Project Update

Arbor Research Corporate HQ Project Progress

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By Thom Phillips, LEED AP - Vice President, Hobbs+Black Architects

Founded in 1997 and residing on two floors of the University of Michigan Credit Union Building, Arbor Research Collaborative for Health is a not-for-profit research organization that works with organizations around the world to explore advances in health care policy, medical payment systems and clinical treatment outcomes. While they enjoy a prime location in the city’s center, their business plan anticipated ongoing growth, so in early 2017 they retained Hobbs+Black to design their new two-story, 50,000-square-foot headquarters on a site east of the City. 

The project was off to a promising start with Arbor Research’s selection of a picturesque 16-acre farm field. The location and views were exceptional, from the low rolling hills, forested park to the east, and the million-square-foot Domino’s Office Park to the west. Modeling the site in SketchUp, we studied the topography and daylight, considering many options before positioning the building on the north third of the parcel. Rotating the plan from its north-south axis and holding the parking fields down to lower elevations, the building seemed to rise out of the prairie. That vision became a guiding planning concept as we positioned the future 40,000-square-foot addition to the south, extending its image into the field.

As an organization with an academic research culture, Arbor Research leadership enthusiastically supported a programming process that provided opportunities for everyone to express their ideas about their future home. During “town hall” style meetings, Hobbs+Black engaged staff in conversations about evolving work place design, timeless aesthetics of natural materials, expressions of corporate culture and sustainable design. Impressions were recorded over several weeks and once finalized, the Needs Assessment Report was issued in March 2017. The document formed the basis for the design, articulating Arbor Research’s vision for an energetic, collegiate environment that would support their unique form of collaborative research. The resulting floor plans feature a well considered composition of open team areas, project rooms, private offices, a town hall meeting room, work cafe, private phone rooms and conference spaces. 

The building form developed into an office interpretation unique to Arbor Research, helping to maximize the exceptional views and channel daylight into occupied spaces. Wall construction is a composition of economical, energy efficient, continuously insulated masonry cavity walls, insulated metal panels and high performance glass. Reflecting mechanical noise concerns expressed during programming, a sound slab below the large roof top units was included in the roof design. Otherwise, the building is constructed of conventional steel framing with enlarged foundations and columns along the south wall to accept the future addition. The elevators are machine room-less, hole-less hydraulic and the server room is a sophisticated space, economically designed to support the future phase expansion.

Following the May groundbreaking, the Construction Manager, JS Vig, brought the building vertical with steel in September with the goal of enclosing before winter. Stay tuned for more updates as construction continues.

1st LEED for Healthcare in Michigan

Yesterday, Sparrow Health System celebrated the LEED for Healthcare Certification of Sparrow Ionia Hospital. Our own Russ Hinkle, the project manager on this healthcare project, said a few words at the ceremony. Below is his speech which details some of the elements that lead to this LEED certification.

Thank you for the opportunity to be here and share in the celebration of this great recognition.  Hobbs+Black and Peter Basso have really enjoyed being part of this great team.  As other’s have said, LEED for Healthcare is a unique rating system and I would like to point out some of the interesting features in this building that you will not see in the typical LEED certified project.

Most consider water to be one of Michigan’s greatest resources and this building goes the extra mile to conserve water.   Besides the typical water saving bathroom fixtures and kitchen facets, this project also has water efficient ice machines.  The medical equipment in the building does not use any potable water for cooling.  There is no irrigation system; the plantings and grasses were selected to withstand those dry July’s we typically have.  We also installed metering within the water system and set up a plan for FM to monitor the water usage so that anything out of the ordinary can be discovered early on and corrected.

The other major healthcare aspect of this rating system relates to health buildings.  Our Team worked to reduce the use of “persistent bioaccumulative toxins” or PBTs from the building materials.  Light fixtures were selected that do not have any mercury.  The plumbing system was constructed with Lead-free and cadmium free products and design to prevent copper from leaching into the water.  Other materials such as paint and roofing materials are also lead and cadmium-free.

The new furniture purchased met criteria that heavy metals, PFC’s, and other questionable chemicals were not used and they also passed testing to make sure there was no offgasing.  

All of this is to say that of all places, healthcare facilities should be at the forefront of buildings that are health for the people in them and this building has been demonstrated to be a leader.

For more info on the project, please visit these links:
Hobbs+Black Project Info Page
West Michigan USGBC blog post
Ionia Sentinal-Standard article