Illinois & Wisconsin Chapter Hybrid Workshop

Posted By: Chris Rogan Education, News,

On March 31, COAA’s Illinois and Wisconsin chapters teamed up for a joint hybrid workshop that allowed for both in-person and virtual attendance.  In-person presenters and attendees gathered at the downtown Chicago offices of K&L Gates and were joined via WebX by one virtual panelist and 8-10 remote attendees.

The workshop was entitled “The Crisis May Finally Be Over . . . Now What?” and sought to consider lessons that healthcare and the design industry should have learned from the pandemic but possibly didn’t.

Chris Rogan (University of Illinois and COAA-IL President) and Patrick Rebholz (University of Wisconsin System and COAA-WI Programs Chair) kicked things off by briefly covering COAA news and recognizing event sponsors Clayco, Mortenson, Whiting-Turner, IMEG, and K&L Gates, along with annual “Flagship” sponsors of the COAA-WI chapter – FGM Architects, Findorff, and HGA.

Dr. Manny Hernandez – an emergency medicine physician with Penn State University and design professional – initiated the “Now What” discussion by sharing his candid thoughts on eight different points ranging from inequity, staffing, the misguided notion of striving for perfection, and waste.

Dr. Hernandez then moderated a panel discussion that included Eric Conley (Froedtert Health), Bill Fedun (CUNA Mutual Group), and Kevin Sheehan (University of Illinois @ Chicago).  Take-aways from Manny’s and the panel’s discussion included:

  1. We all need to rethink the approach to design to be adaptive to ever-changing conditions instead of looking for perfection ... Swiss army knives instead of Swiss pocket watches. Solving the next big challenge begins with understanding the real problem(s) we are trying to solve and aligning around how success will be defined.
  2. Old projects led to beautiful buildings and spaces for specialized needs, but when those needs or other circumstances change, we may find that we don’t have the manpower required to operate those spaces.
  3. During the pandemic, we had a “Great Resignation” of building industry professionals, which left a gap in the labor force in both the design and construction workforces. Replacing this displaced talent will take a long time or the industry will need to “do more with less.”  Also, there are seven generations of consumers while there are only four generations of design and construction professionals to draw from.
  4. Consider designing “wellness” centers or spaces into buildings to take care of your workforce.
  5. We need to incorporate resiliency into our buildings and challenge how “success” is defined and measured. This may not necessarily mean lower costs or shorter project durations.