes CannonDesign as Leading Health Design Firm

  • May 31, 2019
  • Publication: Modern Healthcare

An Update on UTMB League City Expansion Project

  • May 20, 2019
  • Author: PJ Glasco

We are proudly working with the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) League City on the strategic expansion of their medical campus. This is a destination where UTMB offers leading-edge health care services and experiences to patients, families and staff.

As part of the expansion project, our team is helping UTMB add five stories to its South Tower, to boost patient bed count to nearly 100, and also introduce more operating and endoscopy rooms, a larger Post Care Anesthesia Unit (PACU), and an expanded emergency department across the campus. The South Tower project is tracking toward welcoming its first patient in May 2020.

One of the most exciting aspects of this project is working with UTMB’s team, a group that is at the forefront of the industry and is pushing to deliver the best possible solution to serve its community. Recently, Leonard Lacomb, a principal facilities manager for UTMB design and construction and one of our main client contacts for the project, was profiled in UTMB’s Day in the Life series. Our entire team was invited by Leonard and his team to participate in the photo shoot and so I’m sharing images of our team collaborating and walking the project site throughout this post.

“The new tower includes a dining area, an expanded pharmacy and lab, along with staff facilities and more,” LaComb explained in the piece. “The final touch is a grand concourse that will begin at the new skybridge and run more than 300 feet to the new tower and elevator lobby. The concourse has been designed to spotlight the League City area and its surrounding communities, and the great history of UTMB, highlighting our goals, values and attention to caring for our patients.”

It is truly exciting to work with Leonard and his team on this project, and we’re excited to see the South Tower become a reality. It will ensure UTMB League City continues to deliver world-class care to its community for generations.

Healthcare Design Features PJ Glasco in Face Time Series

  • May 15, 2019
  • Publication: Healthcare Design

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. The panel 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.

Demystifying the Translational Workplace: Six Strategies for Open Innovation and Knowledge Transfer

  • April 23, 2019
  • Author: Abigail Clary and Chris Lambert

The 21st century has seen remarkable healthcare breakthroughs. These advances are largely driven by the speed at which organizations can translate scientific discoveries to applications that benefit patients and communities. Whereas this process has traditionally been slow and cumbersome, today’s organizations are rethinking their business models and environments to ensure they support each other and generate faster and better outcomes.

But simply putting researchers and clinicians in the same building with hopes that serendipitous collaborations will ensue will often not yield the outcomes organizations seek. Based on our experience, we have found that success often depends on building an open innovation ecosystem — a living lab that integrates concurrent research and innovation processes with patient care. This takes traditional translational health science environments to new levels by making them more permeable and better capitalizing on inter- and intra-disciplinary approaches within and outside of the organization. These ecosystems are not only optimized to support health and research collaborations but partnerships with academia, foundations, pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms, start-ups and more.

Gates Vascular Institute and UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute

You can imagine the different flows of knowledge and communication that occur in such a complex environment made up of different people, approaches and goals. Although the ways people capture knowledge and convert it to answers will always be complex and varied, we have developed six key strategies established through precedent and research that create consistent interaction and knowledge exchange within these new translational environments.

  • Focus on proximity. Research shows the average frequency of person-to-person interaction drops by half when separated from 15 to 50 feet, and half again from 50 to 150 feet. All to say, the importance of physical proximity cannot be understated when it comes to sharing knowledge and speeding up complex processes. Although housing everyone on the same floor is always ideal, if it’s not possible, visual and physical connections such as open stairs between floors can play a big role in enhancing proximity. As an example, at the Novartis-Penn Center for Advanced Cellular Therapies (CACT) in Philadelphia — an environment focused on groundbreaking research that enables a patient’s own immune cells to be reprogrammed in the lab and re-infused to hunt and destroy tumors — locating scientists and technicians on the same floor and within close proximity to the greater University of Pennsylvania campus helped reduce the time it takes to create “hunter cells” for patients by 50 percent.

The CACT (located in the South Tower, highlighted) is completely interconnected to the larger immunotherapy program at Penn Medicine and enveloped by the greater university campus

  • Find inspiration in urban life. If you look at the city or community you live in, you’re likely drawn to certain places for specific purposes. You go to parks for fresh air, bars and restaurants to unwind, museums to experience culture, etc. These destinations draw people out of the comfort of their homes to interact with the world around them. This same mindset can make a big difference when trying to encourage researchers and clinicians to leave their comfort zone to interact with others. So rather than looking at the environment as a workplace, we look at it as if it were a micro city with connections (pathways and circulation routes), culture and destinations (atriums, collaboration areas, outdoor spaces), neighborhoods (hubs housing specific types of research), and services (shared technology areas, cafes, coffee zones). This approach turns workplaces into micro-cities that naturally bring disparate people together and bring greater awareness into an organization. Read more on this strategy, here.

