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DRH and the WELL Standard

Readers of reports, case studies and other posts at Design Resources for Homelessness will quickly see evidence of its human-centric orientation. The logic of this is clear when the special circumstances of persons who have lost their homes are considered: while some may be in a good and stable mental place, others suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, other mental conditions, or a well-founded fear of violence. Those that have lived on the streets may grow to adopt the attitude of passers-by that they are, indeed, worthless individuals. Compound this with the lack of income through job loss, deep stress felt for attendant children, and the too-often compound issues of substance dependency, poor physical health, and low self-esteem, it only makes sense that built environments geared to best help these persons must first and foremost take into account where they currently are, in the fullest sense of the psychological, physical and emotional word.

The WELL Building standard offered by the International Well Building Institute is an institution with closely aligning goals to that of Design Resources for Homelessness. This standard offers designers and project owners the opportunity to craft a built environment that places human wellness at the center of its decision-making. Its attendance to the holistic spectrum of physical, mental and emotional health mirrors the systemic needs of persons in deep crisis. As project lead for Design Resources for Homelessness, I sense that one of the WELL Building standards’ most  admirable accomplishments is to spring from a firm grounding in empirical research that spans multiple disciplines such as medicine, psychology, engineering, architecture and interior design. For the first time, we have a human-centered system that confronts the complexity and ‘messiness’ of what it is to be a human being with diverse needs. And it does so with an eye toward an iterative process that helps ensure its continuing positive evolution through future versions of the standard. It is for these and similar reasons that I became WELL accredited in the summer of 2018 through passage of the WELL exam, and then more recently became a WELL faculty member so that I can help others to pass the exam and spread the word farther.

If you’re interested in preparing to take the WELL exam, a helpful 1-day exam preparation workshop, organized by ASID and hosted by Teknion will be offered Tampa on February 7, 2018. I’m delighted to be the instructor for this event. Learn more about this and other locations.

-Jill Pable, Project Lead, Design Resources for Homelessness

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