Clockwork Architecture + Design

Local architect making mark on health care and around the country

Matt Smithmier - Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Kansas City, Mo.Doctor visits (and, even worse, hospital stays) are inherently stressful. However, health care providers are working with forward-thinking architecture and design firms to create physical sanctuaries that promote healing and reduce stress—giving treatments a much better chance to work.

Founded in 2005, Clockwork Architecture + Design has slowly been making a name for itself in this health care space by demonstrating the power of design to go beyond aesthetics. Capitalizing on the patient experience by incorporating access to daylight and natural elements – both of which have been scientifically correlated with better clinical outcomes – the Clockwork team has been able to create spaces that are both pleasing to the eye and healing to the body—offering a level of discovery and calm to the patient experience.

The team recently worked with Overland Park-based Infusion Express, which offers patient-centered IV therapy in private suites designed to make the process as comfortable and private as possible. The company has locations in the Kansas City, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia areas. And Clockwork’s Baltimore office recently completed the design and construction of a 15,000-square-foot outpatient clinic for the nationally recognized Children’s National Health System, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

“In lieu of one large waiting room, we designed several separate waiting areas to provide a more personal (and private) patient experience,” said Chester Bartels, principal at Clockwork. “We made sure to capitalize on the building’s large windows to capture as much daylight and view to the exterior as possible. Throughout the clinic, we also infused many natural wood and textured materials to cut down on the ‘institutional’ feel and to carry a personal experience through the patient’s journey, which is vital to the healing of young patients.”

These recent health care-related wins come on top of the firm’s accelerated growth in both the Kansas City and in the Baltimore/Mid-Atlantic markets. Recent projects in the Kansas City region include a new headquarters for local nonprofit Operation Breakthrough and a new hometown presence for GEICO. In the Baltimore market, the firm is designing an Olympic training center in Leesburg, Va., a new performing arts building for the Compass Rose Theater (a professional teaching theater in Annapolis, Md.) and the renovation of one of Baltimore’s historic piers on the inner harbor at Brown’s Wharf.

“It’s been a busy year for sure, but this kind of growth is the best type of business challenge to have,” said Christian Arnold, Clockwork’s founding principal. “We’re excited to expand both of our markets as we get the opportunity to work with many different types of clients to bring their vision to life.”

About Clockwork

At Clockwork Architecture + Design, we believe the art of listening and asking why is just as important as the art of design. We build buildings and wow-factor workspaces—but we also build relationships. We understand our clients and see their vision, and then infuse our imagination and creativity to transform their space. It’s all about communication and simplification—on schedule and on budget. It’s confidence without ego through a relentless – and fearless – pursuit of success for our clients. Learn more at


Patients reap the rewards of 'healing architecture'

Chris Jimenez - Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I know a hospital administrator who would repeatedly remind his employees, “We’re selling a service no one wants.” It was his way of reinforcing the importance of making every patient visit as comfortable as possible. Because – let’s face it – no one wants to go to the doctor. Ever.

Doctor visits (and, even worse, hospital stays) are inherently stressful—invasive tests and procedures, the discomfort of an illness, the worry about the bill. And stress is a destructive force. Even as we’re visiting the doctor to get better, our body is working against itself as it wrestles with anxiety and fear.

However, health care providers are learning more about how to enhance the power of the environment that surrounds the patient to better their experience. By working with forward-thinking architecture and design firms, these hospitals and clinics are creating physical sanctuaries that promote healing and reduce stress—giving treatments a much better chance to work.

Let the light shine in

Sunlight heals! Natural sunlight and a view to the outside are now playing a larger role in health care design.

The research has proven its power: One study from the Department of Neuropsychiatric Sciences at the University of Milan found that bipolar patients assigned to an east-facing room with access to bright, morning sunlight reduced their hospital stay by four days, as compared with patients in west-facing rooms. Another study looked at heart patients in the critical care unit. Those with rooms that overlooked sunny areas had a lower mortality rate than those with rooms that overlooked shadowed areas.

The benefits are not limited to sunlight, of course, as new advances in LED technology are demonstrating. Building Design + Construction reports:

“Although LED lighting usually gets attention as a money-saving, energy-saving strategy … it can also bring measurable improvements to a facility’s performance in terms of patient recovery times, patient experience, medical staff performance, and staff job satisfaction.”

Get back to nature

Even as our society becomes increasingly more technology-centered, we still inherently crave that basic connection to the natural world. While a sunny view is nice, a sunny view of a garden has a much more profound effect on healing than a sunny view of a brick wall or a rooftop covered in HVAC equipment. In fact, research from Roger Ulrich, director of the Center for Health Systems & Design at Texas A&M, has proven that just looking at certain aspects of the natural world can “significantly ameliorate stress within only five minutes or less.”

In addition, it turns out that pictures of nature and unexpected imagery are almost as good as the real thing. One study reported by Ulrich showed that, “Compared to patients assigned abstract pictures and control groups given no pictures, patients exposed to a nature view of water and trees [had] less anxiety and required fewer strong pain doses.”

