Five on Friday: January 28th, 2022

HD Expo + Conference registration is now open, the Solow Gallery will finally welcome the public, and new construction products take an eco-friendly approach. All that and more in this week’s Five on Friday.

Building design’s role in treating mental illness

The outpatient lobby at the Ohana Center in Monterey, California; rendering courtesy of NBBJ

For decades, many mental health facilities were characterized by stark interiors and monochromatic color palettes. However, newly published research, according to the New York Times, reveals the positive or negative effects of surroundings on people’s mental health. Since the onset of the pandemic, demand for mental health treatment has increased, spurring the construction of new facilities and an opportunity to update interiors with warm tones and welcoming communal spaces. Exposure to nature, shown to lower cortisol levels, is of particular importance, inspiring facilities to add greenery inside and access to gardens or courtyards. Re-evaluating the status quo has also led to small changes. Taube Pavilion in California, for example, offers adjustable thermostats and dimmer switches on lights in rooms, a previously overlooked detail that could feel like a luxury for someone in care.


Solow Collection to open to the public for the first time

An Ivan Chermayeff sculpture stands outside the Solow Building at 9 West 57th Street; photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For more than 20 years, the Solow Art and Architecture Gallery on the ground floor of 9 West 57th Street in New York has contained a $500 million art collection with works by Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Owned by the late real estate developer Sheldon Solow, the controversial space has never allowed visitors inside, despite receiving tax breaks since it is classified as a museum. After Solow’s passing in 2020, his wife Mia Fonssagrives-Solow announced her intention to open the collection to the public. Artnet reports renovations are ongoing and the Solow Foundation will expand the galleries to the tower’s West 58th Street side before opening in 2023.


Googleplex architect warns of dangers of a posh office

A view of the Googleplex campus

Googleplex, Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California, opened in 2003 and set the standard for lavish office amenities. Stretching across two million square feet of buildings and 12 acres, it came with extravagant employee perks including fitness classes, massage rooms, and laundry services. Two decades after its opening, Googleplex’s architect Clive Wilkinson reflects on his groundbreaking creation during an interview with NPR and wonders if these types of benefits blur the line between work and non-work. “This notion that you can provide everything that would support a worker’s life on campus might appear to be extremely generous and supportive,” he says. “But it also has a whole range of potentially negative impacts. Work-life balance cannot be achieved by spending all your life on a work campus.” According to Wilkinson, the ideal office goes to neither extreme—a campus like Googleplex or an austere cubical farm—instead fashioned after a boutique hotel filled with couches and cozy nooks.


Innovative new building materials put the environment first

ByBlocks are made entirely from recycled plastic waste; photo courtesy of ByFusion Global

Sustainably made products continue to enter the market. But some companies are thinking from the ground up, creating innovative construction materials for more eco-friendly buildings. To support local ecology and combat the world’s declining bee population, Green&Blue has created bee bricks with openings for solitary bees to nest that are the same dimensions as regular bricks. The city of Brighton and Hove in England recently announced that all new buildings must include some bee bricks, Dezeen reports. Another innovative construction material is the ByBlock from startup ByFusion Global. The company turns non-recyclable plastic and ocean plastic into blocks more durable than concrete, writes Designboom. They can be used to manufacture entire buildings, are waterproof, and require no adhesives or glue.


Register today for HD Expo + Conference 2022

Registration is now open for HD Expo + Conference, April 26–28th, 2022 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The annual tradeshow will offer another year of inspirational conference sessions (more than 30 featuring 100 key industry professionals), networking opportunities (Party by the Pool makes it return to the Ăˆlia Beach Club at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas), show floor activations (all sessions will be held on the show floor in three exciting spaces, including the Social Hub, DesignWell Pavilion, and HD Park), and new product showcases (400-plus companies, with more signing on every day, will show off their latest and greatest). Visit for the full list of exhibitors and to stay up to date on the latest information. Register today!

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