Designing for health and resilience

Water Tower - Greenville SC - Johnston Design

Designing for wellness has been a key design driver from the beginning of The Water Tower visioning process.  Even before the current pandemic, we’ve known the health impact of the built environment in general and building interiors specifically.

The Well Building Institute first addressed this issue in 2014, developing a checklist that our design team uses as a reference for all of our work.  The Water Tower incorporates several features piloted by the Well Building Institute, for health and resilience during future pandemics.

Features inspired by the Well Building Institute


  • Low VOC finishes for interiors
  • Installation of passive radon ventilation (required by code for single family homes but not for apartments)
  • Passive fresh air design with ample operable windows in residential units
  • Emphasis on day-lit, attractive stairs for convenient vertical circulation, reducing elevator use


  • Water bottle fillers throughout common areas – instead of just in the fitness amenity


  • Maximized size and quantity of glazing
  • Building design incorporates glazing orientation and glare control with balconies, trellises, and canopies


  • Stairs designed to be the primary and most convenient form of vertical circulation through the building
  • Emphasis on expanded fitness amenities and bicycle commuting, as well as recreational bicycle use


  • Various outdoor amenity spaces, ranging from sunny to shaded, ground floor to upper floor and roof terrace, secluded and tranquil, secluded, and social and energizing.


  • Amenities to support pet owners, plus multiple yoga and meditation areas throughout the property

Additional features we’re exploring on all multifamily projects because of the coronavirus:

  • Increased capacity of common area HVAC fresh air makeup, to accept two times more than code outdoor air makeup, and/or increased air changes per hour (twice the code minimum)
  • HEPA filters for common area HVAC
  • Increased bandwidth for common area wifi, for work at home scenarios
  • Lobby furnishing design (especially co-work areas) to minimize airborne spread of contagion, such as high-back booths
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