Anne Stahl, one of our project designers, recently integrated a lively mural along the patient corridors of one of our health care projects. The art interacts with daylight, providing a calming experience of discovery and enjoyment.

More than just a pretty space

We were excited to bring many of these best practices to life with a recent project we worked on in Annapolis, Md. Children’s National Health System was relocating one of its clinics, and we partnered with their staff to create a truly one-of-a-kind environment for their pediatric patients.

Instead of one large waiting room, we designed several separate wait areas for a more personal (and private) experience. We made sure to include large windows to let in as much daylight (and views of nature) as possible. Throughout the clinic, we also infused many natural wood elements to cut down on the “institutional” feel and carry that connection with nature through the patient journey.

One of my favorite features is the furniture in the waiting areas, which I describe as “part furniture, part exploration.” The seating is comfortable for parents but allows kids to climb and explore—instead of just sitting in a chair and worrying.

Amy Goodwin, executive director of public relations and corporate communications for Children’s National, said the new space has been well-received by patients and their families:

“There’s beautiful art that’s colorful, exciting, very modern. The lighting is subtle and takes advantage of all the natural light, and it just has a very warm feel. It doesn’t feel like a clinical space. You can go there and get the best possible pediatric care; at the same time, you don’t feel like you’re in a hospital or a physician’s office.”

We’re excited to continue our work on even more projects that incorporate this type of “healing architecture.” All of us at Clockwork believe design is more than just an afterthought or matter of aesthetics, and whether it’s a corporate office space, residential apartment, bank or pediatric clinic, we love helping our clients create a space that just feels good.

Chester Bartels is a principal at Clockwork, an architecture + design firm ready to align with forward thinkers and progressive leaders. How has design improved the patient experience for you? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter @ClockworkAD.

Keep talent (and attract even more) through smart workplace design

Chris Jimenez - Thursday, December 07, 2017

Good salary? Sure. Health insurance, 401(k), some vacation days? Always nice to have.

How about a short commute and a vending machine with plenty of Cool Ranch Doritos? Sign me up.

But as important as all of these factors are to job satisfaction, it turns out that workplace design – the form and function of the physical space where you do your daily work – ranks close to the top for today’s employees and job-seekers. And smart companies are finally beginning to take note.

Although they’re far from extinct, I think we can all agree that the fluorescent wastelands and cubicle farms of decades past are as productivity-inhibiting as they are soul-sucking. Progressive business owners and executives are realizing the correlation between an attractive, functional, adaptable space and employee satisfaction.

A recent study from Hassel backed this up, showing that while salary is still the top driver for the attractiveness of a job at 45 percent, workplace culture (32 percent) and facilities (16 percent) round out the top three. And I can attest firsthand that workplace aesthetics can immediately impact the perception of potential talent; essentially, your company is immediately judged good or bad based on what candidates see around them at the interview.

Cultivate your culture

This does not mean companies should design just for the sake of design, but rather your workplace should reflect who you are as a company, and possibly who you want to become. The power comes from the ability to transform your space from a collection of walls and windows where work is done into an environment that’s a true expression of that work.

Clockwork recently worked with Scott Long Construction in the Washington, D.C., area to design a new headquarters for this 55-year-old, second-generation company. Previously working in a dim and segregated building, the company wanted a more collaborative environment with plenty of mixed-use spaces and areas to get together as a team. We incorporated raw materials found in construction and merged them with modern elements to create a design unique to their brand. And while the company had traditionally been modest, the new direction incorporated large splashes of color that not only paints a new company direction but invigorates employees and candidates alike.

John Scott, president and CEO, said he’s pleased by the impression it makes on clients as well as current and potential new employees.

“Employee development is a big focus for us, and Clockwork helped us choose how and where people would sit, the artwork in the space, how workspaces are oriented—all to facilitate better relationships among staff,” he said. “It truly transformed who we are.”

Adapt to accommodate

While I feel like I’m always reading another story about the impact of Millennials in the work force, the reality is most companies have a very diverse mix of ages and work styles all under one roof. Your workplace design should reflect this diversity and have the ability to cater to everyone. While Millennials, generally speaking, may crave more open work areas, one study showed the 45 to 54 age group ranked privacy as their top driver of productivity—which means adding some private work areas to balance your collaboration areas.

This kind of variety can be beneficial: A study by Steelcase found that when employees feel like they have more control in their work setting, they’re more engaged:

“The most highly engaged employees have greater flexibility … can move around the office easily, change postures and choose where they want to work in the office based on the tasks they need to do ... A key design principle for the workplace is to create a range of spaces – for groups and individuals, mobile and resident workers – and corresponding work policies that enable employees to make choices about the best ways to work.”

The beauty in this finding is that it only reinforces the culture aspect of the workspace. By providing an adaptable work environment and soliciting feedback from your employees about what matters to them, you create an internal culture of openness—one that proclaims that employees are valued and that change is not only welcome but seen as a positive.

