Just over a year ago, our Perkins+Will DC office was awarded a new corporate project: the new Perkins+Will DC office. And in just seven days, approximately 90 employees will pack up and shift over a couple of blocks into an open studio targeting LEED Platinum.

As a part of the healthcare team, I side-stepped the pressure-filled duty of having to impress and please my colleagues with the new design. Instead, I became an end-user, being moved towards a new working culture because of a new built environment.

I have designed administrative spaces within healthcare systems and clinics where, as a member of the design team, I stressed about the clutter clients clung to and their hesitancy towards more open workspaces with lower panel heights. And now, I found myself being told, for the good of collaboration and efficiency, I would need to give up the 12 photos of my nieces and nephews, various gag gifts from colleagues throughout the years that cluttered my workstation and the pounds of product brochures, literature, articles, and year-old magazines that I hoarded, just in case there existed one sentence or image within the stacks that would answer a question or provide inspiration.

Over the months leading up to the move, through continuous gentle persuasion from the design team and management, I have surrendered most of the chotskies, photographs, and literature. And all for the better.

Being on the end-user side of a design project has been a highly valuable experience and will render the design solutions I employ for healthcare design projects more effective. I have spent just over a year of what you might say is a designer’s equivalent of learning bedside manner through experience for doctors. Our new office has a great design team providing positive reasoning for making a cultural shift as they balanced the economy, the schedule, and space limitations. They continuously provided updates through presentations, an internal blog devoted to the design and build out, tours at various stages, and solid reasoning that supported their design decisions.

On the eve of the move, a wave of excitement is sweeping the office, albeit with some hesitancy as the bins, boxes, and hand trucks arrive. Needless to say, there will be a great deal to go through in the next couple of weeks as we adjust and settle. However, in the end, our DC design family will live in an environment we work so hard to achieve for our clients: healthy, sustainable, and based on rational thought, (and of course with an aesthetic of excellence).