Archive for June, 2016

Jun

16

When Social Media Shifts Your Perspective: or, How I Became a Social Media Convert

By Mary Chow, Community Recreation Sector Leader

I’ve seen the influence of social media; the power to connect to a world larger than immediate family members, friends and acquaintances. Last year I saw my 13 year olds Instagram account reach over 800 followers within months. At the time, his entire elementary school didn’t even have 500 students. So how could he know 800 people?

I’ve seen a change in expectations from our community and recreation clients; that our projects meet the needs of the entire community, not just of a limited demographic. I’ve seen social media help us achieve this  – we’ve even changed building programs and designs because of it.

I can’t see it stopping there. Facebook has 1.2 billion active users, and Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Youtube are all major players in brand outreach. As we continue to leverage social media to connect with community members, it’s made me wonder: what’s next?

When writing about the biggest social media trends for 2016, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes forecasted that social video would become ever more prevalent and that we would begin to see more 360 video. And he’s right. Video has become ubiquitous. I know because I now click on more videos in my newsfeed than I do articles.

For architecture, a photograph is a still image capturing one moment in time. Video, on the other hand, can weave a story through movement through spaces. Video in architecture has already permeated social media through fly-throughs, professionally-filmed promotional videos, and interviews with building users, but we still haven’t fully tapped the potential of the medium.

So I put the challenge out to my media savvy son (the one with the over 800 Instagram followers who has since abandoned Instagram to build his YouTube following). I brought him to our recently completed City Centre Community Centre in Richmond, BC and asked him to make a video of what he felt the facility was all about. I didn’t give him much more instruction then that. The result is a showcase from the perspective of one individual. It’s a work in progress.

To continue the experiment I recruited Riley, one of our recreation sector team members to create a separate video interpretation of the same facility. I wondered how different individuals from different age brackets, backgrounds and experiences would perceive the same spaces. The two videos tell a different story even though the spaces are the same.

The results are striking because the possibilities are so evident. A few hours of work and a story is told. Architects love the stark, pristine nature of their work but our community buildings are all about the people and how they inhabit and use the space. What better way of showcasing our projects?

I imagine that pretty soon we’ll all be making videos all the time. But as with every craft, it will always be about the quality of the spaces and the storyteller that will set us apart.

Looking for more posts like this? Check out HDR’s blog, BLiNK, written by employees at HDR. Our bloggers represent offices from around the world and write about topics of importance to the architecture and design profession.

Jun

2

The ‘Care’ in Healthcare: A Human Perspective On the Spaces We Design

By Jennifer Beggs, Intern Architect

On a daily basis, HDR’s architects and engineers model buildings on their computers, calculate fire ratings, design signage, measure travel distances, coordinate ceiling heights, and so much more. We think about buildings in terms of their setbacks, height requirements, structure, and compliance to laws. Specifically in healthcare design, we strive to shorten a nurse’s travel time, provide efficiency in department layouts, and add windows to patient rooms, for example.

Have you ever considered that these buildings may be the last spaces that a person sees?

In mid-April, I attended the Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) conference in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Most of the attendees were nurses, doctors, care providers, and personal support workers who work alongside dying patients. As peculiar as it may sound for an intern architect to attend a conference on palliative care, I gained a unique perspective on the types of events that go on within the spaces that we work on every day.

Dying is not fundamentally a medical event; it’s a social event that happens within a family and a community. The journey that a person goes through at the end of his or her life often involves friends, family members, and medical staff. From listening to stories and experiences shared by those who work with the dying every day at this conference, it became apparent to me that what people value the most near the end of life is to be with people who will listen to them, who will read to them, and who will talk with them. That’s because they are facing the terrifying reality that they will soon take their last breath. They begin to grieve the loss of what they will never achieve and face the reality of the goals that they will never accomplish.

Above all else, they merely want to feel comfortable during their last days. Often the hospital or hospice facility will be the last place they will ever visit before they close their eyes for the final time. What do they see? How does the space make them feel? What are they surrounded by?

“Where we die is a key part in how we die”(Allison Killing, architect and urban designer). Of course, most people prefer to die at home, but this often isn’t suitable for medical reasons. So they are brought to a place that has unfamiliar views, materials, sounds, and people—the  spaces that HDR works on every day.

Hospital walls witness some of life’s greatest joys, as well as deep sadness. Hospitals are where many take their first breath, and others take their last. So many life-changing events take place within the walls that our architects and engineers design. Consequently, architecture plays a fundamental role in the process of dying.

The dying are still living. When people do not have much left to give to their life, they tend to soak in as much as they can in the time they have left. This often happens in healthcare facilities, which is why our work at HDR is so important.

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower” (Alexander Den Heijer, author).

Looking for more posts like this? Check out HDR’s blog, BLiNK, written by employees at HDR. Our bloggers represent offices from around the world and write about topics of importance to the architecture and design profession.