Spero Academy Children on Stairs

HDR Wins Four Evidence-Based Design Touchstone Awards

Leading the Way in Research-Integrated Design

The Center for Health Design has recognized four HDR projects as part of its Evidence-Based Design Touchstone Awards. Three projects received the Platinum Level Award, including the new HDR Global Headquarters, the new Parkland Hospital and Methodist Fremont Health. Spero Academy was recognized at the Gold Level.

Touchstone Awards recognize the use of an evidence-based design process in the pursuit of increasing value, improving outcomes and engaging stakeholders. Submissions are judged based on three touchstones of the process: collaborate, evaluate and share.

“The entire HDR research team, along with the respective project teams, have done stellar work to integrate evaluation and knowledge-sharing throughout the course of these exceptional projects,” said HDR Director of Research Jeri Brittin, Ph.D. “We’ve argued for a long time that the promotion of health and wellness in the built environment extends beyond healthcare facilities. The Center for Health Design clearly shares this view, and we’re proud to receive the first-ever Touchstone Awards for a corporate workplace and a school. I also am happy to acknowledge our dedicated partners from the NPH Research Coalition who helped achieve yet another accolade for the new Parkland Hospital project.”

HDR Global Headquarters: Platinum Level

At HDR’s new global headquarters, a high priority was placed on promoting employee well-being. Many design strategies for the building and neighborhood intended to spur people to be more physically active. A natural experiment including the old and new workplace environments, and two control sites, evaluated how the design and location of the headquarters affected employees’ sedentary behavior and physical activity — two vitally important health indicators. It was one of the first credible studies to link the holistic workplace to reductions in sedentary behavior and increases in light and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.  

“I appreciate the application of EBD in a non-healthcare environment,” one juror commented. 

New Parkland Hospital: Platinum Level

Anchoring a new urban center and serving as the safety net hospital for Dallas County, the new 2.1 million-square-foot Parkland Hospital replaced a 60-year-old facility. The vision was to create a safe, welcoming, patient-centered healing environment promoting excellence in clinical care, teaching and research. A hospital research coalition, formed in 2016 to evaluate the new facility, determined its design impacts on patient and staff outcomes, generating knowledge for Parkland and the industry.   

“On so many levels, this is an extraordinary project,” a juror said. “Every step of the way was well documented and lined up with key EBD goals in a seamless sort of way. It was very encouraging to see so many different organizations that had made such a deep commitment to the idea of EBD.”

Methodist Fremont Health: Platinum Level

Design at Methodist Fremont Health included a major addition to and renovation of the acute care hospital tower and an expansion and renovation of the long-term care facility. HDR's study suggested that the architectural design of the acute care patient units would be associated with improved patient and staff outcomes.

“Quite an achievement,” the jury stated. “[The project] achieved a high level of engagement from all involved!”

Spero Academy: Gold Level

Spero Academy is a public K-6 elementary charter school in Minneapolis that provides a national model of tailored education for children with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs. To accommodate planned programming expansion and meet the growing demand for Academy services, Spero hired HDR to help design a school building that embodied their mission. The process included discussions with Spero Academy staff related to ideal learning environments for the student population.

“Good stakeholder involvement throughout the process,” noted a juror.

On Oct. 25, Touchstone Award recipients will be announced at the Healthcare Design Expo & Conference.