Announcing NeoCon 2017 Seminars

JUNE 12-14 at The Mart, Chicago

From June 12-14, NeoCon will draw more than 50,000 design professionals to The Mart in Chicago as it is known for being the benchmark event on the commercial interiors industry calendar. Connecting key players under one roof for three productive days, NeoCon is a powerful source of innovation–a launchpad not only for new products but for creative thinking and new ideas. NeoCon 2017’s diverse educational program brings forth themes, ideas and issues that influence the next big movements and shape the built environments of tomorrow. Presented by thought leaders from a range of disciplines, topics include “branding in hospitality design,” “the role of serendipity in the workplace,” and “empathy and design.” New for 2017, NeoCon is debuting “Icons @ NeoCon,” a special series of seminars headlined by four seasoned design and business experts: Lauren Rottet, Founding Principal and President of Rottet Studio; Cheryl Durst, Executive Vice President and CEO of IIDA; Carol Ross Barney, Founder and President of Ross Barney Architects; and Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871.

Monica DeBartolo, director of programming at NeoCon shows, comments, “This year’s educational program includes nearly 100 CEU accredited sessions, and explores what’s next in healthcare, hospitality, government, education, retail, the workplace, and beyond. The diverse offering will engage professionals from a wide range of fields and allow them to earn CEU credits across many different tracks. Beyond accreditation, we pride ourselves on offering programming that has broader applications. The 2017 program will deliver on the dynamic and multifaceted educational experience which attendees to NeoCon have come to expect.”

Here are a few highlights of some of the 2017 NeoCon educational sessions by day:

Monday, June 12:

2017 Icons @ NeoCon Series

9:30  – 10:30 am

Lauren Rottet

Lauren Rottet will discuss how office design is taking cues from the great hoteliers in designing comfortable, service-oriented workspaces for today’s office worker, client, and guest. In this special presentation, attendees will discover how the best hoteliers and hotel designers fine-tune every aspect of the design–from the overall plan to the private space and social shared space–to suit the needs of the customer while simultaneously creating a fun, relaxed environment. Rottet will reveal the design process, which involves conceptualizing and storytelling to set the right tone and paying attention to the minute details of design down to the uniforms, music, and scents—all in order to create guest comfort and satisfaction. She will also share examples of a number of hotels she has designed such as The Surrey on NYC’s Upper East Side (which has remained the No. 1 Hotel in New York City since she designed it 9 years ago), the St. Regis in Aspen, new properties recently completed for Four Seasons and underway with Conrad Hilton, and her work with award-winning Viking Cruises.  Attendees will walk away knowing how to captivate the employee and client from the moment they walk in the door–providing all their functional needs whilst making them feel welcome, comfortable, and special, and servicing them beyond what they have experienced in the corporate environment.
[Intermediate] [HOSP] [OF]
Lauren Rottet, FAIA, FIIDA, NCARB, Founding Principal and President of Rottet Studio

11 AM – NOON
By emphasizing empathy with clients, service design leads to a human-centered, as opposed to a product-centered approach. It encourages collaboration and understanding between designer and client, resulting in a more meaningful and holistic bond. In this seminar, the basic principles, competencies, virtues and touch-points of service design will be outlined using current design methods, so that designers can best empathize with clients. In describing the service design framework, the discussion will focus on the best processes and methods. Within this framework, the starting point to advance a service-based approach will be identified. Incorporating several case studies and proven industry methods, the session will summarize the mutual benefits for designers, as well as clients.
Christina Donaldson, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C, design strategist, Gensler, Dallas, TX.
Mike McKeown, strategy director, Gensler, Dallas, TX.

1 – 2 PM
While designers know the importance of going green, many in the field are less sure about how to make doing so the most beneficial for energy and human health. To understand how, this session will explore the method of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), particularly how its role in Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) and how EPDs can most successfully perform product comparisons. To elucidate further, this seminar will explore the future of sustainability with green building, especially in regard to energy and human health. Along the way, crucial concepts such as LCA, EPD and various green building benchmarks, and how they impact energy and human health will be identified. [Basic][GR][HSW]
Holley Henderson, LEED AP, founder, H2 Ecodesign, Atlanta, GA.

