Future Perfect

Flexible design in various commercial environments continues to adapt for long-term use.

11.01.2017
By Louisa Fitzgerald

Florida Hospital for Women Milken Community Schools

As technology, culture, and the rules and regulations that govern industry rapidly change, designers must think beyond today’s purpose and create spaces that adapt to future use. Here, Lehrer Architects LA and Stantec, Inc., discuss how the need for future flexibility drove the design of their IIDA award-winning projects.

Florida Hospital for Women

Designed by Stantec

2016 IIDA Healthcare Interior Design Competition,
Best of Competition Winner

“There are a multitude of factors influencing healthcare today—evolving technology, diverse care practices, cultural shifts, growth, and even government regulations,” said Veronica Zurita, IIDA, senior interior designer at Stantec. “Maintaining flexibility when designing a healthcare facility allows a hospital to react to these factors without starting over.”

For Florida Hospital for Women in Orlando, Fla., flexibility in design meant being mindful that change in healthcare is inevitable. Case in point: While designing the  maternity unit, the team was careful to standardize elements in patient rooms, allowing them to be easily adapted if the unit is moved and the rooms must be used for a different type of care.

Designing for patients, patient advocates, and staff who perform a variety of functions also required flexibility, which is evident in the furniture selections for patient rooms. In these small spaces, each piece of furniture must serve multiple functions. For example, chairs and stools adjust and realign to allow staff and visitors space to work, mothers to nurse, and partners to sleep.

“At Florida Hospital for Women, our team built mockups of different areas, such as nurse charting stations and patient rooms,” Zurita said. “We had nurses, housekeeping, doctors, and administrators go through the mockups in real time to ensure the design functions for all groups.”

 milken community schools
 guerin family  institute and architecture + design institute

Designed by Lehrer Architects LA
Best of Competition, 2017 IIDA Interior Design Competition

Milken Community Schools in Los Angeles serves high school students with two distinct programs: the Advanced Sciences Institute, and the Architecture and Design Institute. To effectively teach highly specialized academics, the school needed facilities that went beyond traditional static classrooms, so Lehrer Architects LA created spaces that can expand and contract, are adaptable to new technology, and take advantage of Southern California’s weather.

“Our client wanted to be able to configure the classrooms in many ways so teachers could accommodate a larger lecture or smaller group discussion,” said Nerin Kadribegovic, IIDA, AIA, partner at Lehrer Architects LA. “The design also had to account for how new technology and lab equipment would be incorporated over time.”
Flexible wall partitions, a plug-and-play electrical system, and custom-made moveable furniture allow for quick changes to interior rooms, while hydraulic exterior glass walls open classrooms to the outside, providing more space, natural light, and indoor/outdoor learning experiences.

“So many of the school’s programs lend themselves to indoor/outdoor learning,” Kadribegovic said. “The robotics program has a 5,000-square-foot outdoor terrace that serves as a testing ground for robots. Art classes can take advantage of fresh air and natural light. Flexibility was key to success of this project.”

Florida Hospital for Women and Milken Community Schools Guerin Family Institute and Architecture + Design Institute were celebrated as winners of IIDA design competitions for their innovative and flexible approach to the built environment. IIDA hosts 12 or more competitions each year honoring excellence in global interior design. To learn more about opportunities for a firm’s work to be recognized, visit iida.org/competitions.