fixtures that meet WELL’s requirements simply
don’t exist yet, and customizing fixtures would have
been prohibitively expensive for the nonprofit organization. Burnett and Benya improvised by using
fluorescent lighting. “Overall, the lighting energy
reduction was not as great as it would have been if
we’d done all LED,” Cordell says. Still, he believes,
“as WELL rises in popularity, manufacturers will
respond with new products.” Automated window
shades adjust based on the position of the sun,
coordinating with the lighting to keep light where
it needs to be to meet the circadian lighting plan.
OTHER FEATURES BEAUTIFY the space, improve
the air, and provide that human-nature connection. Terrariums are located at the end of each
row of sit/stand desks, and Perkins+Will lined the
windows with planters brimming with a variety
of green plants, including, nearest the kitchen, an
herb garden with sweet basil, rosemary, curly parsley, and thyme that employees are welcome to use.
An enormous blown-up photograph of a water drop
hitting a body of water, creating ripples in the sur-
face, appears on the back walls of the three huddle
rooms behind the open work area, another bio-
And then there are all the elements that are
unseen. For instance, the air is triple-filtered—on top
of a standard air filter there is a charcoal filter (to
remove contaminants) and ultraviolet light (
antifungal, antibacterial). In the entry to the office, a screen
displays real-time readings for temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, and ozone.
FISER HOPES THE INFORMATION from the research
on the office will not only benefit its occupants, but
will also be useful to the profession as a whole. “We
want this to be a living laboratory,” he says. As part
of a post-occupancy evaluation, ASID will investigate the impact of the workplace innovations on
the staff. Does having a variety of workspaces and
unassigned seating have an effect on work behavior and performance? Stay tuned for answers to
In the meantime, staffers say the office is already
changing the way they go about their business.
DJ Johnson, IOM, CAE, vice president of membership for ASID, says the open workspace forces
him to consider where he parks himself in the morning, based on what he has to accomplish that day. He
says, “Do I choose closed space, where I can hide,
or an open space where an interruption might get
in the way of my flow?” He credits the setup with
also making him think twice about printing things
out because there’s no reserved desk for him to stash
paper. “It’s teaching me to be more efficient about
clutter, to be more virtual,” he says.
Susan Wiggins, senior strategic advisor for ASID,
feels that not having a dedicated desk has contributed positively to her health. “My typical snack was
always Jujubes in my bottom drawer,” she says. “I
don’t have a bottom drawer anymore.” These days
she’ll grab a carrot from the kitchen instead.
Jane Margolies is a New York-based journalist
and a frequent contributor to The New York Times.