Introducing Parkhill’s Innovation Lab

Category: Building Community

Written By: Kristen West

Date: May 11, 2020

Introducing Parkhill’s Innovation Lab cover image

Every day, someone at Parkhill has an idea that could improve how we serve the needs of our clients. In the best circumstances, these ideas are written down and saved for “when I get extra time.” Firm leadership recognized the need for creating a systemic process to collect and support these innovative ideas, and the Parkhill Innovation Lab was born. In November 2019, Parkhill’s Board of Directors agreed to set aside $200,000 to support industry-grade, innovative ideas from the brightest minds in the business – our own people! 

The Board appointed Former President Joe Rapier as the Director of Innovation to lead the initiative. He enlisted the help of about 20 diverse thought leaders from across the firm to develop the processes that became the Parkhill Innovation LAB. Their mission – to launch ideas through encouragement, funding, and support that Parkhill will adopt for the benefit of our clients and communities. 

Innovation is at the center of Parkhill’s mission of Building Community. Innovation drives us to be the best version of ourselves for our clients and communities. 

“Our industry is constantly changing but the rate of change seems to have accelerated over the last five or more years. The challenges and the solutions will be more complex, and our clients have high expectations of us and our industry,” Joe said. 

The story behind how the Innovation LAB came to be is deeply rooted in Parkhill’s values. It started when a small group of Parkhill employees began to hear exciting murmurs across the industry about then-new VR technology. Virtual reality creates three-dimensional simulations of an environment, allowing people to interact and engage with built environments without spilling any concrete. How the application of such a technology would impact Parkhill’s design workflow and client relations can well be imagined. 

One Parkhill employee saw the advantage of having this technology and paid for the goggles and computer out of his own pocket, learned to use it on his own time, and brought it to his team, using VR to help multiple clients visualize their projects and facilitate conversations. 

Parkhill leadership knew the company needed to support its employees in securing game-changing technologies like VR for the benefit of our clients and their projects in the future and put the corporate mechanisms in place to help these ideas succeed. From this idea came the Parkhill Innovation LAB. 

“We are very close to awarding the first innovation grants and I can now say we will accomplish many varying returns on the investment,” shared Joe.