Articles Tagged with: Recognition

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Building Design + Construction (BD+C) profiled the NewYork-Presbyterian David H. Koch Center, which was recognized with a Building Team Award from BD+C this year.

Excerpted from Building Design + Construction:

This 17-story building encompasses three separate programs: The David H. Koch Center Ambulatory Care Center, Integrative Health, and the Alexandra Cohen Hospital for Women and Newborns that occupies the top six floors and is designed to support a future 230,000-sf overbuild.

The client’s vision was guided by six patient-centric and operational-efficient planning and design principles that emphasize quality and flexibility.

Three architectural firms collaborated on devising a unified concept that achieves the highest degree of patient experience. Doctors, nurses and staff were involved in the development of the facility, too. During the design phase, the team conducted a series of future technology work sessions, seeking opinions from clinical leaders, medical equipment research and development teams, and IT experts in order to anticipate future developments in healthcare technology, effectively designing flexible rooms that could be equipped with technology that didn’t exist yet. 

For example, a vertical zone of removable curtail wall panels, known as “the zipper,” enables new medical equipment to be hoisted into the building. The selective use of long structure spans in procedure areas maximizes floor plate efficiency by created large zones of unobstructed floor area and enabling floor-to-floor standardization.

One of the Building Team’s key objectives was the implementation of the Last Planner System, which began during the foundation and superstructure phase in 2015. This collaborative approach produced a detailed master plan whose result was the completion of the building ahead of schedule. 

The scheduling was abetted by a “Clean Sweep” approach that organized each floor into three zones, each of which was treated as an independent handover. As a result, punch-list items were completed in half the normal time. Task forces were formed specifically to resolve punch-list and Department of Health-related items.

Other discussions among the Building Team and experts helped to identify changes and accommodations that made this project work. These include:

• Shifting the location of caissons and installing added grade beams to maintain the structural integrity of five sub cellars.

• Locating the diagnostic imaging department to the 7th floor rather than the basement, partly for purposes of sustainability;

• Locating infusion and radiation oncology departments on the 4th floor with daylight and views. Moving the LINAC Vaults to that floor required coordination among multiple trades to sequence installation. The infusion spaces range from private to community areas and are designed for a variety of treatment types. The surfaces installed in these rooms—made from wood, stone, and natural materials—are meant to evoke comfort and ease.

The building’s curtain wall is one of its distinguishing features.

On the clinical floors, wood screen was inserted into the triple-glazed assembly, along with an undulating frit pattern, giving the curtain wall—the first of its kind at this scale—its rich character. Each of the curtain wall’s 18×18-ft panels was initially loaded onto floors, staged, and installed using an outrigger system. For purposes of trade efficiency, the team eventually switched to using one of the existing tower cranes, a decision that increased production by 37%.

This strategy enabled a visually distinctive and highly sustainable curtain wall that recesses at the 40-ft-high lobby level to give the building institutional gravity and transparency. The lobby looks onto an adjacent garden at Rockefeller University, and its open staircase inside leads to a mezzanine with food service, seating options, and connection to the Integrative Health program. Gathering areas were designed with a welcoming, hospitality-like ambiance. 

The exterior edge of each floor plate is reserved for circulation and open areas, which provide occupants with natural lighting and views, even during infusion or when in transit to operating areas. The clinical floors, organized with perimeter circulation, give patients and visitors the opportunity to experience the façade on a more personal scale.

A clinical floor typically includes a sky lobby, 12 procedure rooms, and 36 private prep and recovery rooms, whose proximity minimizes patient movement. Operating rooms are accessed through a light-filled corridor. The operating suites and interventional procedure rooms are equipped with the latest in advanced medical technology.

This is New York City’s first hospital to be certified LEED Gold. A green roof covers 30% of the roof area, helping to reduce the urban heat island effect and to slow stormwater runoff. The curtain wall system is designed to mitigate solar heat gain and ensure interior comfort. 

Critical building systems and infrastructure that are essential to maintaining building operations during an emergency were located to protect and isolate them from hazards. Back-up systems and redundancy are incorporated into the design so that the hospital can deliver uninterrupted care during a severe weather occurrence. 

The Koch Center also showcases a fully integrated art program that hosts a diverse collection that includes a vibrant mosaic-tile wall by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes that adorns the building’s patient drop-off area.

Planning Facilities for Telehealth

Ballinger Senior Principal Louis A. Meilink, Jr., FAIA, FACHA, ACHE contributed to the cover story of Health Facilities Management’s October issue. The article, “Planning Facilities for Telehealth,” describes considerations for designing healthcare environments that accommodate rapidly evolving technology. 

Excerpted from Health Facilities Management, a monthly publication of the American Hospital Association:

Remote provision of health care services — often referred to as telehealth or telemedicine — has grown in importance, especially with COVID-19-related restrictions on in-person interactions. 

“We know consumers want telemedicine,” says Louis A. Meilink Jr., FAIA, FACHA, ACHE, senior principal at Ballinger, a health care design firm in Philadelphia. “And from a space perspective, telemedicine can be anywhere, from primary and ambulatory care centers, cancer centers, emergency departments, patient rooms, and many other clinical and nonclinical spaces. Implementing telemedicine is a matter of having technology in the space where it’s needed and providing the supporting clinical care model, access and reimbursement structure.”

As Meilink notes, the range of telemedicine applications is broad. Remote clinical care encounters can include a physician with a patient in a hospital; a caregiver with a patient at home; a specialist with a patient and caregiver; caregivers meeting with each other; and remote monitoring of patients in a hospital or home care setting.

Consequently, the creation of effective telehealth spaces is today more important than ever, and telehealth should be considered early in the design phase of a new or renovated health care facility. That hasn’t always been the case, experts say.

“Telehealth is one of those things that has often been an afterthought,” says Bryan Arkwright, co-founder and chief research officer of Cromford Health, a digital health research and advisory firm. “But the facility issues are important. Those details can stop or slow a project.”

