Architects, Brokers Bet Big on Healthcare Design

The pandemic has brought about a surge in demand for facilities that emphasize healthcare and wellness, prompting one local design firm to increase its offerings within those segments.

Newport Beach-based H. Hendy Associates has expanded its healthcare and wellness studio for clients in and outside of Orange County.

Veteran healthcare interior architect Kong Nguyen has been tapped to head the studio, which currently includes about six H. ­Hendy employees. That headcount is expected to grow to 10 to 15 employees in the future.

“We’ve always had a healthcare component to our business with talented designers, so our goal is to improve upon that success with more of a focus within the sector as we see increased demand across the board,” Nguyen told the Business Journal.

Recently completed projects for the studio include a renovation of Easterseals Southern California’s 40,000-square-foot disability services center in Irvine and a revamp of Metagenics Inc.’s headquarters in Aliso Viejo.

“Clients are looking for new and improved spaces for both their patients and employees,” Nguyen said.


Healthy Demand

Wellness isn’t just top of mind for healthcare clients, with many employers looking to invest in healthier and lifestyle-focused spaces as the workforce returns.

“Property owners and managers have been incorporating health and wellness features into buildings for years, but COVID-19 has helped accelerate this trend and brought positive changes to the industry,” Newport Beach-based real estate investor KBS said in a blog post.

Nearly 90% of real estate owners and investors have seen increased demand for healthy buildings over the past two years, according to a global survey by the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative, the Center for Active Design and global real estate investment management adviser BentallGreenOak.

These healthier spaces include increased use of natural daylight and materials such as wood and stone; furniture like standing or treadmill desks; and different color schemes that have shown to reduce stress and increase productivity.

“It’s anything from air filtration to modern infrastructure to a more flexible layout that gets away from rigid design, and improves the experience for employees and patients,” Nguyen said.


Renovations Top of Mind

As the construction industry faces ongoing supply chain issues and inflation concerns, companies are choosing to renovate their spaces rather than build new ones, Nguyen notes.

“Clients want lower construction costs and a faster project timeline to avoid cost uncertainties,” Nguyen said.

These clients include top healthcare employers Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, City of Hope Orange County, Kaiser and Providence, as well as smaller, independent doctor offices.

“Everyone is looking to renovate their spaces to promote wellness and healing,” Nguyen said. “That demand is not slowing down.”


Active Development Sector

The healthcare sector has outperformed much of the commercial real estate industry over the past two years, with notable transaction volume and development projects in the works locally.

The largest healthcare project underway locally is the $1.3 billion UCI Health-Irvine medical complex on a 25-acre site on the north end of the University of California, Irvine campus.

The complex along Jamboree Road, will include a 144-bed, 350,000-square-foot acute care hospital with an emergency room that will open in 2025, along with the Joe C. Wen & Family Center for Advanced Care with primary and specialty health services, a Center for Children’s Health, and the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory Care building.

Elsewhere in the city at the Great Park Neighborhoods, City of Hope Orange County plans to unveil its new outpatient center for cancer research later this month.

The 190,000-square-foot Lennar Foundation Cancer Center will serve as City of Hope Orange County’s primary building for research and clinical trials.

Along with the Lennar-backed medical office facility, City of Hope is in the early stages of building a nearby 170,000-square-foot cancer hospital, the first of its type in Orange County.

That stand-alone facility is expected to open in 2025.

About 3 miles away from City of Hope’s project, Hoag is planning to add numerous new facilities on its Hoag Hospital Irvine campus, which opened in 2010.


C&W Acquisition

One of Orange County’s top property managers and commercial brokerages is getting in on the healthcare design market.

The Irvine office of Cushman & Wakefield announced last month it is expanding its healthcare project management services after acquiring La Palma-based Petra Integrated Construction Strategies LLC.

Cushman is adding an eight-member project management team and certain assets through its purchase of Petra, which designs, develops and manages healthcare facilities, predominately in California. Local clinics in Petra’s portfolio include St. Joseph Health locations in Irvine and Orange.

“This team from Petra has a unique ‘patient care focus’ within complex acute care and outpatient environments across both large and small healthcare systems,” said Brian Ungles, president of project and development services for the Americas at Cushman & Wakefield.

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