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Patricia Bou, CannonDesign: The intersection of design, innovation, and collaboration

Patricia BouUIDP’s Community Partners are organizations and agencies that are not eligible for general membership, but whose mission and work are complementary to UIDP. They possess skills and tools that are relevant to the UIDP community and that boost our efforts to develop and disseminate strategies addressing common barriers to university-industry collaboration.

Community Partner CannonDesign is a global architecture firm focused on innovative design across health, education, business, and science. We recently spoke with Patricia Bou, co-director of CannonDesign’s Education Market, about the intersection of design, innovation, and collaborative partnerships.

UIDP: How does CannonDesign’s mission align with UIDP’s work to develop innovative approaches and solutions that support university-industry partnerships?

Bou: Our mission is to design solutions for the greatest challenges facing our clients and society. It’s our guiding principle culturally and has evolved to a mindset we call Living-Centered Design. I believe that Living-Centered Design aligns with UIDP’s principles of strength in convergence and partnership. By bringing thought leadership in healthcare, science and technology, education, research, and even the academic workplace into the design process, we’re creating solutions that are not pre-determined, but rather tailor-made to our clients’ needs.

UIDP: What does CannonDesign want to accomplish as a UIDP Community Partner?

Bou: We greatly appreciate our relationship with UIDP and the sincerity of the friendships we have with its leadership. We’re a relationship-built organization, which is another point of alignment with UIDP. As a Community Partner, the introductions and connections UIDP affords us and the intimacy of the UIDP community is important and something we hope to continue.

UIDP: Please share a particularly successful project or partnership story that relates to university-industry collaboration.

Bou: When CannonDesign has presented at UIDP conferences, regional meetings, or workshops, we focus on describing  physical environments that engender strong university-industry collaboration. This includes understanding and creating building spaces that provide collaboration zones while balancing the need for separate, protected spaces.

For example, at Johns Hopkins University, we’re designing a project for the applied physics laboratory that provides flexible laboratory and office space in a highly collaborative, open environment. We’re celebrating collaboration while at the same time creating spaces that develop and protect the research of more than 6,000 of the nation’s top scientists, engineers and technical specialists working on national security, science and engineering, and STEM education. The secure space is elegantly resolved, so researchers and academics don’t feel like they’re closed off from their community.

Another example is our work on the master planning for the redevelopment of the former teaching hospital at McGill University. Here the university—in dire need for additional space—was challenged by the government to develop an inspired strategy for redevelopment that would accommodate new and growing programs. The solution came from a university-wide competition that proposed bringing together two unrelated university programs—the sciences and public policy—with the intention that together they would be able to more successfully design solutions for pressing issues of society. Our planning re-envisioned transformation of the hospital, originally built in the 1880s and added on to five or six times over 150 years, into a new academic precinct for the sciences with libraries, academic instruction, workplace space to support public-private partnership, and research. It’s a physical environment that also celebrates a return to the site’s original open space that was intended for the Montreal public. What carries through is the idea of an innovation hub—instruction, research, and industry partners right on the McGill Campus—a concept that’s relevant to many in the UIDP membership.