As a sign of this growing recognition, the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) Health Guidelines Revision Committee (HGRC) established minimum requirements for telemedicine spaces and offered additional recommendations supported by research and best practices in its 2018 Guidelines for Design and Construction documents for hospitals and outpatient facilities. 

Additionally, the brief telemedicine guidance provided in FGI’s 2018 Residential Guidelines has been expanded significantly for the 2022 edition.

Dedicated, integrated or mobile?

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) website, telehealth is different from telemedicine in that it refers to a broader scope of remote health care services than telemedicine. While telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, telehealth can refer to remote nonclinical services and electronic information sharing, AAFP states. In practice, however, the terms often are used interchangeably.

Perhaps the first design decision that has to be made is whether the system will include dedicated spaces for telehealth; mobile carts that can be rolled from space to space; or telemedicine tools integrated into patient rooms, exam spaces, conference rooms or doctors’ offices. 

“Telehealth can be deployed in any room anywhere in a facility,” says Rebecca Lewis, FAIA, FACHA, CID, director of health care design for DSGW Architects in Duluth, Minn. “You can talk to someone on an iPad, a screen within an exam room or in an office space. You just need to know what’s the best spot to deliver the right kind of care.”

The decision about which form the telehealth facilities will take comes down to a number of variables, ranging from finances to the deployment strategy, with planning strategies including:

Teleheath carts. A hospital or outpatient facility with limited money available to invest in telehealth may choose to make it available on carts that can be wheeled from room to room as needed. Outfitting a cart may cost more than integrating telehealth equipment into a patient room, but using carts can save money because a relatively small number of carts can serve multiple patient rooms and other spaces. Carts can be cumbersome, and care needs to be taken with their cords, but cart-based telehealth is a viable solution for many facilities.

Integrated setups. Many hospitals have opted to build telehealth tools directly into patient rooms. Similarly, ambulatory health facilities that include telehealth sometimes integrate the tools into exam rooms or conference rooms. An integrated setup can be the most convenient, and the equipment — such as the TV monitor — can be used for other purposes when not needed for telehealth.

Kaiser Permanente has integrated telehealth equipment into some of its patient rooms and uses telehealth carts to serve others.

“Our newest hospital, Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center, is equipped with monitors and two-way videos in each of our patient rooms,” says Angelene Baldi, AIA, EDAC, executive director of facilities strategy, planning and design for Kaiser Permanente and a member of the HGRC. “This can be used for telehealth appointments and is also used for entertainment, educational programs, food orders and more. In our older facilities, we use mobile video carts that can be wheeled into patient rooms for video appointments. These serve a dual purpose and can also be used as charting stations for nurses and clinicians.”

Kaiser Permanente’s telehealth program — which is currently handling 55% of the system’s ambulatory care visits — puts a premium on flexibility, says Zack Ryan, executive director of information technology capital project delivery. He says the facilities are designed to allow physician and patient interactions in a wide variety of situations.

“These tools need to be available to both our members and our providers in as many different situations and modalities as possible in order to deliver the optimal digital experience that can truly augment our in-person interactions,” Ryan says. “Our telehealth platform is built so that a provider can take their appointments and ad-hoc visits from their office, clinical spaces, home or other remote locations on a variety of devices. We also created this flexibility for our members and patients.” 

Dedicated spaces. Dedicated telehealth spaces take several forms. Some are designed exclusively for caregivers treating patients remotely, while others are set up so patients and caregivers can be in the dedicated room together and access another caregiver — a specialist, for example — via the telehealth equipment. The advantage of a dedicated space is that everything in the space can be optimized for telehealth.

At least one facility, Mercy Virtual Care Center in Chesterfield, Mo., is entirely composed of dedicated spaces. According to Mercy’s website, caregivers at four-story, 125,000-square-foot Mercy Virtual facility provide around-the-clock supplemental assistance and monitoring to caregivers in the 43 hospitals that make up the Mercy system and other facilities outside Mercy.

However, in some cases, dedicated spaces are not used enough to be worthwhile, says Patricia Shpilberg, M.Arch, vice president of planning and development for MedCraft, a health care real estate development firm headquartered in Minneapolis. She adds that access and ease of use are as essential for providers as they are for patient adoption of the technology.

“We had a client who had dedicated telehealth spaces away from their clinics and offices for providers to use during their virtual care sessions,” Shpilberg says. “The result was a limited adoption rate due to the disruption to their workday. Once the hospital integrated telehealth systems into the office work environment, the provider adoption rate started to rise.”

“There are a lot of times the patient is not present in an initial complex case discussion between providers in different specialties, so that’s why that larger telehealth suite was developed: to allow for ease of use and connection with multiple caregivers,” says Jennifer Ruschman, senior director of the center for telehealth at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. 

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has a mix of telehealth systems, but their mix includes several dedicated spaces, including a telehealth conference room that seats 18 to 20 people.

Sometimes a facility simply can’t afford to set aside space solely for telehealth, says Lewis, who regularly works with small rural facilities where budget is limited. In those facilities, a conference room or exam room might be optimized for telehealth but made available for other uses when it’s not being used for telehealth.

Regardless of whether a facility opts for dedicated, integrated or cart-based telehealth, experts say flexibility is essential.

“You need to build in flexibility because technology changes constantly,” Meilink says. “Especially on larger projects, the technologies you’re designing for in year one or two may not be what you’re going to install in year five when the building opens. You need to consider infrastructure — such as wireless technology and systems pathways — that enables future changes, including accommodating technology that doesn’t yet exist.”

Ryan says that is exactly how Kaiser Permanente thinks about its telehealth installations.

“It’s challenging to build for the future, with rapid development and changes in technology,” Ryan says. “The building timeline for hospitals is around five years, from design to opening, and telehealth solutions, use cases and infrastructure are very fast moving. The key to success is to plan and design hospitals for what you want the future patient experience to look like, and to create room for flexibility in the design and technology capabilities. 

