Perkins and Will CEO Phil Harrison talks Schmidt Hammer Lassen and human-centred design

The qualitative aspects of space, the experiential aspects of space, the environmental aspects of space have just become that much more central to most client's missions. It's a fundamental shift.
– Phil Harrison

Following its acquisition by Perkins and Will (PW) early last year, Schmidt Hammer Lassen (SHL) has announced its expansion into North America. CLAD spoke to Phil Harrison, CEO of PW, to see what SHL can bring to one of the world's biggest architecture firms.

The acquisition was never simply a matter of asset gathering by PW – in SHL they saw a firm with both a similar philosophy and, as Harrison told us, the ability to render complicated ideas into space-making with "elegance and beauty".

"A lot of this comes out of the Danish ethos – they've been at it a long time – the ideas of democratic architecture and democratic space, the philosophy that space is for citizenry and that buildings serve a larger purpose than just the owner or the person that happens to occupy it at a certain point in time – so how people experience space."

By way of example, Harrison cites SHL's Dokk1 project in Aarhus, Denmark – a building that is in principle a library, but also a public square for the city, the place you go to get your passport and driving license, a pre-school for kids and an arts and culture venue.

"It transforms the idea of what a library can be," said Harrison.

The innate human-centredness of SHL's design will be something PW can draw on with the practices working alongside each other in New York and San Francisco studios – and for Harrison, who has led the company since 2006, it's a timely opportunity.

"Just in the last couple of years, I've seen a notable shift where most clients – or at least the clients we want to work with – are very focused on how buildings are used and experienced as the primary design driver."

"The qualitative aspects of space, the experiential aspects of space, the environmental aspects of space have just become that much more central to most client's missions. It's a fundamental shift."

For Harrison, this shift is manifested particularly well in his firm's work on the University of Cincinnati's Gardner Neuroscience Institute.

Through research at its Human Experience Lab, PW identified a way to optimise the quality of light being reflected from the centre's façade for the people with optical nerve damage that used the building, while still allowing for daylighting within the building.

Such research is the sort of thing SHL will now be able to access and build into its own work.

Although PW and SHL will continue to work separately on plenty of projects, they will also work together – with each taking the lead where appropriate – on certain projects, including an upcoming mixed-use development in Toronto and a mixed-use masterplan in Vancouver.

"Our inspiration is not to have a single style or a single methodology across the firm, or even a single voice, but a recognition that we're much richer and that we have greater excellence in our work if we embrace a notion of diversity," said Harrison.

"This goes for the people in our firm, our clients and the places in which we work – and a Danish voice in a diverse organisation in which you share certain core principles – but they are a different persona applying those principles – we think makes for a richer design conversation."

You can also read our interview with Sanne Wall-Gremstrup, managing director of Schmidt Hammer Lassen, in which she talks about human behaviour and data-driven design.

Perkins and Will  Schmidt Hammer Lassen 
Related stories
24 Jan 2018

Schmidt Hammer Lassen join Perkins+Will in strategic partnership

Following its acquisition by Perkins and Will (PW) early last year, Schmidt Hammer Lassen (SHL) has announced its expansion into North America. CLAD spoke to Phil Harrison, CEO of PW, to see what SHL can bring to one of the world's biggest architecture firms. The acquisition was never simply a matter of asset gathering by PW – in SHL they saw a firm with both a similar philosophy and, as
CLD,ARC,DES
Harrison has led Perkins and Will since 2006
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7579     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7579     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: Polin Group
Market leader in design, manufacturing and installation of waterslides and water leisure developments.
videos
BluGalaxy a Division of Blu Spas
Blu Spas
This animation showcases the beautiful concept design of BluGalaxy Spa.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
The hotel has just two floors above ground; the other 16 floors are below
Martin Jochman founded JADE+QA in 2013. He formerly worked for Atkins
"We didn’t want to put in any gimmicks. We wanted to create a building that’s inherently sustainable through passive sustainability"

When Martin Jochman set out to transform an old quarry into a luxury hotel, he faced some serious challenges

Profile: Daan Roosegaarde
"I want to demonstrate that creativity is our true capital as humans "

Rather than feeling fearful and helpless about the future, we must design a way out of the environmental problems we have created, argues the innovative Dutch designer, artist and inventor Daan Roosegaarde

Shawn Hausman and SHD principal Jessica Kimberley created the interiors
"We tried to take over in a friendly way"

The Standard’s first London hotel is bold, fun and full of surprising touches

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Elina Grigoriou
Elina Grigoriou
"Temperature, noise level and colour affect our stress levels. As designers we should be asking ourselves, how do these things match up?"

