Business Monday

Perkins + Will designs for the future

From left: Pat Bosch, Jose Gelabert-Navia, Carlos Chiu, and Larry Kline, partners at Perkins + Will in Coral Gables.
From left: Pat Bosch, Jose Gelabert-Navia, Carlos Chiu, and Larry Kline, partners at Perkins + Will in Coral Gables.

Walk into the newest and largest hospital in Ghana and you will navigate naturally cooled breezeways and ventilated waiting areas. You will see panels that allow for rainwater harvesting and solar heating, and you will notice built-in technology to help doctors collaborate virtually with medical experts in other countries.

The design of the Ghana Ridge Hospital, the first LEED-certified healthcare project in Africa, is strategically progressive, yet uses the natural resources of the community. “It elevates the quality of healthcare to a fantastic level in terms of what’s available,” said Larry Kline, managing director of Perkins + Will’s Miami office.

When Perkins + Will, Miami designs a building, the result is more than a simple structure. The outcome ranges from a hospital that brings innovative medical care to an African country, to a school that incorporates new ways of learning, or a museum that uses forward thinking techniques to navigate visitors through.

“We’re fearless, we are bold, we are inquisitive, we are looking for new ways of doing things, said Patricia Bosch, design director. “Our designs are research-based and holistic. We will bring in biologists, artists, scientists, create think tanks and put the client in the middle of it.” Bosch said the firm looks to design buildings for the needs of the future, which requires asking the right questions and considering the big picture.

Along with a good mix of outside expertise, the collaboration between the varied services provided by Perkins + Will — architecture, interiors, urban planning and landscape design — factors into the lighting used, the energy efficiencies included and floor plans reimagined. The result: buildings that are more user friendly with the right proportions of light and scale.

At Ransom Everglades, one of Miami’s oldest private schools, Perkins + Will’s team is designing an expansion. The new structure will reflect a layout conducive for progressive teaching methods that incorporate new technology uses in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Many architect/design firms, such as Miami’s Arquitectonica, are associated with a distinct style, but not Perkins + Will. “We don’t have a defined style as a firm,” Kline said. “We look to the context, what is the size and purpose of the site, what is adjacent. We design from the inside out.”

The result is designs that are futuristic, yet practical for projects such as a six-story bed tower for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami and a new public hospital known as Jackson West in Doral. “We don’t do every type of building under the sun,” Kline said. “Rather we have a core competency we excel at.”

Medical facilities have become one of the firm’s areas of expertise. “Some firms don’t see it as great design opportunity, but we do,” Kline said. “We are creating healthcare facilities that elevate the quality of the patient experience, that bring daylight in and make lobbies more welcoming, that integrate landscaping into design with courtyards and other design opportunities.”

The firm recently won an award from the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for its innovative design for the largest women’s university in Saudi Arabia (Princess Nora University for Women).

Kline said what sets Perkins + Will apart — particularly in the eyes of millennials — is its commitment to social responsibility. The firm’s pro bono (no fees) work includes the design of the studio interior for Radio Lollipop at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami and the repurposing of a shed into a museum for the city of Miami Springs.

“Our firm takes complex challenges and distills them into solutions,” Kline said. “It’s the human interaction with the structure that is important to us.”

Company name: Perkins + Will, Miami


Office leaders: Managing director: Lawrence Kline; design director: Pat Bosch; director of operations: Carlos Chiu; regional director for Latin America: José Gelabert-Navia; interior design practice leader: Elina Cardet.

Launched: Founded in 1935 in Chicago, opened Coral Gables office in 1996. Its corporate structure is decentralized. As Kline wrote in an email: “The firm was founded in Chicago, but as we have grown over the years, the firm made a decision not to have a centralized corporate headquarters; rather we have corporate leaders across the offices. Our CEO lives in Atlanta, our CFO in San Francisco, etc.”

Also: The firm is called Perkins + Will, Miami “because we find Miami more inclusive as we are working in the City of Miami, Doral, Sunny Isles, Miami Beach, etc.,” wrote Kline in an email.

Annual revenue for the Coral Gables office: 2016: $11.8 million; 2015: $11.05 million; 2013: $7.16 million.

The difference: Firm follows the belief that design has the power to transform lives and enhance communities and create healthy, sustainable places to live, learn, work, play and heal.

Clients: Perkins + Will, Miami collaborates with clients in Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean, and worldwide to design hospitals, schools, corporate offices, research centers, laboratories, government buildings.

Local projects: More than $800 million in high-profile projects, including Hotel Victor, Miami Dade College Academic Support Center, Miami Beach City Hall Annex, a bed tower at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, and Florida International University’s Stempel Complex.

International projects: L’Oreal Research and Innovation Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Princess Nora University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Competitors: National and global firms for projects in healthcare, corporate office and higher education; local firms for government, hospitality and corporate office.

Number of employees. More than 2,300 firmwide; 55 in Miami

Offices: 26 offices worldwide, including Miami

Outside view: “The firm has a unique ability to employ a forward thinking approach and design in a way that is not stuck in a certain period of time like some other firms. The end result is a building that is ahead of its time but fits in with the surrounding area,” said Tom Mooney, director of planning for the city of Miami Beach.

Best decision ever: To have an integrated design practice that includes design, architecture, interiors landscape, planning and branding.

Strategy: Growing organically and through strategic acquisitions

Challenges: Maintaining a healthy balance between the public and private sectors and domestic and international clients. With ongoing projects in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, the firm still wants to remain connected to the local community.

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