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Reimagining Rural Healthcare

Reimagine Story Cover

A conversation about the future of rural healthcare.

Don Peterson discusses the future of rural healthcare including the challenges, current realities, a view from the private industry and the right next step. Watch our short four-part video series and learn more.

Classical Music Revitalized the Soul of a Historic Kansas City Building

Webster House KC Symphony

There has always been a song in the Kansas City air. From the founding of the first Kansas City Symphony in 1911 through the birth of jazz in the 1920s, music has been at the heart of the city’s history.

Time passes and society changes, and so does the city and the melodies it plays. But the music remains a  constant thread connecting Kansas City over decades, across state lines, through hardship and  prosperity.

“It’s a reminder that while our future is unpredictable, our past holds the key to what keeps us together  … and there’s nothing like music to bring Kansas Citians together.”

So when the Kansas City Symphony began looking for a new headquarters to accommodate its  musicians, staff and the public, it took that thought to heart.

“Everything we do as the Kansas City Symphony is rooted in history and art and in relating what was to  what is,” said Danny Beckley, Executive Director of the Symphony.

  • That meant rather than raising an existing building to make room for something built to spec, the  organization prioritized finding a historic space and transforming it into something practical for today  and adaptable for whatever comes tomorrow.

And it only had to look out the windows of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts to find a new  home to fit that mission perfectly.

  • The historic Webster School, which most recently operated as an upscale restaurant and as retail space  shuttered by the pandemic, sits on the south lawn of the Kauffman Center and was waiting for new  occupants.

Beckley recognized the importance of working with architects and designers who shared a similar  commitment to honoring the city’s history while modernizing infrastructure to meet the needs of the  people who move within it.

We partnered with the Kansas City Symphony and Helix Architecture + Design to create just such an  environment within the Webster School, which dates to 1885 — originally the oldest structure in the  Kansas City public school district.

The former classrooms “really wouldn’t be conducive to anything more than bullpens, so we had to  think creatively about how to use this building,” said Alissa Wehmueller, Principal, Helix/Architecture +  Design.

“The team wanted to do “two things at once,” Wehmueller said. “Maintain the historic quality of the building [and] achieve the program and make it work for the symphony.”

“DIRTT walls became a really great solution,” said Beckley, to the question of how to incorporate private  offices without permanently adding any structure that didn’t feel authentic to the building.

DIRTT creates an environment that reflects a fusion between the ornate features of the Richardson  Romanesque building and the contemporary architecture of the Kauffman Center.

The glass DIRTT walls complement the Center’s iconic glass atrium and segment the building to make it  suitable for the symphony’s needs, without hiding its original features.

“They brought a polished, elevated feel to this space,” said Wehmueller.

That constant collaboration between the symphony, the building owner and their partners has given  new life to a historic building and a new home to Kansas City’s rich musical history.

“There is nowhere the symphony would rather be than in the Crossroads art district,” said Beckley.” — Beckley

“And to have them in a historic landmark? That makes it even better. The Webster School gives us the  ability to introduce people to what we do and to open our arms and say, ‘we’re for you, too.’”

Designing the Future into Today’s Office Environments

As the business world constantly moves forward, the main goals remain growth and expansion. Yet growth inflicts demands on a business’s technology, staff, and even physical environment.

To foster expansion, businesses require larger teams, up–to–date technology, and an ever growing and changing office environment. Our team can help cultivate office conditions that change with you and the evolution of technology.

Vantage Credit Union worked with us in the past on a couple other smaller projects using DIRTT wall systems. When they began to outgrow their physical environment, they knew it was time to expand their new headquarters and contacted our team with a desire for a working environment employees would enjoy—something fun, different, expansive, and inviting.

Vantage Space Infographic

New technology in prefab construction lends solutions to businesses. Using DIRTT wall systems, we crafted a custom working space of 20 offices, plus meeting, conference, and training rooms. Along the way, our team embedded wall technology where necessary.

The goal was to preserve the tall ceilings during the expansion. Despite the challenge, our team provided Vantage 13 feet of DIRTT walls. “We challenged them…they found a way to make all that work,” said John Hopkins, Chief Risk Officer at Vantage Credit Union.

Functional design makes doing the work of your business easier and more efficient while creating space for partnership. Now, the office designs are more cost and time effective. When the team at Vantage Credit Union saw their new headquarters, they were in awe of how quickly and masterfully a blank slate turned into an open and bright usable office environment.


Vantage Quote 1 Vantage Quote 2


Never has the demand of businesses been higher. We’re aiming to create meaningful working environments and offices that can help solve some of world’s biggest challenges. Let’s redefine office design and keep building strategically for tomorrow.




Changing Together: A Commercial Real Estate Conversation


As the world shifted all around us this past year, spaces and how we spend time inside them also shifted.

Flexibility is both the biggest challenge and greatest area for opportunity in commercial real estate.

In-person white board sessions moved to video conferences and water cooler conversations became non-existent. Retail spaces had to close their doors for months and restaurants ran food to customers’ cars or homes instead of inviting them in.

Commercial real estate is no stranger to change. Between market shifts, economic fluctuations, and tenant lease agreements, those in this industry have always felt the need to stay on their toes.


Over the years, they’ve had to ask the right questions and listen. How do people want to shop? What kind of environment do people want to live in? How has work changed? Enter ever-changing technology and needs that fluctuate even more.

So while no one could’ve planned for the changes over this past year, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that the path forward isn’t rigid or cold. The path forward is through agility and through a people-first approach.

“Most people feel like there’s always this pendulum swing. From never going back to work again, to back at work – collaborating and innovating” – Chad Stafford, President, Occidental Management

Changing Together - Leadership Quote

“Spaces are going to change. It requires more flexibility, and the ability to change those dynamics quickly.”

It requires asking good questions, listening, and partnering with those that care. It requires a real understanding of the impact the commercial real estate industry can make.

As people start moving towards more in-person white board sessions, quick chats at the water cooler about the weather, and enjoying meals inside their favorite restaurants, their needs and expectations will be different from what they were a year ago. And so will the needs of the tenants, owners, and managers of those in these spaces.

The spaces themselves may need to change, but one thing is always constant: there will be people inside them. And as long as those in this industry keep that at the top of their minds and at the forefront of any decisions they make towards change – we’re moving in the right direction.





A New, Modern Endodontic Practice in 65 Days

Valencia - Cover

“On top of the tight timeline, we really wanted a space that was different than your average dental office. We wanted to set ourselves apart from other practices…”



In 2018, Dr. Chad Wollard, and the team at Valencia Endodontics on the West Plaza of Kansas City, were faced with a very unique challenge: A lease renegotiation stalled, leaving approximately five months for the Valencia team to find a new space, communicate with their patients, and move their entire operation.

That’s when they engaged our team at Built, along with our partners at Urban Prairie Architectural Collaborative.

“By the time our plans were actually approved and finished, we had about 65 days to build the space out.”

“At that point, there were concrete floors in the space, open duct work, and electrical cords hanging from an unfinished ceiling,” Dr. Wollard recalled. “I was pretty nervous that we weren’t going to be able to meet the timeline. With traditional construction, there was no way we were going to meet that timeline.”

Fortunately for the Valencia practice, our team at Built, and Barrett Kroll, the architect from Urban Prairie, remained steadfast, calm, and guided Dr. Wollard through the process, ensuring all timelines would be met, and his team would be back up and running in the new space.

“On top of the tight timeline, we really wanted a space that was different than your average dental office. We wanted to set ourselves apart from other practices that just had drywall with paint on the walls. Having different textures and materials on the wall, with unique lighting and door spaces, Built had a lot of design options that really weren’t available through traditional construction,” said Dr. Wollard.

The team at Built was incredible, they’re perfectionists.

Even with taking a week off for the Christmas holiday, the combined teams finished the project, and seamlessly helped Valencia close their prior office on a Friday, and open in their new, modern space that next Monday.

“Closing down for an extended period of time was just not an option for us. We really had zero downtime. The team at Built was incredible, they’re perfectionists. All the walls and doors that you see in our space were put up in a span of three to four days,” Dr. Wollard added.

And now that they’re in the space, what has the experience been like?

“It makes me smile, really every morning when I walk in…it’s a crisp, clean look. Even after having this space for a year and a half, it looks brand new. The design aspect, the look and the feel, our patients absolutely love it, which puts a bigger smile on my face,” Dr. Wollard concluded.

Which naturally, makes us smile too.



Office Design for the New Workforce


Our workforce is changing. Baby boomers are retiring. Gen X are leaders. Millennials are growing up. And Generation Z is graduating. But what does all this mean to workplace design?

In this two-part series, we here at Built will let you in on the secrets to attracting and catering to the up-and-comers with your office interior. Today, Millennials (a.k.a. Generation Y).



Millennials are no longer the new folks on campus. Born between 1981 and 1995, Generation Y makes up 50% of the workforce. Six years from now, they’ll be the majority at 75%.

There’s high turnover among Millennials. Gallup research says 60% are open to new job opportunities and 21% have changed jobs in the last year (three times the number of non-millennials). But this isn’t necessarily because of the negative stereotypes that they’re entitled and difficult to please. Instead, Millennials are aspirational; they hope to lend their talents and passions to make the world a better place. They prioritize experiences and are technology pioneers.

For all of these reasons, we’ve seen office design transform from lifeless grey “Office-Space”-like cubicles to Google “wonderlands” where anything is possible. The challenge of making interiors both aesthetically amazing and highly functional is one we’re tackling every day.

Google Sydney
Google, Sydney Office

Showcase your culture + purpose

When Millennials look for work, they prioritize purpose. Ideally, their employer’s values align with their own. At minimum, they seek out companies whose vision speaks to meaning. Bottom line: millennials want to feel like they’re part of something that has a positive impact.

One Calgary-based tech company – where purpose is at the heart of their culture and their work – designed bold, colorful graphics with inspirational messages and printed them directly on DIRTT walls. Here, the walls do triple duty: they bring the space to life and make it fun to be in; an ever-present reminder to employees and visitors of the company’s why; and they accomplish their more ho-hum space-separating duty too with the option for future flexibility.

Mariner Holdings in Kansas celebrated their culture with a massive mural on their DIRTT walls. An employee-wide competition invited people to design something that represented the company and the winner became a focal point for the office.

Designing around your values can be a subtle way to make a big impact. GM Financial Service Center in Texas designed their office to show how much they care about how their employees feel at work. Breakout spaces incorporate timber, art glass, and comfortable seating. Cozy banquettes in the café overlook treetops through huge windows. Punches of bright colour make the space vibrant and fun. All of these touches invite employees to feel at home, at work.

Embed experience into your design

Most millennials value experiences. A study by Harris Group found that 78% of millennials would rather spend money on a memorable experience than on things. Spending on live events, eating out and travel is on the rise according to McKinsey.  When design is done right, spaces can create experiences for people in their daily work environment too. DIRTT opted for a slide instead of the stairs.

“We incorporate Java Centres or kitchenettes with a great coffee machine and coffee bar that brings coffee culture into the office,” says Tori Cnuddle, DIRTT interior designer. These spaces give employees a place to dip out of their work and chat, refuel or take a much-needed break.

An experience can be something beautiful or unexpected. Interesting shapes, colours, building materials, ceiling pitches and swings all transform this meeting room into something far more than a place to meet. It’s comfortable, interesting and creative: the kind of place where fresh ideas are born.

Keep your open concept office acoustically sound

Traditional top-down design has largely been shirked for open concept offices. Millennials don’t want to lead from a corner office. But working from the hive presents its own challenges, like noise.

“Acoustics are super important in an open office,” says Tori, who takes noise into account for all of her designs. That can mean making an enclosed space sound proof with soft floors, double or triple insulation in the walls and sealed doors.

In common spaces, bespoke ceilings, which, like all DIRTT solutions, are beautiful (any design you want) and practical (sound absorbent). DIRTT’s Micro Perforated Tiles have a 75% noise reduction coefficient (NRC), which means they absorb 75% of the sound that strikes them. How? Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) baffle is combined with a micro-perforated surface and an acoustic fabric backing. The acoustic needs of every space are different; it all starts with a conversation to make sure you have the speech privacy you need in balance with your budget.

Bespoke Ceiling at DIRTT HQ
Bespoke Ceiling at DIRTT HQ

It makes sense that millennials want the same intuitive technology at their fingertips at work that they use in all other aspects of their life. Brett Allen is an architectural technologist who leads DIRTT’s integrated technology team. “We’re not only integrating interactivity,” says Brett. “The biggest challenge for new technology is adoption. We want to keep it familiar, like the things people use at home, so they’ll know how to use it at work.”

That can mean empowering your company to turn existing TV screens into multi-touch screens using Displax film – a capacitive touch technology. Or embedding smart speakers throughout your office.

The team is always looking for ways to use technology in creative and unexpected ways. Like, replacing a static anatomy poster with an interactive touch screen that changes and adapts to the situation at hand.

Or (perhaps paradoxically) using technology to bring a touch of nature inside.

Millennials demand offices with flexible and functional design that inspires. For us, that demand is fundamental to the way we do things.

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