“Kaiser Permanente strives to enable all of our new facilities to support telehealth, rather than only building these requirements into specific projects,” Ryan says.

Design practices

Many design elements of a telehealth program are similar regardless of whether the equipment is on a cart, integrated into a patient room or doctor’s office, or set up in a dedicated telehealth space. Every telehealth endpoint — that is, where the system connects to a caregiver or a patient — should meet some basic best practices to ensure an ideal experience for all involved parties.

Arkwright says that the standards used by the film industry — such as good lighting, proper acoustics and effective camera angles — should apply to telemedicine as well. 

“Imagine the professionalism CNN or ESPN takes in its productions,” Arkwright says. “Sometimes just the opposite goes on in telehealth. You can beam into a health system and the lighting is terrible, the background is dark, the doctor’s face is washed out and they’re hard to hear. Compare that to when everything is optimal or professional grade. That’s probably the difference between a patient perceiving, ‘This is high-quality care or not.’ These little things are important.”

The following guidelines apply regardless of the endpoint — a patient or exam room, a physician’s office, a conference room or a dedicated telehealth space:

Room size. With the right technology, telehealth can be deployed in any size room. Thus, a facility that is renovating an existing space to accommodate telehealth can create a program regardless of how small the room is. However, in a newly designed space or a renovated space that can be expanded, a larger size is desirable. The FGI Guidelines suggest that “the room should be large enough for the patient and the patient presenter, if one is present, to move about comfortably. The patient should be able to sit in a chair as well as use the examination table … Where the examination includes gait evaluation, the room should provide sufficient space for this activity to be captured by the screen.”

Surface colors. The space should be painted in a nonglossy, neutral color. Light blue or light gray work particularly well, Arkwright says. “White can be a little sterile or too bright, and yellow doesn’t do well on camera,” he says. “If the patient room is painted yellow, the patient might look like they have jaundice.”

Ruschman says they considered paint color carefully when designing the dedicated telehealth spaces at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and came up with a combination of colors that looks good on video and blends well with the hospital’s brand color palette. 

Lighting sources. Ideally, the light source should be bright and positioned in front of the subject — the patient or the caregiver — so that it illuminates the face clearly. Natural light is good for accurately rendering color, but it’s difficult to control, so if the space has windows, make sure they can be covered when the natural light is not flattering. 

At the Liberty Campus of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, which features telehealth equipment in each of its 40 patient rooms, natural light is controlled by blinds. “We don’t want to limit the natural light in patient rooms, but it can cause shadows, so we address that as part of our training,” Ruschman says. “We teach users how to do a self-view check — if it’s not good, they pull the blinds.”

Regardless of the light source, it should be balanced and distributed, says Ellen Taylor, Ph.D., AIA, EDAC, vice president for research at The Center for Health Design in Concord, Calif. “You need frontal lighting so there are no shadows,” says Taylor, who is a member of the HGRC. “But you also don’t want someone to look washed out, so depending on the task and type of treatment, the color and brightness of the light matter, too.” 

A technical measure of how well a light bulb renders color is the color rendering index (CRI), which ranges from 0 to 100. Natural sunlight is 100, and a dim streetlight is about 0. Sometimes CRI is not indicated on a lightbulb package, but if the bulb has a CRI of 90 or more (which is preferable), it usually will say so on the package. The FGI Guidelines call for lights in telehealth spaces to be warm, white light — 3,200 to 4,000 Kelvin. 

Endpoint background. Designers should consider the background of a TV newscast — if it’s not an image related to the newscast or the network logo, there’s usually not much there. That’s because the network wants the viewers to pay attention to the anchor, not the background. Designers should have the same goal for the background of the caregiver endpoint; it should be neutral enough that the patient pays attention to the doctor, not a cluttered bookshelf in the background. 

“You want to make sure that whatever the patients are seeing behind the provider is a good image for your system,” Shpilberg says. “Sometimes that space is used for branding or education.”

Acoustic issues. There are two issues to consider in telehealth regarding acoustics: privacy and clarity. Privacy can be addressed by making sure the door to the space, whether it’s a patient endpoint or caregiver endpoint, can be securely closed and that it blocks sound. 

“It’s about making the patient feel like they can share information privately,” says Lewis, who also is a member of the HGRC. “Doors can be the weak point with acoustics, so perhaps you shouldn’t locate the door on a busy corridor — perhaps around a corner is better. Simple things like that can add to the feeling of privacy and make the patient more comfortable.”

Acoustic clarity results from a combination of the design and construction of the room and the technology used by the telehealth system. The designers of the dedicated telehealth spaces at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital included acoustic paneling on the walls to optimize the acoustics, Ruschman says. 

Getting technology right

The heart of a telehealth system is the technology that connects the two or more remote participants. Getting that technology right can make the difference between success and failure.

Every telehealth system incorporates a monitor — or multiple monitors — of some type, and monitor technology is constantly advancing. However, putting the monitor in the right place and at the right angle is essential regardless of how advanced the monitor is. The screen should be installed so the patient can comfortably look straight on to the care provider, as if they were in the room. “You want the monitor at eye level, as if the provider were sitting right in front of you,” Shpilberg says. “You want to make it feel as real as possible.”

The position of the camera that is capturing the image — on both sides of the interaction — is equally essential, whether the camera is separate from the monitor or integrated. 

“There was a fascinating study done in 2007 by Tam and colleagues that looked at gaze angle, and at 7 degrees there was a perception that the person was happier, warmer, more approachable, more interested,” Taylor says. “At 15 degrees, it’s starting to look down, and the perception was somebody was sad, depressed, or timid or hiding something. So, imagine a behavioral health visit where just the angle of the camera gives you a different perception of what’s happening with that person.”

Another technological aspect of the camera that is important is whether the caregiver can control the camera at the patient endpoint, which allows them to zoom in on a particular part of the patient. 

“The remote camera control is one of the bigger challenges,” Ruschman says. “The far-end camera controls are really important to our clinicians, because they want to pan and tilt and zoom in and out. This lets them see the nonverbal cues.”

As with the camera, getting the microphone and speaker set up correctly is essential. The microphone built into monitors may be good enough for normal Zoom meetings, but Arkwright recommends a separate external microphone for better quality audio. Similarly, he recommends separate speakers — or even noise-canceling headphones — to maximize sound quality.

At the Liberty Campus of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, separate speakers and microphones are mounted above the patient beds for maximum audio clarity, Ruschman says. But they’re working on a new health care facility, and they may integrate the audio equipment into the monitor because that technology has improved, she adds.

All telehealth systems rely on a strong internet connection. In some cases, Wi-Fi is good enough, users say, but a wired connection is always more reliable.

“We prefer to use hardwired where we can,” Ruschman says. “But most of our telehealth carts run on Wi-Fi. So, we train folks on how to get a hardwired connection, but we’ve found that usually the carts run pretty well on Wi-Fi.”

Ready for change

The facilities issues surrounding telehealth are complex. The key, those involved say, is building spaces that can accommodate today’s technology while being prepared for it to change.

ILSB Recognized by AIA Maryland

The Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building (ILSB) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) was recognized by the AIA Maryland Excellence in Design awards program. The project received a Jury Citation for Institutional Architecture during a virtual awards ceremony held September 24.

Designed and engineered by Ballinger, the ILSB creates a highly visible home for the sciences on campus and furthers UMBC’s vision of inclusive academic excellence. Teaching and research laboratories line a north-facing glass wall looking onto a flowing campus walkway, creating a living billboard for the sciences. The glass-clad laboratory volume attaches to a brick clad mass that blends with the campus in scale and materiality. Pedestrian walkways flow around bioretention areas capturing site and roof water to visibly link science and sustainability while creating a memorable campus landscape. A double-height commons creates a central meeting and interaction space immediately accessible to the teaching portion of the building. A monumental public art installation designed by artist Volkan Alkanoglu, “In Flight”, is featured to both join art with science and also to elevate the public experience of the student commons on campus.

Ballinger Named to Consulting-Specifying Engineer’s 2020 MEP Giants List

Ballinger was named to Consulting-Specifying Engineer’s list of 2020 MEP Giants. The annual list identifies the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States and Canada. The firms recognized by the peer-reviewed publication continuously push boundaries in engineering, providing the top engineered systems in the building industry. Balligner was recognized in the August 2020 issue of Consulting-Specifying Engineer and will be honored at a virtual awards event in October.

Ballinger Designers Rank in International Portable Museum Design Competition

Instant Museum, a concept by Ballinger designers Philip Claghorn and Ray Lai, made the shortlist of the Archhive Books’ Portable Reading Rooms competition, representing the US on the global list. The international architecture competition invited designers to create a modular book-sharing structure to encourage reading and provide a community space for citizens of all ages.

The Instant Museum concept is a dynamic installation that aims to change the static and exclusive perception of the traditional museum. In contrast, the public is encouraged to ‘play’ with the modular structure. Throughout their concept, the designers prioritized public accessibility. The installation makes classic works of art and architectural literature available in an instant, in communities that may not have easy access to museums.

Archhive Books, the competition sponsor, is a print publication that connects architects with social issues and engagement opportunities.

View the entry

DHK Center Wins BD+C Building Team Award

The NewYork-Presbyterian David H. Koch (DHK) Center, a 734,000 SF ambulatory care center designed through a collaboration between Ballinger, HOK, and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, received a 2020 Building Team Award from Building Design + Construction.

The national awards program honors building projects for their architectural excellence as well as for successful collaboration between owners, architects, engineers and contractors. A jury of 17 experts selected the DHK Center for silver recognition.

Opened in 2018 on New York City’s Upper East Side, the building was designed to provide patient and family-centered care in a healing environment.

Winners were published in the May/June issue of Building Design + Construction magazine.

Ballinger’s Erin Nunes Cooper named to Healthcare Design’s HCD 10

Ballinger’s Erin Nunes Cooper, AIA, LEED AP was named to Healthcare Design’s prestigious HCD 10. The HCD 10 is a professional awards program that honors members of the healthcare design community who have demonstrated significant recent accomplishments and contributions to the field.

Erin is a Principal and Director of Project Management at Ballinger. She continues to advance Ballinger’s academic medical center portfolio and regularly presents within the office and at healthcare conferences nationwide.

In her project work, Erin is passionate about improving the quality of the built environment and the patient, family, and care team experience. She developed a formal process, in collaboration with the team, for guiding project stakeholders through decision-making using role-playing workshops with 3D printed model pieces. The process continues be a key part of Ballinger’s process for engaging users during design.

Erin’s understanding of the complexity of healthcare projects balances forward thinking design concepts with the realities of clinical requirements and regulatory approvals. She is both strategic and tactical in her leadership and synthesizes complex information to help clients come to informed decisions.

HCD 10 award winners across ten categories will be recognized at a dinner on September 5, part of the HCD Forum in Asheville, NC, and at the 2019 Healthcare Design Conference in New Orleans.

Link to Healthcare Design announcement

Science + Engineering Hall Profiled by George Washington University

Ballinger’s Science + Engineering Hall was the subject of a profile by George Washington University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS).

Excerpted from SEAS website:

First-time visitors to GW’s new Science and Engineering Hall (SEH) push open the doors at any one of its entrances and are immediately struck by the light-filled and open commons spaces. And when they glance down to the atrium below—which they always do—they can’t help but notice the vibrant display of its green wall, one of the building’s three. And then, as they start to make their way through the building, they usually do a double-take at the glass walls, designed to be written on and covered with equations, lines of computer code, or simple lists of processes and tasks.

What most impresses them, however, are the labs and the classrooms—the spaces where SEAS students and faculty teach and learn, discover and invent. These are the spaces where we work, and the new SEH is changing the way we do that. In the process, it is proving to be exactly what we expected it to be: the enabler of our ambitions.


Some say that “seeing is believing.” And it’s true that being able to see the gleaming, new, state-of-the-art, eight-story building standing at the intersection of 22nd and H Streets certainly helps one understand the myriad new research possibilities that the SEH creates for SEAS faculty. No one sees the possibilities more clearly than the researchers themselves and the aspiring faculty candidates we meet each semester who are competing for a chance to teach and research in the SEH.

Even during the building’s planning and construction phases, the SEH was a powerful magnet, drawing in the talented and dedicated faculty SEAS has recruited recently. These are assistant, associate, and full professors who saw the possibilities for their research to flourish at GW and chose to start their careers here, or leave very well established labs at other universities, to work alongside new colleagues in the SEH.

With access to the state-of-the-art core facilities—the high bay, nanofabrication lab, and microscopy suite—and a host of other labs, these recently recruited faculty are building thriving research programs and driving record research success for SEAS.

Zhenyu Li in lab with studentsAssistant Professor Zhenyu Li, a member of the new Department of Biomedical Engineering faculty, received a four-year, $2 million National Institutes of Health research grant this past fall to develop ambulatory sensor arrays to monitor children with asthma. He will work on this highly innovative project with colleagues in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Children’s National Medical Center. Using the building’s ultraclean nanofabrication lab, Dr. Li will be able to design, build, and test these and other sensors on site, something previously impossible for GW researchers. Less time(and frustration) spent working at outside facilities means more time and faster turnaround for Dr. Li’s research.

Like Dr. Li, Assistant Professor Volker Sorger of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering also is prospering in the SEH nanofabrication lab. Dr. Sorger studies photonics, which is optics integrated on a chip, to create the nanoscale chips necessary to develop computers that will operate on light rather than electronics.

Professor Sorger in his nanotechnology labAs a doctoral student, he was part of a University of California-Berkley team that used a technique called plasmonics to create the world’s smallest semiconductor laser, and he is continuing that research here at SEAS. His efforts have been very fruitful. In just over 16 months, he has won three Air Force Office of Scientific Research grants—including a prestigious Young Investigator Program award—and a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. Together, these grants total more than $2 million.

Associate Professor Lijie Grace Zhang studies novel 3D bioprinting techniques to help advance the development of tissue and organ replacements. Being able to regenerate complex tissues, such as vascularized bone, cartilage, and muscle, is one of the current obstacles researchers face to creating human organs using 3D printers. This is where Dr. Zhang’s highly innovative research is making its mark: in 2014 she received a five-year, $2.2 million Director’s New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH awards these very prestigious grants to support unusually creative researchers early in their careers.

Dr. Zhang’s colleague in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Dr. Kausik Sarkar, stands to benefit greatly from the SEH microscopy, or imaging, suite. A full professor, he conducts research on ultrasound imaging, drug delivery and therapy, and high-fidelity simulation of blood rheology. In addition to his existing grants from the NSF and NIH, Dr. Sarkar won a four-year, $1.2 million R01 grant last fall from the NIH. He and his colleagues will study ultrasound imaging and the delivery of anticancer drugs to prostate cancer tissues.

A number of other recently recruited SEAS faculty do not conduct their research in the SEH core lab facilities but profit from the building’s other lab spaces or simply from being able to collaborate more easily with their SEAS colleagues, now that the school’s six departments are housed under one roof.

Instead of a six-block walk across campus to visit SEAS faculty from other departments, the faculty of the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering now take the stairs or elevators to collaborate with them. The accomplishments of two of the department’s more recent hires, Assistant Professor David Broniatowski and Assistant Professor Zoe Szajnfarber, also demonstrate the record research success that SEAS is enjoying in the new SEH. Dr. Broniatowski recently received a $1.5 million R01 grant from the NIH’s National Institutes of General Medical Sciences for his survey research on attitudes about getting vaccinated, and Dr. Szajnfarber was most recently awarded a nearly $1 million INSPIRE grant from NSF. INSPIRE is a special grant that supports highly interdisciplinary research that has unusual transformative potential.

Photo of the high bay in the science and engineering hall

New faculty are not alone in understanding the benefits the SEH brings to engineering at GW. Prospective students seem to understand it, too.

Undergraduate enrollment has risen 50 percent over the past six years. As of fall 2015, it stood at 880 students, with particularly strong growth in our computer science, biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering programs. And we are particularly proud that 38 percent of our undergraduate students are female, almost twice the national average for engineering schools.

Student Studying in the SEHSystems engineering, the school’s newest undergraduate program, also has shown remarkable growth, increasing from approximately 20 to 120 students in just five years. With the large number of engineering consulting firms in the Washington, DC-Metro area, job prospects for these students is proving to be excellent.

At the graduate level, enrollment is also very strong and will continue to grow as we add new online degrees in our professional engineering program. The first of these, a doctor of engineering degree in engineering management, was initiated in August 2015; by summer 2016 we anticipate an enrollment of 100 working professionals. To meet the strong need, particularly in the US, for biomedical engineering professionals who understand the regulatory process and can advance medical device and imaging diagnostics and therapies to market, we have created a second new program, a master of engineering in regulatory biomedical engineering. This program—which draws on faculty in SEAS and in GW’s medical, public health, and law schools—started in spring 2016 and already is off to a good start. It is a truly interdisciplinary degree program with enormous potential, not just locally, but nationally and internationally.


If success, in fact, breeds success, then the SEH also should help attract new investment in SEAS. The numbers suggest that this already is happening, that the SEH is acting as a beacon to do just that.

