Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Lobby Upgrade


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Can an office empower social impact?

This summer, MASS took on the redesign of the lobby at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program as a pro bono initiative to support one of our longtime partners. An incredible organization, BHCHP provides comprehensive healthcare for over 12,000 homeless individuals each year. With a small budget of $3,000-4,000, we set out to see if we could make the waiting experience more pleasant and dignifying for their patients. The lobby was settled on as the focus of our efforts because it serves as the first point of contact with patients, donors, and staff, and also doubles as a waiting room. Administrators expressed a desire for the lobby to serve as a welcoming place of respite for their patients. Initial interviews, however, revealed that patients experienced the lobby as gloomy, chaotic, and tense. Based on our research, design experience, and dozens of conversations with patients and staff, we chose a handful of targeted interventions––repainting the walls, replacing furniture, and adding plants and natural artwork––to create a more welcoming environment.

We also worked with BHCHP to refine their signage strategy, professionally printing the most important signs and migrating non-essential material to digital monitors. Several companies generously donated paint, rugs, and signage to support our efforts. On a Monday evening after work, the entire MASS team arrived at Boston Health Care for the Homeless. By the time patients and staff began arriving the next morning, the lobby was transformed.

Follow-up surveys found that the redesign had been a huge success. 89% of patients surveyed preferred the redesigned lobby over the previous one. Lobby satisfaction increased by 23%. Patients describe the new lobby as being quieter, brighter, more attractive, and more comfortable. 15% more patients feel that BHCHP is a welcoming place. More patients report that they would recommend the organization to a friend and 17% more respondents say that they would definitely return to BHCHP in the future. Staff report that the lobby feels safer and happier, and that their jobs are easier because the new space is easier to move around in. For us, these results confirm what we have long believed: a well-designed space can have a powerful, positive impact on human experience.

Project Details

42.3601, -71.0589

Location: Boston, MA, USA

Year: 2018

Status: Completed

Size: 4,800 sf.

Clients:
Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program