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Interview with Nate Holland – Design Innovation Director at NBBJ

Nate Holland is the Design Innovation Director at NBBJ – one of the Festival’s Gold Level Sponsors. Make sure to join NBBJ to participate in their festival-long virtual program, Urban Harmony Seattle  and create, listen and “view” the sounds of our neighborhoods.

Nate leads the integration of advanced digital workflows and human performance analysis into the design process. As part of the Design Performance Group, he builds custom tools for project teams to help them achieve higher levels of human and building performance.

His project work includes the computational design of the glass and steel shell of the Amazon Spheres project and the master planning of surrounding 3 block development. He also worked on the façade design for the REI headquarters, the Two Union lobby renovation, and the Rainier Square Tower in the Seattle area. He has master’s degrees in both architecture and business administration with a keen interest in all things digital.

Question (Q.): What is it About Time for in design?
Nate Holland (NH): It’s time for architecture to be about people and their experiences – including feelings of awe, joy, safety and comfort. Its about time for hospitals to be comfortable places of healing and wellness instead of sterile instruments of mass repetition. Its about time for places of work to be strategic assets that enhance the abilities of the workers and the quality of their communities. Its about time for community design to promote harmony between people.

Question (Q.):My favorite thing about my city is…
Nate Holland (NH): My favorite aspect about Seattle is its connection to nature – both plants and water. The size and quantity of parks and maturity of street trees makes our city ideal for walking meetings or a rejuvenating morning run. The view coming over the Ship Canal Bridge towards downtown is one of my favorite moments. The sailboats in Lake Union in front of downtown on a warm sunny day is truly an inspiring combination of natural and manmade beauty.

Question (Q.): Tell us about a project that you completed that you are most proud of.
Nate Holland (NH): The project I’m most proud of is the Amazon Spheres. The depth and complexity we were able to create in the modular steel and glass exoskeleton really excites me. The inherent logic and repeatability of the system combined with the fluidity and non-regular patterning of the structure makes it feel as alive and natural as the plants that call it home.

Question (Q.): What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work? What do you want to contribute?
Nate Holland (NH): My top priority as an architect and member of NBBJ’s Design Performance Group – which is a team of firmwide leaders focused on bringing greater transparency and performance to the built environment – is improving lives through design. I’m a data-driven decision maker, which is why I get excited about our focus on integrating peer reviewed research into the design process about how space effects people. The evidence clearly points to physical and behavior changes that can enhance creativity, productivity, job satisfaction, health, and wellness. After seeing the data, I tried to incorporate as many of them into my life as possible and have been amazed by the results. My goal is to equip designers with the knowledge and tools to integrate and measure these changes in their projects to improve the lives of the thousands of people who live in, work in or visit one of our projects.