SEAS has achieved record fundraising levels in the last six years, the period after the university’s announcement of its commitment to build the SEH. Funds raised by the school in fiscal year 2015 were more than quadruple those raised in fiscal year 2010, and the trend shows a steady increase throughout the six-year period. The school also far surpassed what it achieved in the previous six-year period, fiscal years 2004 through 2009. Compared to that period, SEAS nearly tripled its fundraising during the current six-year period.

The new funds make possible a whole range of investment by the school—investments in new faculty, student scholarships and activities, research equipment, new academic programs, and more.

Endowed professorships are a particularly important investment, because they play a crucial role in attracting leaders who can build nationally recognized education and research programs. Through the generosity of our donors, SEAS was fortunate enough to establish two endowed professorships in 2014 and 2015, and recruit internationally recognized scholars to the faculty.

Ahmed Louri teaching in a class roomIn January 2015, Dr. Igor Efimov joined SEAS as the Alisann and Terry Collins Professor and chair of the new Department of Biomedical Engineering. In September 2015, the new chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dr. Ahmed Louri, was installed as the David and Marilyn Karlgaard Professor.

The combination of an endowed professorship and the research facilities of the SEH creates a powerful set of incentives to be able to offer faculty candidates, and they give SEAS the chance to compete with the very best universities in recruiting the very best faculty.


The SEH is not the crowning achievement of our work here at SEAS. It’s really more of a launch pad of sorts, an engineering achievement in its own right that enables us to reach heights we otherwise couldn’t reach. Or maybe it’s better conceived of as a command module—the control center and living quarters—for intrepid engineers and computer scientists on a voyage of discovery. Either way, it changes the way we work and opens the door for a stunning number of discoveries along the way. And for that, we celebrate our new, amazing, versatile SEH, the enabler of our ambitions.

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Ballinger’s Christina Grimes wins HCD 10 Team MVP Award

Senior Project Healthcare Planner Christina Grimes, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, EDAC was named a winner of the HDC 10, an annual awards program organized by Healthcare Design magazine honoring contributions to the healthcare industry. She received the “Team MVP” Award for her work with Tower Health System and her role on the Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical and Patient Care. The “Team MVP” category recognizes individuals whose contribution to team projects proved invaluable. Christina accepted the award during the Healthcare Design Forum and is recognized in a special feature article in the September 2017 issue of Healthcare Design.

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Angela Fante appointed Ballinger’s Chief Structural Engineer succeeding Ed Zinski

The architecture/engineering firm Ballinger is proud to announce the promotion of Angela Fante, PE, SECB, LEED AP to the position of Chief Structural Engineer.  Ms. Fante began at Ballinger in the year 2000 and is currently an Associate Principal and Structural Group Manager.  She succeeds Ed Zinski who has served as Chief Structural Engineer for 26 years and will continue to serve at Ballinger as a quality assurance advisor.

“Angela Fante brings to the role of Chief Structural Engineer a combination of vision, unrelenting drive, and passion for our clients. She has successfully led many of Ballinger’s most significant projects over the past decade,” Engineering Principal Jonathan Friedan said.

Mr. Friedan continued: “She is a superb engineer.  She uses a full range of digital tools to make great design for exceptional buildings happen.  She guides every step of the process from initial concepts to value engineering, to well-integrated detailing to field consulting.  With a brilliant mind, worn steel-toed boots and a good heart, she makes everyone of us better.  Angie is the ideal Chief Structural Engineer to succeed Ed and will continue to lead Ballinger well into the 21st century.”

Ms. Fante will lead Ballinger’s structural engineering into the realm of new analysis and modeling technologies, delivery methods, and innovative ways of revisiting traditional building solutions.

In addition to her responsibilities within the firm, Ms. Fante is currently a member of the Delaware Valley Engineers Week PR committee.  In 2011, she was named Young Engineer of the Year by the Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia.  She earned a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering and Master of Architectural Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. She is licensed in 18 states, including Washington, DC.

“It is both an honor and a great responsibility to carry on the legacy of structural engineering excellence at Ballinger,” Ms. Fante said. “I’m taking the lead at a time when our team’s ability to execute and deliver both consistent and innovative results for clients is strong. This is in no small part due to Ed’s prior leadership, his disciplined process and attention to detail, and instilling in the team the notion that anything is possible in structures if we remain vigilant in adhering to basic engineering principles.”

Mr. Zinski became Ballinger’s Chief Structural Engineer in 1990, having previously worked as vice-president of a national structural engineering consulting firm. During his tenure, Ed has led the advancement of the Quality Assurance / Quality Control (“QA/QC”) program across all disciplines throughout the firm, enhancing Ballinger’s reputation as one of the leading design firms in the country. Ed earned his Bachelors of Architectural Engineering from Penn State and Masters in Engineering from University of South Florida.

In recent years, Ballinger’s structural project engineering has been the recipient of the prestigious “Presidential Award of Excellence” from the American Institute of Steel Construction, as well as many other project awards from the American Concrete Institute, the American Institute of Architects, Engineering News Record, the Concrete Foundation Association, and the Delaware Valley Association of Structural Engineers.

Ballinger’s History of Chief Structural Engineers

Ballinger traces its founding to 1878, making it one of the first architecture/engineering firms in the United States. Excellence in structural engineering has a long tradition at Ballinger with a distinguished lineage of Chief Structural Engineers over the past 65 years including:

  • Angela Fante; 2016 –
  • Edward Zinski; 1990 – 2016
  • Felix “Phil” DiNicolantonio
  • Walter Bruhns
  • John DeMoll

Monterey Bay Aquarium wins AIA 25 Year Award

The Monterey Bay Aquarium was awarded the 2016 Twenty-five Year Award by the AIA. This award, recognizing architectural design of enduring significance, is conferred on a project that has stood the test of time for 30+ years to date. The aquarium opened in 1984 and continues to be one of California’s most-visited tourist attractions. The aquarium is located directly on Monterey Bay, where seawater, airborne salts, and the marine environment, both internally and externally, take a significant toll on the facility’s infrastructure. Key to the Aquarium’s durability has been a commitment to ongoing investment in infrastructure renewal.  Every 5 years since 1999, Ballinger has sent an expert team to comprehensively assess every aspect of the facility – from the roofs and concrete decks to the huge seawater tank exhibits to the life support systems infrastructure.  Working closely with the Aquarium’s planning and physical plant staff, a comprehensive 5-year renewal spending plan results.  Ballinger is very proud of our role in helping the Monterey Bay Aquarium fulfill its ever evolving mission to protect our marine environment.

