ASID HQ , Washington D.C.
ASID HQ , Washington D.C.
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Image credit: Eric Laignel
The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) understands that design plays a fundamental role in impacting human health and well-being. Their corporate headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. achieved WELL Certification at the Platinum level in September 2017, showcasing how the intersection of design, performance and HR policies can positively impact the human experience.
“We’re proud to share all aspects of this journey with the design community and the world at large,” explains ASID CEO Randy Fiser, Hon. FASID. “The overall design of this space was driven by the research and data collected during pre-occupancy, and its success is demonstrated through the post-occupancy data. ASID is committed to sharing updated evaluations as we continue to enhance our employee experience and improve workplace utilization.”
In addition to WELL, ASID achieved Platinum Level Certification under the LEED ID+C rating system, the first project in the world to achieve Platinum Certification from both WELL and LEED. The ASID HQ serves as a living laboratory for the design community and the workplace of ASID national staff.
AT A GLANCE:
The 8,500 square foot (790 m2) office space, designed by Perkins+Will, occupies the northwest corner of the 9th floor of a 12-story building located in a walkable neighborhood with many amenities and accessibility to various public transportation options in downtown Washington, D.C.
Windows surround the perimeter, with north-facing views looking over the historic Metropolitan AME Church on M Street, N.W., and west-facing views offering an open vista towards 16th Street, N.W.
Some 1,000 square feet (93 m2) of space was allocated to house the Material ConneXion Library of healthy, sustainable and innovative materials. Take an interactive virtual tour of ASID HQ.
Why did you decide to pursue WELL Certification?
Our primary goal for our HQ was to create a space that supports the health and well-being of employees, which in turn would improve the organization’s productivity, engagement and retention. We conceived the design challenge first then worked with architecture and design firm Perkins+Will to devise the design solution during a collaborative visioning session (Feature 85: Integrative Design, Part 1. Stakeholder Charrette).
How does WELL align with the mission or values of your organization?
Achieving WELL Platinum Certification fits the Society’s role as a champion for good design and its demonstration that design impacts lives. Its goal is to showcase the many ways design can positively affect the health and well-being of employees while boosting resource efficiency. ASID believes in research-based results in design and placed an emphasis on third-party validation of the space. The office space now serves as a living laboratory for the design community.
How did your team approach the WELL Certification process and work together to achieve your WELL goals?
ASID and the Perkins+Will design team established clear goals and objectives for the project during the Stakeholder Charrette and collaborated with experts and consultants from various fields (e.g., lighting, biophilia, acoustics, etc.) related to the project. Additionally, two WELL APs were on the project team and guided the WELL Certification process.
Once the project began construction, WELL goals and protocols were a standing topic during weekly meetings to ensure that the entire design and construction team was aware of the project goals. ASID team members were also brought through the space at several key points during construction to educate them on the process. Pre-testing was also conducted to ensure project goals were met and to prepare for performance verification
Intent: To promote exposure to daylight and views of varying distances by limiting the distance workstations can be from a window or atrium.
All individual and collaborative work areas have access to nature and/or a window. The open environment and visual transparency in the main work area allow everyone to enjoy access to daylight wherever they are in the office.
Intent: To reduce sedentary behavior by making active workstations readily available to occupants.
Per the requirements of Part 2, all individual workstations enable employees to change between seated and standing postures for work with adjustable height workstations.
Intent: To nurture the innate human-nature connection within the project.
The entrance corridor creates a sense of mystery with its meandering path into the office, alongside a biomorphic pattern extracted from dragonfly wings placed as a glass film. Of the fourteen Patterns of Biophilic Design by Terrapin Bright Green, twelve are implemented throughout the office providing a variety of opportunities to connect with nature.
What are the most innovative or stand-out aspects of your WELL project?
The ASID HQ office is a dynamic space that responds to the interior and exterior environmental conditions and to occupants using the space. For example, ASID HQ displays temperature, relative humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, and ozone (O3) levels in real-time (Feature 18. Air Quality Monitoring and Feedback). Depending on the number of occupants in the space, their movement, activities, and other environmental conditions, the CO2 levels fluctuate throughout the day and communicate with the HVAC system to determine ventilation (Feature 1: Air Quality Standards, Feature 3. Ventilation Effectiveness).
