Left to right: Sharon Warner, CEO of WWI, and Suzanne Zahr Fleming, Principal of ZDS
By Jesse Oona Nickerson, LEED AP
On November 13th the ZDS project team was in Washington DC for an open house at the Washington Wellness Insitute (WWI). Family, friends, clients, and staff gathered to celebrate the project, and to meet the architect and her colleagues. May Zahr, the artist known as “Nanoo” attended the open house too. Her evocative abstract paintings beautifully complement the minimal space. 33% of the proceeds from her work are sent to The Center of Human Emergence-Middle East.
Left to right: Sharon Warner, CEO of WWI, and May Zahr, the artist known as “Nanoo”
It was an enjoyable and exciting night for all as Suzanne Zahr Fleming, armed with a glass of champagne, gave guided tours of the space explaining “what made the design green”. Suzanne wore a handmade wrap made from recycled materials by Seattle based fashion designer Luly Yang. There was much talk and celebration in a special place created by a unique set of people.
ZDS were the architects chosen to design this functional, beautiful, and eco-friendly medical office created by women for women. Washington Wellness Institute is a black enterprise that specializes in women’s health. From the get-go Sharon Warner, CEO of WWI and her husband, Christopher Warner MD created a company that approaches women’s health holistically while placing much care in the design and construction of a sustainable office.
The 3,300 square foot medical office is located on the third floor of an existing building. The design provides the clientele with a soothing, spa-like interior, which is enhanced by filtered light, texture and color. The program consists of the reception and waiting area, offices, a procedure room and recovery area, four exam rooms, and other back-of-house amenities.
An LCD panel seen from down the long hall, displays a changing logo and crisp visuals, which were also designed by ZDS. Clients are attracted through a glass box entry made up of transparent panels and a glass pivot door. The transparency allows views through the reception, the waiting area, and, also through the windows, to the canopy of trees lining the street below. Though the office is open and airy, a veiled sense of privacy is maintained as you move further into the more discreet areas of the practice.
Left to Right: Ashley Richardson, ZDS project manager, and Suzanne Zahr Fleming, Principal of ZDS
Within the design, spatial complexity is refined by a streamlined palate of materials and finishes. Broad strokes of texture and color organize the program and circulation. Reflective, transparent and opaque surfaces are used within the space to give a sense of elegance, contained richness, and contrast. The furniture and lighting punctuate the rooms as sculptural objects floating in a serene setting.
Natural light from the South and East occurs through translucent resin panel partitions, clear glass pivot doors, side lites and transoms. The offices along the South wall are pulled away from the perimeter to allow natural light and views to be shared. Lighting levels are lowered by darkened soffits to create more intimate spaces, as in the waiting area. Artificial lighting is carefully controlled to compliment the abundant natural light and results in a lighting package that is 25% more energy efficient than code requires.
By choosing ZDS, the Warners soon learned what it means to design and build a sustainable project. In fact WWI is a carbon neutral company that conserves energy by utilizing sustainable lighting, furniture, materials and equipment.