Get a Primer on Healthy Materials in Architecture from this Cutting-Edge Design Center
Perkins+Will, along with architecture/engineering firm Byce & Associates, used some simple strategies to make Newell Rubbermaid's corporate design center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a healthy place to work.
Elina Cardet, design director of interiors at Perkins+Will's Miami office, says that most 20th century building materials (steel, wood, glass, concrete) posed little health risk because they lacked synthetic materials (certain adhesives, PVC, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, etc.). Such materials can be carcinogenic as the human body has no way to neutralize their toxins. At the beginning of every project, Perkins+Will talks with the client to establish healthy materials goals. But what are the best ways to minimize health risks?
The center's other healthy materials include stained concrete floors and low VOC paints on the walls and steel structure. However, when it comes to sticking to the basics, in some cases "we need to balance that impulse with eco-friendly synthetics," says Cardet. For example, "The solid surfaces are synthetic but carefully engineered to be healthy and can be recycled."