  • Employ a Kit of Parts. In translational settings, we always advocate for providing numerous options calibrated to different types of workstyles and preferences. We have found that employing a kit of parts — typically a collection of modular spaces supporting various types of work — provides the flexibility needed to maximize the productivity of collaboration and “heads down” time. It also fosters an open innovation platform through its ability to provide space for visiting teams, outside alliances or internal novel partnerships. The modularity of these parts allows for change; configurations can shift regularly to provide the varied experiences that keep innovation and creativity fresh.

Example kit of parts

  • Use the workplace as a living laboratory. The scientific process is driven by experimentation. This same mindset should be applied to translational areas. Although we always conduct in-depth research on human behavior and space utilization before designing a workplace, sometimes the needs of occupants change, or they don’t translate to the work environment as originally planned. But if the work environment is designed as a living laboratory intended to continually change, that’s OK! Once the space is open, we can gather data in several ways— for example, employing sensors to track actual activity and observing occupants using the space — to learn more about what’s working and what might need to be changed.

Actual workplace utilization analysis

  • Design for lingering. Whereas creating shared spaces is important in uniting individuals and teams, the success of these spaces often depends on the interactions that unfold within them. To increase interactions, we leverage utilization data to predict what spaces (and what characteristics of spaces) might lend themselves to lingering. For instance, our data suggests that enclosed collaborative spaces can be anywhere from 3x-10x more intensively utilized than open collaborative areas — depending on the organization. This data can help us better understand why people prefer lingering in these enclosed spaces and how we can prompt similar utilization in other areas throughout the workplace.

Rice University’s New Emerging Science & Technology (NEST) Center includes collaboration portals located across its floorplan designed for spontaneous interaction and defined by bright green, writeable glass panels

  • Encourage collaboration, but keep a keen eye on distraction. Many workplaces today function as distraction factories, and according to a University of California, Irvine study, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after you’ve been distracted. In workplaces for translational health science, open collaborative environments without opportunities to “escape” are guaranteed to lead to distraction. Our kit of parts concept also provides variety in the configuration of the workplace to enable individuals to work in areas that best support the type of work they’re focused on during any given day.

Although the research unfolding in translational health science facilities is complex, designing workplaces that foster the type of knowledge transfer so critical to their success doesn’t need to be. By understanding what it takes to design environments that prompt authentic collaboration, purposeful integration, open innovation, and create a healthy, happy and productive work experience, we can create workplaces precisely calibrated to translate ideas and research into tomorrow’s healthcare breakthroughs.

CannonDesign Leads Talks on Future Scientific Workplaces, Sustainable Design at Laboratory Design Conference

  • 04/30/2019 - 05/01/2019
  • Presenter(s): Toni Loiacano, Steven Copenhagen, Punit Jain

Earth Day 2019: What Will We Do In the Next 11 Years?

  • April 22, 2019
  • Author: Mike Cavanaugh

It has been 49 years since our first Earth Day in 1970.

Forty-nine years is quite a run. The passion and awareness ignited during those inaugural events in 1970 have driven significant positive change in our relationship with the natural environment. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and many will undoubtedly hoist up that number proudly.

This year, however, let’s focus on a different number: 11.

According to a report released in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we must halve our emissions by 2030 to avoid a future defined by catastrophic climate change. That deadline is just 11 years away.

CannonDesign knows we must bring critical focus in this short span of time. Nearly ten years ago we signed onto the AIA 2030 commitment. In it, we pledged that all new buildings, developments, and major renovations we design will be carbon neutral – requiring no fossil fuel or GHG-emitting energy for operations. Instead, we’d rely on clean energy to power our built environment.

We knew then this would be a massive challenge, but one worth striving toward. Like many decades-long plans, when our commitment was signed we had the benefit of time. Today, we do not – but we do now have a few resources almost as valuable.

Deeper Knowledge

Our firm and industry have made great strides in advocating for low carbon building solutions. In doing so, we’ve educated ourselves, learning how to best monitor our progress and promote our most important and innovative ideas.

Proven Innovation

Ten years ago, building energy use was quantifiable by a small percentage of engineers and an even smaller percentage of architects. Technology was available but was not widely used or known.

Today, thanks to our industry’s continued leadership through the American Institute of Architects, Architecture 2030, and with help from incredible partners in the software community, we have sophisticated tools that are both accessible and integrated into our workflows.


We are fast approaching the year 2030. While we have had many successes, the transition to carbon neutrality needs to accelerate significantly. Time is not on our side, but we can use that reality to motivate us.

Of course, Earth Day, environmental awareness, and sustainability are about more than just building energy consumption. We must also think about how we’ll take action related to embodied carbon, material health, and resilience among other issues key to the building industry. While more generally, plastic pollution, air/water quality, and forest protection loom larger than ever. There are many ways we can individually recognize Earth Day 2019.

Our planet faces rapid, perilous and unprecedented threats from climate change. It has become the greatest challenge of our time. We have what it takes to meet this challenge, but we will need courage, commitment and sincere urgency to help us achieve our 2030 goals.

