Minnesota Sustainable Building Guidelines: Improving Human Experience on Campus


by Anna Pravinata, AIA, LEED AP, NOMA and Justin Wilwerding, MA, CID, IDEC With contributions from Amanda Aspenson, AIA, CID, LEED AP and Abimbola Asojo, PhD, AIA, IDEC, LEED AP, NOMA, NCIDQ The idea of having a sustainable society gained momentum on the first Earth Day in 1970, just over fifty years ago. But as with any important social movement, it has not remained an abstract or static idea. In the intervening decades, sustainability has evolved, generating a vital force, especially within the architecture profession. Minnesota’s commitment to sustainable buildings began in 1976 with the inception of the first Minnesota Energy Code. Twenty-five years later, in 2001, two events advanced the ongoing effort to make Minnesota one of the nation’s sustainability leaders. First, the Center for Sustainable Building Research (CSBR) was organized within the University of Minnesota College of Design, focused on the development of new knowledge on sustainable design…

The Business Value of People-Centered Design

by Nina Ebbighausen, AIA, LEED AP  “In an era where change is a currency, business as usual stopped being good enough.” – Jonathan Ive, Chief Design Officer of Apple It’s no longer news that design-led innovation can stimulate business growth, transform public services, and enhance places and cities. In a 2013 study, the Design Council in the UK reported that, for every $1 invested in design, companies can expect to see $20 in additional revenues and $4 in additional profit, through design-led innovation and increasing brand value.1 What’s most important to remember in this equation is that, to reap the greatest benefits, design must be people-centered and it must have a deeper function than just looks – though how something looks matters quite a lot too. Its benefit is greatest when it is intimately related to solving problems, especially customers’ and communities’ problems. People-centered design can benefit every aspect of…

One Foot in the Past, One in the Future

A centerpiece of the New Deal of the 1930s was the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The rich legacy of CCC buildings continues to have a powerful impact on the visitor experience in our state and national parks by contributing to a sense of place and forging connections. CCC-era structures are linked to our extensive park system across the entire country rather than merely to individual parks. While each structure is unique based on its setting, materials, and function, the harmonious blending of structure and setting is consistent throughout the system. In many cases these structures appear to grow out of their surroundings due to their materials being native to the area where the building is located. For example, wood components like framing, siding, trim boards, flooring, paneling, doors, shingles, and shakes were frequently produced using sawmills that were brought on-site. Native stone was often quarried nearby. How…

Working Together Apart: Moments That Matter

What happens when you build something, and nobody comes? In this final episode with user experience designers, Sangam Napit from US Bank shares how he engages clients to mitigate failure and the importance of designing from a human-centered approach.https://youtu.be/eJcvp5HuD_0

The Drive-In Revival

by Brad Githens, Design Professional As with so many different types of businesses, the restaurant has been highly impacted from COVID-19. But rest assured, it will survive and evolve into something even greater. Conceptually, within the restaurant business if they want to be successful or even survive, they must adapt. It is necessary to make very quick decisions that will affect everything from the way the restaurant is run to the economic viability of certain foods. As some may know, the restaurant business is run by very tenacious and creative people. The restaurant community is an extremely passionate group of people with a work ethic like no other profession. It is built on hard work, patience, and pride. This is a business model without a high profit margin and has many moving variables – market costs, overhead costs, food and beverage pricing, leases, taxes, etc. In order to survive, restaurants…

Adventures in Nature – Reinforcing our Fundamental Needs

by Paul Anderson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C and Evan Hall, AIA COVID-19 has Twin Citians seeking nature more than ever. Being cooped up at home has placed us in front of computer screens, phones, and TV to a point where nature is the only remedy to this new extreme of cabin fever. Visiting parks are a great way to enjoy the outside, explore new places, and be in nature in a fundamentally human way. We spoke with Sandy Breuer, the Parks Director for Washington County, to hear some of her thoughts on parks during this time. Here is what she had to say: We have more people in the parks – especially when we were in the Governor’s Stay-at-Home Order, parks were one of the only places people could go. Being outdoors is simply a way to get back to nature and experience the health benefits of outdoor recreation during…

Higher Education Lab Classes Respond to COVID-19

by Anna Pravinata, Mamie Harvey, Kristen Salkas, Justin Wilwerding, Teddy Gustafson This is the second article in a series intended to study the impact of COVID-19 on learning that typically requires in-person, on-site interactions. The first article “Teaching Design Studios during COVID-19” dealt with design studio courses, including architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design. University education in engineering, manufacturing, and applied technologies typically involves experiments and collaborations conducted in the physical world. Students must handle materials and manipulate equipment. Teamwork is required to operate technologically advanced equipment and manage large lab projects. So how can such topics be taught during a pandemic? When instruction shifts online or classroom experiments must allow for social distancing, how should pedagogy in engineering and related fields change to remain effective? To understand how college and university faculty have responded to the pandemic and are planning for the fall term and beyond, Alliiance staff interviewed…

Working Together Apart: Ideation and Innovation

How do we lead creative, dispersed teams to promote innovation? In this episode of Inspired Design Ahti Hujanen, Chief Technology Officer of Glympse, shares their user experience design process and how they push innovation and build successful teams.https://youtu.be/y6kkZ10P4VU

