In an article on Fast Company’s Co.Exist website posted in November, the author describes the efforts of his design firm, Gensler, to create skyscrapers that are not simply designed with sustainability in mind, but moreover with human engagement and well-being at the heart of their design.
He references a building that PNC Financial Services has commissioned:
The people at PNC Financial Services Group clearly, adamantly want a building that drives performance, with all the bells, whistles, and energy efficiency that will entail. But the game-changer here is that they (and particularly Gary Saulson, PNC’s executive vice president and director of corporate real estate and a longtime advocate of sustainability) interpret “performance” differently than others. . . Performance includes a building’s ability to make employees comfortable and happy and ultimately, hopefully, more productive. (Bold added)
I’m thrilled that some enlightened business folks are catching onto the fact that well-being is integral to performance. My question is, when will we begin to consider the well-being of children at the heart of design when we create or retrofit schools?
Entrepreneurs and other interests in education continually promote the notion that we must foster creativity and innovation in public schools. I question whether such lofty goals can be adequately pursued in environments that are all too often “outmoded” at best, and toxic at worst.
Maybe it’s time, as the author does in the article, that we adults imagined the ideal experience of what it might mean to be in a positive learning and working environment, and then designed accordingly:
Picture yourself sitting on a park bench with your laptop in your lap, shoes kicked off, and a breeze coming across your face. This is your workplace.