2:30 – 3:30 PM
In the new workplace, employees are used to responding to the ping factor. However, the incessant beckoning of technology leads workers away from efficiency, proficiency and the human factor—each other. To reverse this trend, this seminar will explore how to design a workplace based on humans, not technology; on movement, not sitting and waiting for the next ping; as well as on space and time devoted to building bonds with each other. Healthy, happy workers are the result, which in turn, boosts productivity. The session will show how to best accommodate a variety of work styles, diverse demographics and unique work culture. Attendees will be encouraged to identify and enlist key design elements and strategies that help employees engage with other, not just with their devices.
Pam Light, FIIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP, regional leader, workplace, HOK, Culver City, CA.
Brad Liebman, LEED GA, regional leader, workplace, HOK, St. Louis, MO.

Tuesday, June 13:

2017 Icons @ NeoCon Series
Livable Cities: The Role Urban Design and Architecture Play
9:30 – 10:30 AM

Carol Ross Barney

The elements that stitch a city together: schools, cultural institutions, public transportation, public spaces are what brings value to dense urban living. In this seminar, attendees will learn about the livability of cities through the design of essential infrastructure.  The audience will discover how urban rivers, ports and industrial spines can become economic, social, and environmental engines. Attendees will come away with a better understanding of the importance of urban density as a key to a sustainable future in the cities in which people live and play.
[Intermediate] [GR] [PS] [HSW]
Carol Ross Barney, FAIA, Ross Barney Architects, Chicago, IL

2017 Icons @ NeoCon Series

Cheryl Durst – Photo: Jeremy Witteveen,

Women are earning more, spending more and influencing all levels of the travel industry. This panel will focus on hospitality design for the 50 percent of the population that’s in charge of 80 percent of the travel decisions made today. Attendees will encounter examples of successful and creative solutions to items that are often overlooked, while learning how to design universal spaces that speak to this growing trend in the industry.  Topics will include design trends sought out by female travelers; unique solutions for hospitality design relating to various demographics; universal design considerations; and important technological advances.
Meg Prendergast, principal, The Gettys Group, Chicago, IL.
Cheryl Durst, IIDA, executive vice-president and CEO, Chicago, IL.
Mari Balestrazzi, vice president of design, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Chicago, IL

9:30 – 10:30 AM
As dynamic, open-plan office environments have become the norm, their one drawback has become clear – acoustic distraction and lack of acoustic privacy. The zeal for creating collaborative and innovation-driving workplaces has made it increasingly difficult for workers to focus and actually get work done! This seminar provides an overview of today’s workplace trends, together with space-planning and acoustic solutions that can mitigate distraction and increase both employee satisfaction and productivity.  Attendees will discover how to design a “soundscape” appropriate for a space; understand the science behind distraction, as well as how different generations and personality types respond and react; and leave with a variety of specific design solutions to address or avoid distraction in the workplace.
Sarah Springer, IIDA, LEED AP, design principal, interiors, Jacobs, Cambridge, MA.
Timothy Foulkes, FASA, INCE, principal consultant, Cavanaugh Tocci, Sudbury, MA.

1 – 2 PM
In today’s healthcare market, designers are expected to enhance brand recognition in addition to designing physical space. The session will home in on a recent successful case study: one of the first facilities in the country to use art and architecture to create a complete brand identity that carries through in all three locations, while maintaining a unique identity for each. The challenges and outcomes of brand creation for the project, both architecturally and artistically will be discussed. Attendees will find out how art and architecture can convey a client’s brand, organizational mission and values, They will also discover the challenges of incorporating a brand into architectural design, especially within the highly-regulated healthcare industry; identify how recent trends in healthcare design can impact an organization’s brand promise; and understand the concrete steps in the process of building a brand by utilizing architectural and artistic language.
Julie Robertson, IIDA, senior interior designer, HDR, Minneapolis, MN.
Alena Sakalouski, AIA, healthcare planner, women’s services leader, architect, HDR, Minneapolis, MN.

4 – 5 PM
Are interior/exterior plans with garden elements often integrated into projects from the first step?  They probably should be. This seminar presents the highlights of 40 years of projects and case studies to demonstrate how the proper attention to the exterior can augment and highlight a structure and its interior. Attendees will learn how having a cohesive integrated plan results in greater harmony and the overall success of a project. Attendees will also gain key insights on how the placement of garden elements such as containers, water features, arbors and custom paving contribute to a landscape’s mystery and allure. Ultimately, attendees will discover the importance of relating the landscape and garden to the interior and exterior of the accompanying structure.
Eric Groft, FASLA, principal, Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, Washington, DC.

Wednesday, June 14:

2017 Icons @ NeoCon Series

9:30 – 10:30 AM

Howard Tullman

This unique program offers attendees an up-close and personal presentation from a renowned expert in the arena of high tech start-ups.  Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, “where digital startups get their start,” will share the design challenges of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Tullman, the founder of more than a dozen high-tech companies and advisor to Chicago’s Mayor Emanuel, as well as dozens of innovative startup organizations and government entities, will discuss from his personal and professional experience the unique design needs of a high functioning tech hub and the various and distinct space requirements for a productive digital work environment
[Basic] [OF] [FT]
Howard Tullman, CEO, 1871, Chicago, IL

9:30 –  10:30 AM
The abiding challenge of designing the non-profit workplace is to keep overhead low while retaining a high return on investment. In fact, every dollar spent represents the non-profit’s investment in growing its organization and broadening its reach to the community it serves. Attendees will learn to translate this challenge into specific fiscal responsibilities, as well as discover how to seek out organizations that help provide non-profits with the right materials and furniture. This seminar will also address how to link the non-profit’s workplace to its brand and mission.
Jim Kales, CEO, Aspire, Hillside, IL.
Marc Adelman, AIA, CFM, CCS, principal, tvsdesign, Chicago, IL.
Jennifer Sobecki, CEO, Designs for Dignity, Chicago, IL.

1 – 2 PM
More than half of all firms on the Fortune 500 in the year 2000 were no longer on the list in 2016.  Clearly, success in today’s business environment demands an innovation-driven culture, one that’s highly resilient to the disruption that has become commonplace across multiple industries. Workplace design may be an organization’s greatest tool for driving the innovation culture that’s required to succeed. Research suggests that creating chance encounters between workers improves communication, breaks down silos, promotes cross-pollination of ideas and increases speed to market.  This seminar will explore workplace strategies that foster such environments. Attendees will understand the connection between the design of physical space and improvement in an organization’s ability to innovate; learn to identify workplace strategies that will increase engagement and cross-pollination of ideas; learn how to transform disruptive influences into opportunities for agility through design thinking; and gain insight on the advantages of engaging client teams in this interactive process.
Lise Newman, AIA, director, workplace practice, Smith Group JJR, Detroit MI.
Arnold Levin, principal, workplace, Smith Group JJR, Chicago, IL.

11 AM –  NOON
By definition and nature, educational environments tend to be large. What about spaces beyond the classroom, and what about un-utilized and neglected spaces? Wouldn’t these spaces allow for more student learning and creativity? Attendees will learn to identify underutilized spaces and to maximize the use of both existing and new environments. The session will also investigate campus trends in classroom and beyond-classroom uses, as well as cover how to select furnishings appropriate for varying spaces.
Daniela Voith, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, principal, Voith & Mactavish Architects, Philadelphia, PA.
Sennah Loftus, LEED AP, senior associate, Voith & Mactavish Architects, Philadelphia, PA.

The NeoCon 2017 website and complimentary online registration is open at On-site Registration: $35. Keynote Presentations: Free. CEU Seminar details and registration will go live on March 10. One-hour CEU Seminar: $60 each online by June 9; $70 each onsite.

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NeoCon® is a registered trademark of theMART, a Vornado Property.

theMART is owned by New York-based Vornado Realty Trust, a fully integrated, publicly traded, real estate investment trust (REIT) and one of the largest owners and managers of commercial real estate in the United States with a portfolio of over 45 million SF.