Campus Culture and Student Engagement: Impacts From The Pandemic

With all of the concern around social distancing and online learning, how is campus culture and student engagement being impacted? Gain a deeper understanding of the issue in this conversation between Alliiance’s Ken Sheehan, AIA, LEED AP and Dr. Ryan Langemeier, PhD, AIA, Dean of Academic Affairs at Riverland Community College, as he shares insights into challenges and opportunities within the pandemic as part of Alliiance’s Inspired Design series.https://youtu.be/asLaR8TbVCE

Teaching Design Studios During COVID-19

by Anna Pravinata, AIA, LEED AP and Justin Wilwerding, MA, CID, IDEC The tsunami of change wrought by COVID-19 has required colleges and universities to rapidly pivot to sustain the education process. In particular, design studio courses, such as architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design, are historically problem-based, collaborative, and hands-on courses. These courses foster creativity through interactions between students and the spontaneous collision of ideas. Student interactions are facilitated through group sketching exercises; the development of physical models; using material samples and physical objects; and visiting project sites. These are critical elements of a design curriculum that are needed to ensure student success. Design education often uses online learning platforms, but nothing could have prepared design faculty to deliver concepts about how people use space, without using any real spaces. To understand how design faculty creatively redesigned their design studio courses to address the pandemic, we interviewed six design…

Research Labs Begin Phased Reopening


Anna Pravinata, AIA, LEED AP and Mamie Harvey, AIA, LEED AP BD+C share guidelines to reconfigure lab space to maintain social distancing in the most recent Tradeline article. Read the full article https://bit.ly/38cD2i5

The Restaurant of the Near Future

by Bruce “Albi” Albinson, LEED AP Recently my wife and I ventured out for dinner to one of our favorite local restaurants. We wanted to shake the Covid craziness out of our systems and see what the current landscape looked like. Being designers, we were curious to see just what was taking place in this new Post-Covid (PC) world. Knowing the new protocol is to make reservations due to the smaller occupancy numbers, we went online and did so. Later that day, as we pulled up to the restaurant, we noticed the parking lot was clearly divided into areas for those dining in, and those ordering and picking up takeout. They had installed a Pick-Up door and window for this part of their business. Located off to the side of the window an exterior menu showcased all their dishes available for takeout, so you can become prepared while you waited….

Working Together Apart: Collaborating and Innovating

Can we successfully collaborate while working dispersed? Absolutely. Learn key aspects to effectively collaborate to drive innovation in this conversation between Alliiance’s Inspired Design host, Rochelle Maresh, CID, LEED AP, and Brian Rowe, Human Centered Design Integrator, as he shares tools and processes on how he has been working with dispersed teams for years.https://youtu.be/JUJeu_ez3OQ

A Safe Return to the Research Lab

Considerations for Re-opening Laboratories by Anna Pravinata, AIA, LEED AP and Mamie Harvey, AIA, LEED AP BD+C The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for laboratory environments. Labs were shut down within a matter of days to comply with the “stay-at-home” order. The University of Minnesota recently developed the Sunrise Plan to assist university employees in determining if they qualify to work on site, what steps are required to achieve permission, and what requirements must be met if employees are working on campus. Under this plan researchers, whose work requires physical presence to advance research goals, or grant requirements, would be able to work on site. As we look forward to the re-opening of labs post COVID-19, we have developed several considerations that may guide the creation of a safe and healthy lab environment. These considerations are meant as a starting point in supporting organizations in re-opening their laboratories. 1….

COVID-19 – Opportunity for Innovation

by Deb GiL, CID, IIDA, WELL AP, LEED AP ID+C and Rochelle Maresh, CID, LEED AP Regarding our ability to affect change, Steve Jobs said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”While current events are causing significant challenges, they are also providing many opportunities for how we reimagine work and life. At this moment, we have the opportunity to rethink how we work and connect, to reevaluate work/life balance, to catch-up with tasks that have been pushed aside, and/or to spend more time getting closer to loved ones. For others, it is a time to discover what they are most passionate about. This could include identifying where there is a gap or need, revisiting a business strategy or creating a new startup business. By seeing a need during the last recession, these startups are now common household names: Uber,…

What’s the Buzz About Field-Based Research Lab Design?

High-impact research requires world-class facilities. The University of Minnesota Bee and Pollinator Research Laboratory is a flexible and collaborative field-based research environment that supports critical discoveries on pollinators’ health. Historically referred to as the “farm campus,” the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus is made up of low buildings with sloped roofs and silo-shaped structures which dot the research fields in informal and farmyard-like groupings. The Bee and Pollinator Research Laboratory welcomes people as they enter the north end of campus and its design embraces the campus’ heritage in a way that reflects a modern attitude towards science and agriculture. The 10,500-square-foot facility houses offices, labs, a commercial honey extraction room, and hive spaces where researchers closely observe the behavior of individual bees. Recent declines in funding for higher education have necessitated diligent planning to achieve higher space utilization. Like the hexagonal shape of honeycombs, the state-of-the-art academic research facility…