Photo Credit: Bruce Damonte

Photo Credit: Bruce Damonte

The AIA jury called the project “a brilliant, gritty adaptive reuse, and still at the forefront of interactive museum space.”

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Interior Design’s Best of Year: GW Science & Engineering Hall

Ballinger joined the design industry’s best and brightest last night to celebrate Interior Design’s 10th annual Best of Year Awards, held at Frank Gehry’s IAC Building in New York.

The Science and Engineering Hall at George Washington University received an Honor Award in the Education category. The design of the building creates a new paradigm for inter- and multi-disciplinary research and learning, providing research and instructional labs, office space, team rooms and dedicated interaction space. A neutral palette is accented with bursts of color to energize the space and assist in wayfinding. A continuous flow of materials – terrazzo, granite, concrete and maple – from the common spaces into the teaching and research spaces creates a gradual transition and highlights the building’s mission: groundbreaking science.

Ballinger Principal Craig S. Spangler, AIA, Associate Principal Rob W. Voss, AIA, LEED BD+C and Senior Interior Designer Gina M. Weckel attended the ceremony.

GW Science and Engineering Hall Achieves LEED Gold

George Washington University’s Science and Engineering Hall (SEH) was awarded LEED Gold by the United States Green Building Council (USCBC). At the start of schematic design GW challenged Ballinger to design SEH without multiplying the University’s carbon footprint. The resulting design is an academic building that is unparalleled at GW in scope and function, as well as eco-friendly. The building’s sustainable strategies were an interdisciplinary collaboration between Ballinger’s architecture and engineering studios. Sustainable strategies include:

Power from a Co-Generation System
The project sponsored the creation of and receives its power from a new co-generation power system that will reduce the building’s carbon footprint by more than half, saving 8,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Enthalpy Wheels
Enthalpy Wheels are incorporated into all air handling units for the building. This technology recycles the once wasted energy from the exhausted air of the building in order to heat or cool incoming air, reducing energy needs. The savings are expected to pay for the system in less than three years.


Chilled Beams
Chilled Beams, suspended from the ceiling, are utilized throughout the project and use water to cool the air more efficiently than a conventional air-conditioning system.

Green Roof
Vegetation covers more than 10,000 SF of the roof, keeping the building cool by absorbing heat from the sun while also reducing rainwater runoff. The remaining upper roof area is a light-colored, high albedo roof to further maximize heat reflectance. Rain from the roof areas drains into a 42,000-gallon cistern where it is filtered and then used to flush toilets, saving roughly 850,000 gallons of water per year.

GW Science and Engineering Hall Among ENR’s Best Projects of 2015

Engineering News-Record (ENR) announced the winning entries for the ENR MidAtlantic Best Projects of 2015. Ballinger’s Science and Engineering Hall at George Washington University received the Award of Merit in the Higher Education/Research category.

The 750,000 SF Science and Engineering Hall is the focal point of GW’s rapidly expanding research emphasis, and was designed to transform the university’s capabilities and reputation in key areas of academic pursuit. The building brings together research and teaching spaces previously spread across a dozen buildings, and nearly doubles the space on campus available to a variety of science and engineering programs.

The ENR MidAtlantic Best Projects competition recognizes the year’s top projects in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

NYU Langone Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) Wins Adaptive Reuse Award

Ballinger’s design for the NYU Langone Medical Center Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) won a Healthcare Facilities Symposium Distinction Award in the category of Adaptive Reuse.

NYU Langone Ambulatory Care_Nurse Station

The project transformed an inward-focused 50-year-old Verizon telecommunications office building into a vibrant new center for outpatient care. The 15 floors acquired by NYU Langone of the 24-story building have been fully renovated for outpatient use, and are served by modernized and expanded building infrastructure located on three common equipment floors. Constructed in 1966-67, the original building had minimal public presence, and public access to the existing privately-owned public space at the ground floor had been discontinued. The renovation of the ground floor and adjacent north and south plazas created an open and welcoming arrival sequence. Off-street vehicular queuing at the north is now visually connected to interior lobby waiting and amenity areas. The lobby and café look out to reimagined outdoor public space at the south.

In addition to the economic and environmental benefits of adaptive reuse, Ballinger’s design consolidated different parts of the outpatient programs into a single location. By improving patient access and creating a cohesive image, the project elevates NYU Langone’s brand identity.

The Healthcare Facilities Symposium was established in 1987 as a forum exploring how the design of the physical environment can positively affect healing and promote well-being. The annual awards program recognizes design teams and projects that have made a profound contribution to the healthcare design industry.

Ballinger Among Top A/E Firms for BD+C Giants 300

Ballinger is pleased to be recognized in this year’s Building Design and Construction Giants 300 Report for Top Architecture/Engineering Firms. In addition to the firm’s overall ranking (#32), Ballinger ranked #26 in the Top BIM Architecture Firms category, #22 in the Top University Sector Architecture Firms category and #23 in the Top Healthcare Sector Architecture Firms category.

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Ballinger Makes Distinguished ARCHITECT 50

Each year, ARCHITECT magazine conducts an in-depth survey to produce a qualitative ranking of the top 50 architecture firms across a broad range of categories, from business to sustainability to design. Based on factors such as net revenue per employee, profits invested in research, and energy efficient metrics in conjunction with the AIA 2030 challenge, Ballinger was ranked #39 overall. Ballinger’s commitment to sustainable design was recognized with a rank of 25 in the sustainability category.

