These are exciting times to be an architect, designer, facility planner and industry partner such as a manufacturer, supplier or contractor. For the past decade, there has been an earnest, research-based approach to better understand the connection between our environments, their planning and design, and the human within. With this, we also better define the true end-user and communities our buildings serve. Leading evidence-based research studies, compelling peer reports, post occupancy statistics, and unequivocal staff and end-user testimonials are deeply informing our designs, leading to measurable positive outcomes. Thus today, we better understand that space, inclusive of every component within it, cannot be separated from the humans for which it serves. Even more so, we know both operational aspects and aesthetic design elements can be leveraged to work in tandem to promote human wellbeing and safety. At the same time, these design doctrines are reducing waste and safeguarding operational and administration costs. Proudly, many of us in the planning and design industry have been instrumental in this transformation, particularly with institutional space design that either demotes or promotes their occupants within. Many now understand the power of design that is curated from a tightly dovetailed knowledgeable team working towards defined, human-centered goals and the importance of championing these “good design” principals through each step of implementation.
Even more compelling, many industry professionals are promoting these evidence-based design philosophies overseas and into less mainstream United States markets like corrections, behavioral healthcare and facilities that house the underserved. For these often overlooked populations, insightful industry professionals understand their specialized needs and the critical issues these rigorous spaces face. They also understand the critical economic and societal struggles these industries undertake as rapidly shifting governmental polices further shake their foundations – a footing which is already bending under mounting strain. However, these same planning and design professionals are confident they can make a significant difference to promote safety and staff performance, while also safeguarding costs and the communities we all live in.