Presented by: Mingming Zhao

Work-related stress is an issue of growing concern around the world (Tennant, 2001). The relationship between work stress and individuals’ psychological and physical health is well acknowledged (Leka, Griffiths and Cox, 2004). In the survey of “stress in the workplace” conducted by American Psychological Association in 2012, 41% of employed adults report that they typically feel stressed out during the workday (American Psychological Association, 2012). This percentage is up from 36% in 2011. Historically, Central Business Districts are a focal point of cities, and are occupied by a large group of office buildings and a number of retail spaces. However, in most cities, the design of Central Business Districts often cannot serve office workers very well. According to Elsbach and Bechky (2007), office workers regularly leave their offices in search of more relaxed, creative environments. Hence, focusing on the design of CBDs would positively impact health and wellness of office workers. However, most of the design research about CBDs has focused on the spaces in which people work during office hours. Consideration for office workers in the CBD after office hours is relatively rare. Hence, I will attempt to consider what else is needed to support the life of the office worker, and what kind of spaces they are looking for after hours. Several primary research methods will be adopted. First, survey researching on how the design of traditionally planned CBDs fails to support wellness of office workers. Then, examining what is needed to support the wellness of office workers. My methods will be reviewing a number of relative papers. In addition, in order to make it be specific to the office workers in the CBD of Richmond, I am going to adopt qualitative methodology including interviews and daily video records of the CBD condition, to approach the local living habits. In addition, analyzing the case studies of recently done CBDs that tackle this question. The Shibaura House, designed by Kazuyo Sejima, located in the business district of Tokyo in Japan, will be served as a primary referential project. There are three objectives in this research. First, designing a series of mixed-use spaces in an existing building in the Central Business District of Richmond to support the life of office workers after office hours. The site building is named Bank of America Center which is located in 1111 East Main Street in Richmond, Virginia. It also aims to improve wellness of the office workers in the CBD of Richmond, and try to define the CBD in a new way. The preliminary results for this research indicate the importance of the concern for office workers after hours. There is a necessity to focus on the practical effect of the mixed-use building on reducing work stress, improving office workers’ health and enhancing wellness of office workers. It could be an excellent resource for office workers. Moreover, the multi-functional building I am going to design could be a significant opportunity to impact the development of the CBD in Richmond in a new way.


  • American Psychological Association. (2012). Workplace Survey. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/phwa/workplace-survey.pdf
  • Elsbach, K. D., & Bechky, B. A. (2007). It's more than a desk: Working smarter through leveraged office design. California management review, 49(2), 80-101.
  • Leka, S., Griffiths, A., Cox, T. (2004). Work organization and stress. World Health Organization, 3. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/occupational_health/publications/stress/en/
  • Tennant, C. (2001). Work-related stress and depressive disorders. Journal of psychosomatic research, 51(5), 697-704.