In this column, Healthcare Design asks design professionals to share a recent project their firm has completed for another sector that might inspire similar solutions in healthcare. Here, SOM’s Anthony Treu and Scott Habjan discuss how upping the amenity offerings for a financial services client is driving new ideas for clinical staff and patients settings.

More commercial clients are seeking vibrant workplaces that transcend traditional models and offer users a more varied experience. Amenities once seen as luxuries are now viewed as more vital resources for recruitment and retention. An example is a project for a confidential financial services client in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The SOM team designed the facility interiors with a diversity of environments to support a range of individual work styles and group interactions. In addition, a collection of amenity spaces, including a game room, library, coffee tastings, and a demo kitchen, break from expected corporate character to create a sense of authenticity connected to place and interests beyond “work”.

Applying this concept to healthcare can breathe new life into a typology that generally suffers from being extremely disconnected from the outside world. While a healthcare setting can be the place for a wonderful experience (the birth of a child), it’s most often experienced as an “other” place where people feel anxiety and a loss of control. Infusing healthcare facilities, including clinical workplaces and patient settings, with more of the “every day,” familiar amenities from the “real world” can fundamentally alter the staff and visitor experience and break away from institutional stereotype.

We’re currently discussing some very exciting ideas with our healthcare clients, from demo kitchens where cancer patients can learn how to prepare and enjoy healthy meals to spas, yoga studios, and fitness centers. Healthcare leadership is increasingly considering embedding unexpected programs that further their mission of wellness.

Anthony Treu is healthcare practice leader, and Scott Habjan is senior designer for health and science at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (New York).

Interested in sharing a Design Inspiration with Healthcare Design? Email Executive Editor Anne DiNardo at for submission guidelines.