Another example of automation relates to light. Lighting sensors placed around the office detect potential glare and sync with the shading system (Feature 56. Solar Glare Control, Feature 60. Automated Shading and Dimming Controls), and work with the circadian lighting program set for the office (Feature 54. Circadian Lighting Design).
What challenges did you face as you were incorporating WELL features? How did you solve them?
As a tenant in a multi-unit building, ASID HQ encountered some challenges during the WELL Certification process. However, the Society was lucky in that building owner, Carr Properties, was very accommodating and able to work with ASID to overcome many of these challenges. For example, the Society was able to meet all of the Water features by working with Carr on filtration and purification for the public restrooms and water fountains on the 9th floor, which are located outside of the ASID HQ suite. Achieving Feature 82: Individual Thermal Control was also challenging because ASID does not control the building’s central HVAC system and sometimes experiences temperature fluctuations. It has been a process of educating the building engineers about the Society’s needs to ensure that it consistently achieved the standards.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
In collaboration with research partners, ASID is conducting ongoing research that goes beyond the typical post-occupancy surveys on environmental satisfaction (Feature 86. Post-Occupancy Surveys) to further investigate how the office impacts employee health and wellness, engagement, retention and productivity. As a living laboratory, ASID continues to conduct periodic studies of its HQ and collect research findings to identify and implement strategies for continuous improvement.
What positive impacts resulted from your WELL Certification? What post-certification metrics can you share related to outcomes?
Overall, indoor environmental quality improved after moving into the WELL Certified ASID HQ office. For example, sound levels were lower (average of 10dB lower, or 50 percent sound reduction), and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were decreased by 58 percent. Occupants’ satisfaction scores for all environmental conditions surveyed showed a statistically significant increase when comparing pre-certification (Year 1) and post-certification (Year 2) results. Satisfaction scores have sustained after two years of occupying the new ASID HQ office (Year 3).
The WELL Certified ASID HQ office stimulates collaboration among employees (average of a nine percent increase in interactive and collaborative work) with spaces to support this type of work. ASID saw increases in several productivity measures related to the impact of design on productivity.
Absenteeism scores (ranging from -1 to 1), measured by how much employees are working more than expected by their employer, improved by 19 percent. This moves the previous negative score (-0.025: employees worked 2.5 percent less than expected) to the positive range. Presenteeism (ranging from zero to 100) has also improved, indicating that on average, employees feel they are working at 90 percent of their possible job performance, which is a 16 percent increase to what was reported in the previous office.
What did you learn from WELL? What post-certification metrics can you share related to outcomes?
ASID employees attended seminars and training sessions on how certain office design features, such as ergonomics and circadian lighting, impact health and wellness. From an internal survey conducted about a year after these sessions, on average, 93 percent of employees agreed that they knew how the office design related to health and well-being (e.g. “I know how the ASID HQ office positively impacts health and well-being.”)
How has WELL Certification changed or improved your company culture or operations?
Place attachment scores in the WELL Certified ASID HQ office improved 69 percent when compared to the previous co-working space ASID had occupied. During focus groups conducted at the co-working office, ASID consistently heard from employees that they didn’t feel a sense of ownership or pride in their workplace due to it being a co-working space. These temporary conditions led to low scores on place attachment; however, these scores improved significantly after the move to the new ASID HQ office.
A study conducted by Cornell University using socio-metric badges and a survey found that ASID employees’ satisfaction in several environmental conditions such as lighting quality, noise reduction, speech privacy, available space, visual privacy, and ease of interaction contribute to place attachment. Particularly, the significant effects between ease of interaction and place attachment suggest that workplace design plays a role in shaping a social environment that engages employees in the office.
Learn more about the ASID HQ post-occupancy results and their ongoing research into the impact of design.
- Architecture and design firm: Perkins+Will (two WELL APs on the project team)
- Project Manager: Savills Studley
- Real Estate Broker: Savills Studley
- Building owner/developer: Carr Properties
- General Contractor: Rand* Construction (WELL AP on staff)
- MEP Engineer: GHT Limited
- Acoustical Consultants: Cerami
- Lighting Consultants: Benya Burnett
- Biophilia Consultants: Terrapin Bright Green
- Commissioning Agent: Bios