It’s an exciting time to be in the architecture and design industry, to witness this next generation of the workplace. It shows how good design can be not only aesthetically pleasing but also productive for your business. Just one look at the recent “Coolest Office Spaces” competition in the Kansas City Business Journal and you’ll see some of the innovative ways our hometown businesses have created fun and productive work environments for their employees.

These companies get it—will yours?

Chris Jimenez is a principal at Clockwork, an architecture + design firm ready to align with forward thinkers and progressive leaders. How has design played a role in your employee satisfaction efforts? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter @ClockworkAD.

Clockwork in Affordable Housing News

Jenny Christenson - Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Smart and Beautiful: The Clockwork Home hits the market, proving that great design can be affordable.

Read all about it in the Spring 2016 issue of Affordable Housing News.

See full issue: 

Clockwork Awards

Santina Cessor - Monday, October 19, 2015

Clockwork is honored by the recent recognition for our thoughtful design. We have graciously been presented with two major design awards; The Moosehead Dover-Foxtrot Mill received 2015 statewide Historic Preservation Honor Award for Stewardship; Baxter Springs Senior Residences received the 2015 Ad Astra award for Excellence in Innovation and Community Development.

The Moosehead Manufacturing Company, with the support of the Town of Dover-Foxcroft requested our help to explore the redevelopment of its former mill site, located at 5 East Main Street. The property consists of 80,000 sf on approximately 1.5 acres.  It is bordered on the east and south by the Piscataquis River (with approximately 850’ of river frontage), Main Street to the north, and residential properties to the west.

The project leveraged historic tax credits and numerous other private and public funds to create a rich mixed use solution anchored by multi-family residential. The project is under construction and has become the anchor for a rejuvenation of town center.

Baxter Springs Senior Residences is a historic adaptive reuse project, converting the original Baxter Springs High School into 28 affordable apartments for adults 55 and older. The local Baxter community is delighted to have this historic building thoughtfully reimagined, carefully renovated and remain a prominent landmark in their community.  The facility opens this November and we are eager to see the response to its new residents.  

For Clockwork, it’s not about the award; it’s about measuring real metrics of the powerful impact good design has on communities.  We do not design for design sake; we design with the next 15-20 years in mind – understanding how our design will function successfully and influence community growth.

While it does not take an award to know our impact is positive, it is encouraging to know all the hard work we put into listening intently to our partners and being laser focused on design details, really does translate into successful projects. This is what design is all about! Thank you, to our communities for trusting Clockwork, we are so proud. 

Case Closed - Good Design Will Positively Impact Your Business

Santina Cessor - Thursday, September 10, 2015
The proof is in the pudding, in fact good design will positively impact your business - here is the proof. We are thrilled to see our law firm clients enhancing their brands and experiencing direct business results. 


Cerner Bear Institute Children's National Medical Center

Santina Cessor - Monday, August 17, 2015

Clockwork architect Chester Bartels guest lectured at Clockwork designed Bear Institute Innovation + Learning Center in Washington, D.C. on Friday August 14, 2015. The room was filled with Bear Institute Innovation executives and members all eager to kick off their workplace lecture series. 

Leadership Announcement - Todd Howard

Santina Cessor - Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Technical Director


Define and implement optimal project management processes and uniform standards to establish consistency in project delivery and BIM management. Oversee the in-house quality assurance/quality control process, facilitate training to improve knowledge of the staff and assist with project related issue management as needed. Ensure that proposed design solutions are adequately challenged and validated for their construct-ability and general compliance with relevant conditions, including but not limited to local codes, specified materials and budgets.


5.5 Years


"I'm looking forward to creating a culture of inspired technical excellence in the office and establishing a design rigor with standards and details that support and reinforce the overall vision of Clockwork projects."  

Project Portfolio:


Leadership Announcement - Daniel Umscheid

Santina Cessor - Thursday, May 21, 2015


Design Director, Clockwork A+D


Facilitate & Influence firm-wide creative efforts to promote design excellence and provide Design Leadership to empower Clockwork’s Award-Winning Designers to craft unique and meaningful design visions.


2 years 


"The Design Director role will allow me to continue to develop as a Designer, and afford opportunities to provide design leadership across the design studio. I look forward to strengthening relationships with our valued clients and collaborating with our growing team of award-winning designers to empower good design and help craft a vision for the work, and future, of Clockwork."

Project Portfolio:


Leadership Announcement - Chris Jimenez

Santina Cessor - Thursday, May 21, 2015


Principal, Clockwork A+D


Joining the leadership team at Clockwork with a focus on client service, while maintaining current responsibilities of project architect / project manager.


6 years 


"I am very excited for this next chapter at Clockwork, our team is stronger than ever. We look to continue growth in new markets while continuing to excel in areas of our expertise with a focus on client service"  

Project Portfolio: