World Architecture Day – Wellness in Industrial Buildings

Today is World Architecture Day, a celebration held annually on the first Monday in October. Originally established in 1985 by the International Union of Architects (UIA) to honor humanity’s fundamental need for habitats and housing, this year’s theme is Architecture for Well Being. According to UIA’s website, the theme is in line with their designation of 2022 as the UIA Year of Design for Health and the Union’s commitment to using evidence-based design to promote health in buildings and cities.

At Ware Malcomb, we partner with our team members, clients, industry colleagues and local communities to create a more sustainable world. We strive to develop more sustainable business practices to create a healthier built environment for future generations. Our team of LEED®, WELL™ and Fitwel® certified professionals offers expertise in environmentally friendly design practices to meet project goals and local jurisdiction requirements.

  • LEED Design solutions utilizing sustainable design principles as followed by the USGBC or CGBC to pursue project LEED Certification.
  • WELL Building Standard focuses exclusively on optimizing occupant health, increasing employee productivity and improving quality of life in the built environment.
  • Fitwel certification aims to improve the health of a facility’s employees, visitors or residents as well as the surrounding community.

The Ware Malcomb portfolio includes a significant number of industrial projects and this sector has traditionally lagged compared to commercial and residential in considering wellness. Fitwel’s Center for Active Design recently published a report titled A Better Box. The report focuses on optimizing industrial spaces for employee health and wellness. According to the report, more than 9 million individuals work in logistics and according to a survey cited, 87% of respondents say they consider health and wellness when choosing an employer.

We work with industrial clients across the Americas to increase wellness and sustainability in their facilities. As one of more than 40 projects envisioned for Medline Industries Inc. over the years, our Oak Brook office completed the design of Medline’s customer service center in Dubuque, IA with a focus on wellness. As with all Medline projects we’ve completed, the 130,000 square foot Dubuque project is LEED certified. The project features a “town within a town” concept in which the design team implemented neighborhoods for a comfortable sense of scale. Active, interwoven interior landscaping, using materials and fixtures such as acoustical clouds and colored lighting, serve as beacons for each area. Breakout spaces are distributed throughout to serve as oases for those needing to unwind away from their desks.

Adjacent to the cafeteria is a light-filled corner city center with access to an outdoor patio, providing employees an opportunity to get outside and relax. Design with a connection to nature helps employees reduce stress, improve cognitive functioning and creativity, lower blood pressure and assist with mental fatigue, according to a report by Terrapin Bright Green on the 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design.

Additional features to enhance staff members’ well-being include a 5,200 square foot gym/multipurpose room featuring a full-size basketball court, and a 2,200 square foot state-of-the-art fitness center. To further encourage activity, the space includes a quarter mile track around the interior of the open office.

An industrial project developed by Ware Malcomb with a focus on wellness is the Martignetti Headquarters in Taunton, Massachusetts, halfway between Boston and Providence, RI. The unique location of the facility provides excellent access to both metropolitan areas, having two mass transit authority bus stops and ample freeway access for distribution around New England. The site’s many amenities include bike racks and a walking path that meanders through the 118-acre site, available to employees for outdoor recreation.

According to the A Better Box report, better transport connections give real estate owners a tool to attract, train and retain labor forces for logistics facilities. This LEED Silver Certified project for Martignetti incorporates the three major transportation factors listed in the report for site connectivity:

  • Facilitate Public Transit Access: Public transit access supports community connectivity and increases use of public transportation, contributing to increased active transit, physical activity and stress reduction.
  • Provide Bike Infrastructure: Bike infrastructure and secure bicycle parking improve safety and the employee’s overall travel experience. Such features also encourage cycling for transportation and recreation, contributing to increased physical activity, along with reduced congestion and air pollution.
  • Create a Pedestrian-Oriented Environment: A pedestrian-oriented environment, created through adequate wayfinding and lighting infrastructure, supports pedestrian navigation of the site and promotes safety by reducing conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians.

The persistent demand for new industrial buildings indicates these facilities will continue to employ a significant workforce. A dedicated focus on employee health and wellness will ensure that the industrial workforce is prioritized in the design of the built environment. For more information on our sustainability and wellness initiatives, please visit our website: