[With Video] Living WELL: Designing a new home for hundreds with health at the heart

June 28, 2018

What does wellbeing look like in a multifamily resident project? Denver’s Lakehouse provides the answers


By John Yonushewski and Rachel Bannon-Godfrey

What does it mean to design places that are “good for people”? As designers, architects, and planners, we believe we have a responsibility to create spaces and places that have a positive impact—not just on the environment but also on the health and wellbeing of the people who use them.

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) has made our job easier by putting together a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being. The focus is on impact through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.



Over the past couple years, we’ve been working closely with the folks at Delos and IWBI on a pilot program to apply these concepts to a residential building project in Colorado.

We are aiming to make Lakehouse the first certified WELL multifamily residential building in Colorado.

Lakehouse is a mixed-use, for-sale residential building located in Block One of the St. Anthony’s Hospital redevelopment at the edge of Sloan’s Lake in Denver. The 12-story condominium project, which will contribute to the district’s LEED-ND certification, will occupy a full city block with townhomes, retail, and lobby spaces.


The Lakehouse project in Denver, Colorado, focuses on WELL Building Standards, including a rooftop vegetable garden.


Since we believe wellbeing can (and should) be an integral component of our built environment, we want to start dialogues about what that looks like in a residential project. Here’s a look at how Lakehouse will respond to each of the WELL Building Standards.

_q_tweetable:We believe wellbeing can (and should) be an integral component of our built environment._q_

Air: In-line filtration systems to filter outside air brought into units.

Water: For this project, we actually didn’t need to do much because the City of Denver’s water already meets the water quality thresholds of WELL. As an added feature, we’ve included bottle fill stations in key areas to encourage residents to use refillable bottles vs. single-use plastic bottles. It’s something simple, but small changes are important!

Nourishment: This concept is pretty cool. Our client is looking to partner with restaurant vendors who are aligned with the principles of healthy, local food. These restaurants could even potentially provide healthy food cooking classes to residents via the demonstration kitchen we’ve designed. Additionally, we are working with Agriburbia to install a managed rooftop vegetable garden on premises to provide residents with access to fresh, hyper-local produce. The Agriburbia vegetable garden is just one section of an extensive close to 10,000-square-foot planted amenity deck, which includes the pool, gardens, planters, and walking paths.


Key elements of Lakehouse are living spaces that bring the outdoors in and common areas that encourage socialization.


Light: The sun is the best source of circadian-friendly lighting and minimizes the energy use of electric lighting, so maximizing daylight is a win-win for mind, body, and environment. Our lighting team conducted extensive daylight modeling to optimize natural light in the building. The result is ample daylight during the day and blackout shades in each unit for nighttime, aligning with our natural circadian rhythms.

Fitness: In addition to having one of Denver’s best jogging paths right at its doorstep, the building itself is designed to encourage resident fitness. Gyms in residential buildings are nothing new, but Lakehouse takes the concept to the next level, orienting the fitness center with the best view of the lake to encourage all residents to enjoy it. The yoga room features floor-to-ceiling windows and even a simulated night sky for midnight or lakefront yoga. Additionally, an inviting three-story stair brings residents to the amenity level, promoting the use of stairs vs. the elevator.

Comfort: In addition to meeting all accessibility requirements, we’ve exceeded code requirements for sound separation between units (no one likes hearing their neighbors) and provided additional controls in the unit to help keep people comfortable.

Mind: As mentioned in the lighting section, a key contributor to a healthy mind is achieving a good night’s sleep. In addition to paying attention to daylight during the day, darkness at night, and offering a circadian lighting fixture upgrade package, we are also applying principles of biophilia. That’s where we directly and indirectly incorporate natural materials and patterns into the building’s design. For example, porcelain tile that looks like wood planking surrounds the pool and reclaimed naturally finished wood will line the lobby walls. Even the form of the 12-story tower is meant to evoke water flowing over stone.   


The Lakehouse project has an emphasis on applying principles of biophilia throughout.


In addition to supporting an active Colorado lifestyle through the amenities and location, a guidebook on the WELL Building Standard and the relevant features in the building and units will be provided to each resident. Additionally, a library of health and wellness material will be set up, and discussions are taking place about diving deeper into helping residents with personal health tracking and monitoring.

While this building is designed to provide the ultimate in comfort and amenities, our feeling at Stantec is that occupant wellbeing is something all projects can achieve.

Whether that’s a commercial office building, a transportation and maintenance facility, or a home, all people deserve a place that helps them be their best physically and mentally.


About the authors

John Yonushewski is a natural leader with 40 years of experience. He specializes in architect-led, single source project delivery on a range of large scale residential and adaptive reuse projects.

Rachel Bannon-Godfrey has more than 15 years of experience in the design, construction, and analysis of high-performance and net-zero energy buildings, along with energy efficient and renewable energy technologies. She is our sustainability team leader.

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