Perkins and Wills is an over eight decades old, multifaceted, award-winning architecture and design firm. Established in 1935 by Lawrence B. Perkins and Philip Will, Jr. on the tenet: Our “ideas and buildings” must always “honor the broader goals of society” that the firm still religiously abides by. They are the second-largest design firm in the world and rightly so, with 27 offices worldwide, each equipped with their own culture, challenges, and distinctiveness; they like to call themselves ‘the smallest “big firm” out there.’ They believe we cannot exist in a mutually exclusive world and hence team up with individuals from all ethnicities and cultures, genders, and abilities. They also offer internships, fellowships, and award scholarships, among other things, to help worthy students with the right resources.

Perkins and Wills primarily focus on Design Excellence, Diversity and Inclusion, Living Design, Research, Resilience, Social Purpose, Sustainability, and Well-being, amongst others. They believe people are at the heart of what they do and therefore design buildings that are sustainable, inviting, appealing to all, and spaces that make a positive difference in the world. Each one of their projects is a testimony to their ideals, values, and ethics as an organization, setting an exemplary example for the architecture community and the world as a whole. They believe: “Design has the power to inspire joy, uplift lives, and strengthen the spirit of community.” They have implemented precisely that at the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation American Cancer Society, Hope Lodge at Houston, Texas, with great finesse. 

“Hope Lodge” the name in itself is promising and reassuring. It is a safe, comfortable, and free lodging facility for cancer patients and their family members/caregiver in Houston. It’s called home for healing and fittingly so, as it provides the occupants with a suite, clean linen, resource library, recreation rooms, kitchen, personal pantry, meditation room, transportation to treatment, and a nurturing community of volunteers. This in itself is a great source of comfort and confidence not only for the patients but also for their families. It is located within close proximity of the Medical District, which ensures convenience and ease of navigation to local cancer treatments and centres. The location combined with the design gives the patient a sense of being in a sanctuary and yet being connected.

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A location map showing the proximity of The Hope Lodge the Medical District_©www.perkinswill.com
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Central garden court with trellis on top_©www.perkinswill.com

This project by Perkins and Wills, constructed for the American Cancer Society, spanned 64,000 square feet and was completed in 2019. The driving force behind the project is Ron Stelmarski (Principal, Design Director, Texas), John Strasius (Principal, Corporate and Commercial, Dallas), and Mary Dickinson (Associate Principal, Dallas).

Perkins and Wills have designed Hope Lodge keeping in mind the quaint concept of cloisters, where a central building is connected by multiple covered walkways and alleyways, also usually flanked by gardens.

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Central garden court with biophilic elements_©www.perkinswill.com
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Glass facades helping bring the outside in_©www.perkinswill.com
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Side elevation of the residential block_©www.perkinswill.com

This idea has been effectively implemented at Hope Lodge, wherein the low-rise, four-storied built mass overlooks a central healing garden court which is flanked by communal spaces along glass corridors. These spaces facilitate the patients to be engulfed in the greens and other biophilic elements around, which in turn also facilitate growth, help keep their spirits up as well as nourish their general well-being. The large openings ensure that ample light filters through; that coupled with the sense of being within nature gives one a sense of rejuvenation and optimism that are key in helping them heal and generate energy. 

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Communal spaces overlooking biophilic elements_©www.perkinswill.com

The green central garden court has an attractive trellis atop, which comprises a simple yet interesting mesh of white metal plates and rods inscribed with large openings that cast varied shadow patterns throughout the day. The Hope Lodge also houses common living and dining rooms, a game room, a fitness centre as well, and a Chapel, among other facilities. Special care and emphasis were laid on the construction material used to ensure it was healthy and natural. To ensure that even the basic necessities of the patients and their family members/caregivers were looked after; they also installed advanced mechanical and water filtration systems to ensure a healthy and regulated environment.

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Spaces looking outward_©www.perkinswill.com
A view of the Lodge from the central garden court_©www.perkinswill.com

Perkins and Wills, staying true to their core values and principles, have helped build Hope Lodge, where people come in with a lot of hope and faith are enabled by giving the right tools and resources. Designing places that help and serve humanity, spaces with meaning, architecture that ensures inclusivity, and a strong sense of communal bond are important aspects of their core values, and they have succeeded in bettering the society in not just one but multiple ways.

It is spaces like this that make one understand the importance and relevance of contributing to society and ensuring that we, as architects, are creating environments that are thoughtfully designed, are meant to include and facilitate, and crafted to fit into our existing urban fabric seamlessly.

References:

  1. (2022). Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation American Cancer Society, Hope Lodge. [online]. Available at: www.perkinswill.com [Accessed date: 23/02/2022].
Author

An architect with a multicultural background and a creative nerd; she is a stickler for perfectionism and all things intricate. She believes in doing work that gives her happiness, fulfillment and creative satisfaction over anything else. When she is not working, you can find her cat-napping in sunny places around the house, dreaming of sea-side vacations and admiring starry night skies.

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