On February 26th, GBA joined Designer Aaron Kulik and President Eric Booth of Desmone Architects for a tour of their recently completed office space as they pursue WELL Gold certification. The tour was co-hosted with the American Society of Interior Designers Pennsylvania West Chapter.
“It’s not just about the space, it’s about the policy,” says Booth. “WELL is human-focused, based in science, and concerns best practices in relation to humans.”
The building features elements of biophilic design to enhance human health, such as plants, thoughtful placement of windows, and inclusion of artwork, sculpture, and a few Baron Batch murals. These aesthetically compelling features directly promote occupant comfort and spatial familiarity, according to WELL.
Feature 37 of the WELL rating system focuses on the bedrock of a healthy lifestyle, proper hydration. In order to achieve this feature, Desmone installed water stations every 75 feet throughout their building. But WELL doesn’t stop there, another focus is placed on turbidity, addressed by Feature 30, which addresses water quality. To adhere to this feature, Desmone must routinely do quality control checks on the building’s water filtration system.
Photos: Ed Massery
Kulik explains, from a design perspective, that it’s come upon designers to say, “here’s what you can do better with your building,” and provide a level of consulting that allows clients to make the best possible decisions.
In terms of light, Desmone adhered to WELL standards by installing a circadian lighting system that minimizes disruption to the body’s circadian rhythm. The lighting system also enhances productivity, supports good sleep quality, and provides appropriate visual acuity. There were some challenges to this, and the team learned that people needed different levels of light for different tasks.
Photos: Ed Massery
“We set up task lights. We set up roller shades to mitigate solar glare. We set out control banks to facilitate greater human control over the building conditions. Establishing this sort of control requires balance,” Booth said. Back on the tour, one participant asked if Desmone had one guiding principle that WELL has helped them achieve. Kulik responded that while they chose to pursue WELL because of it holistic approach to buildings, their main focus was on air quality.
After construction, Desmone utilized a method of post-occupancy air flush, which uses a mechanical system to push air out of the building and reduce exposure to potentially harmful particulate matter that can result as a byproduct of construction.
As leaders of innovation across various projects throughout Pittsburgh, Desmone stands as a model for WELL that others can turn to in order to learn about the process undergone as well as recognize the ways in which various chosen interior elements do improve the quality of life, health, and happiness of its building occupants.