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.

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: 

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. 


10 for 10

Santina Cessor - Friday, January 30, 2015

When we sat down at the kitchen table 10 years ago to start this adventure, we never imagined we'd be surrounded by such a diversely talented group of people.

To celebrate 10 stellar years we are paying it forward in 10 big ways. Join us as we support several local non-for-profits, making an impact in Kansas City.

You can follow our #10FOR10 campaign through social media; navigate our progress so far by clicking on the interactive photo below; get involved by visiting our non-for-profit websites, or, reach out to us directly. 

Intouch Solutions - Kansas City Headquarters

Santina Cessor - Monday, November 10, 2014

Another Happy Customer...

“The previous office was very spread out,” explains Chris Jimenez, architectural project manager. “The company had to grow around it, and it lacked the feeling of a branded space. That’s why we put our main focus on collaboration.”

Pump Up the Volume 1NE

Santina Cessor - Monday, August 04, 2014
Located in Westport, Volume 1NE is a perfect fit for the surrounding fashionable boutiques and local eateries. The store owner, Justin Ji, came to the drawing board full of inspiration and an eye for quality design, details, and functionality.   

Volume 1NE is about more than retail. Justin and his team love what they do and are inspired by their products. The only way to succeed in this space was to join Volume 1NE in their passion for the finer things. Clockwork studied countless diagrams in clothing construction to reincarnate those characteristics into the Volume 1NE pilot store. Some materials are continuous throughout, like the sole of a shoe, yet bands of wall construction and thin metal railing profiles harken to the stitching and supports integrated into every clothing item. Floor penetrations connect both floors of the space similar to voids and opening in clothes. 

To capture the owner’s passion for quality craftsmanship, we spent our time in the details of custom, well designed solutions throughout the space. Simplistic in design, the space features a hand charred cedar walls, oversized and wood clad pivot door, metal racks that span between pilasters, and movable racks to allow sales floor adjustments. The cash wrap is steel cased and armourcoat plastered with a glass presentation case. The Volume 1NE branding wall was CNC routed, tiled, and lit with LED strips. Connectivity is maintained between levels by a custom open stairwell featuring tempered glass guard panels and locally fabricated raw steel rails.

We designed the space to be ever evolving. The store concept and displays were planned based on analytics and sales strategies for future growth from a shoe store, to an overall clothing store. In its local surroundings, it provides an eccentric and modern push that Westport visitor’s value and desire.

Seyferth Blumenthal Harris

Jenny Christenson - Thursday, June 05, 2014

interior renovation in an existing office space...

Our relationship with Seyferth Blumenthal Harris (SBH) extends back 8 years to when we completed their previous office in a historically renovated structure.  The firm had grown significantly over the years and the design of the space remained of critical importance to the leadership team.

The challenge of the new space was to design a collaborative, efficient and attractive space that maximized their stellar views while holding true to the historical features of the building and provide a professional but slightly less formal layout.

The SBH leadership team sought an entry space that would instantly induce a state of calmness for their client’s upon arrival. To successfully achieve their vision, we were able to take full advantage of our diverse portfolio and draw inspiration from our hospitality projects across the globe.  The open collaborative space allows attorneys and support staff to come together and share ideas without having to reserve formal conference spaces. All of the finishes in the space were chosen to emphasize the firm’s culture, one of confidence but without pretense.

Acting as a trusted advisor, our team negotiated on behalf of SBH to ensure they received the highest quality possible at the lowest achievable cost. A simple exposed concrete floor and exposed ceilings through much of the circulation space allowed construction dollars to be spent where they could achieve the biggest impact.

“…we were able to take full advantage of our diverse portfolio and draw inspiration from our hospitality projects across the globe…”