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Craig Spangler Named 2012 Kea Distinguished Professor

Design Principal Craig Spangler, AIA was named the 2012 Kea Distinguished Professorship at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Kea Professors, eminent of practitioners and scholars in the field of architecture, serve as critics and lecturers for the architecture program. Craig, an alumnus of the University of Maryland, was selected for his unique design solutions that address the rapidly changing nature of university campuses.

The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery named 2012 Lab of the Year

R&D Magazine has bestowed this year’s annual Lab of the Year award upon the Ballinger-designed Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. This prestigious awards program is an international competition recognizing excellence in laboratory design. Situated at the heart of the University of Wisonsin-Madison campus, this unique 330,000 SF biomedical research facility is home to twin institutes, the private, nonprofit Morgridge Institute for Research and the public Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. To engage both the local and campus community with the science happening in the building, an unusually large part of the program is dedicated to public activity. A ground floor Town Center serves as a civic science place and a living room for the surrounding science and engineering campus quadrant. The secure research floors located above the public realm embrace the concepts of transparency and openness to promote interaction, collaboration and discovery within the lab environment.

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Weill Greenberg Center Profiled by Architect Magazine

Ballinger project the Weill Greenberg Center at Weill Cornell Medical College, designed with Polshek Partnership Architects, was recently profiled by Architect Magazine.

Excerpted from

The Weill Cornell Medical Center is a sprawling complex on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The campus includes several prominent buildings, among them the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, a teaching hospital, and research facilities. With the opening last year of the Weill Greenberg Center, the first clinical building in Weill Cornell’s 109-year history, the medical center establishes a new paradigm in ambulatory healthcare. The 15-story, 330,000-square-foot flagship, designed by New York–based Polshek Partnership Architects and by Ballinger of Philadelphia, will house the most advanced clinical facilities for departments such as dermatology, hypertension treatment, otolaryngology, in vitro fertilization, and cardiology.

Polshek Partnership was the architect for the base building and all the public spaces. The firm worked closely with Ballinger, which designed the conference center and clinical practices, including reception areas and exam and waiting rooms. Polshek partner Todd Schliemann explains the strategy: “There’s a trend for the delivery of healthcare away from a threatening environment. The goal is to deinstitutionalize the experience and create an atmosphere that is perceived as a familiar everyday event.”

The building’s translucent, vertically faceted curtain wall is a deliberate departure from the architecture of the surrounding buildings. By using low-iron glazing, tinted with a chevron pattern of white ceramic fritting, Schliemann says Polshek was able to create “a soft, elegant veil over the façade.” The contrast with the campus’s older masonry buildings brings the Weill Greenberg Center out of that institutional context and into the larger city, establishing a new, refined image for healthcare facilities.

The interiors are no less inspired. In both the public spaces and the clinics, Polshek and Ballinger pursued a spa theme, or salus per aquam (Latin for “health through water”), which suggested a palette of warm materials—wood, travertine walls and floors, and Cor-Ten steel accents, with soothing neutral colors, reflective and cascading water features in the lobby, and, of course, an abundance of natural light. The lobby is served, like a spa resort, by a convenient vehicle drop-off with valet parking. From the lobby, escalators ascend to the Patient Welcome and Resource Center, which is open to the public. The center offers patients and families a quiet place to rest between appointments and browse through medical information in one of its lounges, on a computer workstation, or in the Health Education Library.

Architect Eric Swanson led the design team for Ballinger. He acknowledges that evidence-based design now drives the strategies of most new healthcare facilities. The goal of evidence-based design is to create environments that are therapeutic, restorative, economical, and efficient and that increase patient satisfaction while reducing both patient and staff stress. The architect and client make decisions based on information gathered from research and past project evaluations. The architect then uses the findings to create the best research-backed solutions for the client’s particular needs. During the planning phase of this building, the architects worked closely with Weill Cornell’s Physician Organization, which is charged with implementing a new vision for ambulatory patient care through an initiative called Weill Cornell: We Care.

At the Weill Greenberg Center, the Ballinger team relied on materials to facilitate wayfinding. The reception area on every patient floor is located on the north side of the building, making orientation consistent throughout the building. Exam rooms occupy the interior, and doctors’ offices claim the southern and eastern perimeters. Reception areas are framed by backdrops of Cor-Ten steel, whose rust patina Swanson says is appropriate here: “It’s a real material, natural, durable, and urbane. It has a rich texture.” Bronze letters on the steel identify the clinic, and patients are directed either to the left or right, depending on their destination. Signage, etched into frosted-glass panels along the corridors, leads patients to the waiting rooms, which are rendered in neutral colors with midcentury modern leather furniture and high-end artwork selected by an art consultant. The serenity of the center’s waiting rooms supports the premise that there is a clear relationship between design and patient perceptions—the more attractive the environment, the higher the perceived quality of medical care and the lower the anxiety.

Ballinger focused a great deal of attention on the exam rooms. First of all, the firm designed the cabinetry to conceal the medical instruments that are usually on display. Finishes were carefully specified. For instance, when cork floors were rejected due to maintenance concerns, the architects found a rubber-vinyl alternative that looks like cork and supports the spa theme. The architects also concentrated on the lighting, creating an array of options. There’s a single, recessed downlight in the ceiling; under-cabinet lighting; and task lighting. This strategy allows the physician to choose the appropriate illumination for the circumstances.

The Weill Greenberg Center is a Pebble Project, a joint research effort between the nonprofit Center for Health Design and selected healthcare providers. The purpose of the Pebble Project initiative is to cause a “ripple effect” in American healthcare by providing documented examples of facilities whose design has made a difference in the level of care and financial performance. Although findings on Weill Greenberg have not yet been published, there is preliminary feedback suggesting that the center’s goals have been surpassed and that it will be a model for the next generation of healthcare design.

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