Time may not be on our side. But, Earth Day is a chance to look around and recognize the millions of people who do stand with us. Around the world, companies, institutions, cities, states, and nations are stepping up their commitments and demanding better. We are lucky to work with some of these organizations as they clear paths for others to follow.

We all have an impact on this planet and therefore a chance to ensure that is a positive one. This is our hope, inspiration, and potential – that together we can honor the vision of those who launched Earth Day 49 years ago, and preserve this planet as we know it for the generations to follow.

Three Key Takeaways from Bisnow National Healthcare South Conference

  • March 28, 2019
  • Author: Kristin Ledet PJ Glasco and Donna Coussons

Our team recently had the opportunity to attend Bisnow’s 2019 National Healthcare South conference in late February. The event united a remarkable group of healthcare leaders from Houston and across Texas to share thoughts about what’s next for patients, providers, health systems and communities.

There were numerous thought-provoking presentations our team was able to attend, and we’ve summarized some key takeaways from the event below. For each takeaway, we connect ideas around how design will play a role in supporting its impact in the future.

Health Systems Recognize Consumers Pay for Value, Not Medical Events
A dominant trend echoed multiple times during the Bisnow Summit is the impact consumerism is having on healthcare nationwide. Whereas patients may have simply headed to their nearest care facility in the past, today’s healthcare consumers are savvier, more engaged and more empowered than ever before. They evaluate options online, they read real-time reviews of surgeons and systems, they seek transparency, value, convenience and memorable experiences for every dollar they spend on their healthcare.  New entrants like CVS, with their MinuteClinic Model, and Amazon only amplify competition in healthcare and put more pressure on health systems to respond to growing consumerism.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways design can help health providers bolster their experiential offerings and lure today’s consumers. Possible design responses include:

University of Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center

  • Consider Modular Design: One thing we know about consumer preferences is they can change rapidly, and health systems that can adapt to these changes quickly can enhance competitive positioning. Modular design, which employs modular “parts” that can be inserted and reconfigured as needed, can help health systems achieve this level of adaptability. In addition to increased adaptability, health systems leveraging modular design also can achieve substantial costs savings, accelerated speed-to-market and revenue capture, reduced risk and predictable final outcomes.
  • Amplify Wellness Opportunities: Wellness is important to many of today’s consumers in new ways. Empowered to track their every step and deeply educated about what influences their mental health, today’s health consumers are drawn to spaces that embrace natural daylight, nature and other stimulants for positive wellness experiences. As one example from our recent portfolio, UC San Diego Health’s Jacobs Medical Center eliminates 90-degree turns to ensure more natural movement while also integrating extensive exterior gardens and terraces for patients, their families and staff.

Considering and deploying some of these strategies will help health systems leverage design to further appeal to today’s savvy health consumers.

Invest in Technology that Ensures Patient Safety
Patient safety is paramount for health systems, and the Bisnow event touched on exciting new technology investments that enhance our collective ability to ensure it. Just as consumers are now able to track their health and wellness in new ways, providers can use technology to track new data: stress levels of surgeons in the OR, breaks in sterility, quantity and impact of distractions. Armed with this data, providers can then develop strategies to further decrease hospital-acquired infections, limit distractions, help surgeons stay calm at all times and more.

Design already plays an integral role in existing patient safety strategies. As new technologies and data become available, design firms can help health systems properly locate these devices to ensure they themselves don’t become distracting. Furthermore, design responses will be key to helping health systems deliver solutions based on the new data they’ve achieved. Distractions, hospital-acquired infections, etc. – design can be a powerful tool in fighting these concerns. Now, enhanced data collection will help us leverage it impactful new ways.

Everybody’s Focused on Telehealth
Extensive conversation at the National Healthcare South conference focused on telehealth and its ability to help healthcare providers communicate with patients while expanding convenience and access while reducing costs for patients. Recent investment in faster internet connections, digital communications tech (ex: smartphones and iPads) and improved insurance reimbursement are fueling key growth for telehealth across the country. Our team recently wrote a tactical report all about telehealth and associated reimbursement strategies.

Telehealth communication most often falls within one of four categories: Live Video, Store-and-Forward, Remote Patient Monitoring and Mobile Health. Each type of healthcare requires an electronic means of communication, compliant security, and, in some cases, remote devices. Several companies have emerged in each area to accommodate the services, and today some healthcare providers have integrated well enough to offer all of them in one place. As states further define their reimbursement policies and technology and infrastructure investments grow, telehealth popularity will become ever more useful to health systems.

From a design perspective, shifts toward telehealth translate to potential impacts on daily and annual in-person patient throughput. This can free up existing space for new service or staff wellness opportunities. Moreover, these new technologies require equipment planning and change management strategies to ensure they are located and used properly.

Bisnow’s 2019 National Healthcare South conference proved an exciting event ripe with dynamic speakers and inspiring ideas for the future. We were thrilled to attend, and excited about how design can play a key role in advancing our collective health and wellness in the decades and generations ahead.