The London-based interior designer and wellness expert hopes her new book will help readers understand how to design with wellbeing in mind

Alcide Leali Jnr
"Wellness embraces the entire holiday experience"

The design of the newly-opened Lefay Resort and Spa Dolomitti in Italy aims to celebrate and protect its spectacular surroundings

The reception features a Karel Teige collage artwork
Tina Norden
"We have created an approach which is playful, provocative but also functional"

Conran and Partners’ Tina Norden on playing with colour at Prague’s newly redesigned Hotel Maximilian

features
José Almiñana
"We are committed to designing evocative landscapes informed by the best environmental science"

The Andropogon principal on pushing the boundaries of landscape design for the benefit of humans and nature

The waste-to-energy plant has a ski slope, hiking trails, an 85m climbing wall, restaurant and apres ski bar
"It was born from the sheer anxiety of having to submit something brilliant in a very short timescale"

How a moment of desperation led to BIG’s CopenHill, the clean power plant that’s doubling as a skiing and leisure destination. Magali Robathan speaks to the architects that made it happen

cladkit product news
LianTronics’ glasses-free 3D Star Trek LED screen attracts attention
Magali Robathan
LianTronics’ giant curved LED wall with stunning glasses-less 3D spaceship display effect has attracted many on the street of Chengdu, ...
Siminetti unveils first glimpses of Mother of Pearl decorative surfaces inspired by the four seasons
The new winter design is finished with naturally occurring hexagonal patterns found in snowflakes
Megan Whitby
Siminetti has collaborated with British designer Chrisanna London to create a luxury Mother of Pearl decorative surface range inspired by ...
Matteo Thun grows Allaperto collection with new suspended outdoor armchair
Megan Whitby
Allaperto, the lounge collection spawned by the partnership between design studios, Matteo Thun, Ethimo and Antonio Rodriguez, has been expanded ...
cladkit product news
ASPA International launches handheld UV-C light disinfection lamp
The compact plug-in product can be used easily in a commercial spa or domestic setting to disinfect surfaces with UV-C light
Megan Whitby
For over 30 years, ASPA International has designed and built high-quality spas for the hotel, health and wellness sectors. During ...
Móz Designs columns anchor the world’s largest indoor aquarium
The design of the columns was inspired by the sea
Magali Robathan
After a two-year renovation, Oakland-based metal experts Móz Designs have unveiled their inclusion in Georgia Aquarium’s new shark gallery. Located ...
Painting with Light pushes boundaries to create unforgettable visual concepts
The team combines lighting, video, sound and special effects, with scenic and architectural elements, to create unforgettable visual experiences
Megan Whitby
Belgium-based light and video design studio, Painting with Light, will translate the story of your location into a visual experience, ...
cladkit product news
Christie laser projectors power new Five Senses Bubble dome theatre
The dome aims to integrate technology with arts and culture
Magali Robathan
Christie® GS Series 1DLP® laser projectors are delivering vivid and lifelike visuals in a new dome theatre located in Xiong’an ...
Cosm unveils Experience Centre with ‘one of a kind’ LED dome
The new Experience Centre houses a 20m LED dome
Magali Robathan
Cosm, a global technology company that builds end-to-end solutions for immersive experiences, has unveiled its Experience Centre which houses a ...
Atelier Alain Ellouz launches handcrafted precious stone lighting collection
LYRA has a sleek, cylindrical design complete with an elegant brass dimming switch
Megan Whitby
LYRA, GAMA, MONA and ATHENA are the first pieces from designer Atelier Alain Ellouz’s new.édition collection of handcrafted stone lighting ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates