Harrell Design + Build Team Donates Time and Talents to Design For a Difference & Transforms Mountain View’s Community Health & Awareness Council (CHAC)

Harrell Design + Build Design + Build CEO Ciro Giammona and General Manager/Senior Designer Lisa Sten volunteered their time and expertise to the Design for a Difference (DFAD) makeover of Mountain View’s Community Health & Awareness Council (CHAC). The nonprofit provides counseling and prevention services to children and families in Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Sunnyvale, and surrounding communities.

Backed by the International Design Guild, DFAD is spearheaded by Guild members throughout the United States and Canada who sponsor “community-based and design-driven” transformations for deserving charitable organizations. The North American spokesperson for DFAD is Mark Brunetz, interior designer, author, and Emmy-award-winning television host.

Fred Wee, Guild member and owner of Interiors & Textiles, was the facilitator for the CHAC project. Mr. Wee reached out to Lisa Sten of Harrell Design + Build, requesting that she serve as the project’s working professional, leading a diverse team of experienced, emerging, and student designers.

After visiting the CHAC location and speaking in-depth with Executive Director, Marsha Deslauriers and her staff, the DFAD team discovered the existing floor plan was cumbersome, confusing, and uninviting, all of which negatively affected employees productivity as well as the emotional wellbeing of CHAC clients.

“Although typical DFAD projects do not include construction, we knew that some creative space planning would vastly improve CHAC. Fred encouraged the team to think big,” said Lisa Sten.

In late 2016 and into 2017, Lisa Sten, and the core design team began to reimagine the entry, reception, “village well” (kitchen), and intern quiet spaces. The focus was on evidence-based design to transform the space into one that enhances quality of life. The scope of the project involved reconfiguring the space as well as painting, flooring, window treatments, furnishings, art, and landscaping.

In August 2018, CHAC temporarily vacated its space and the DFAD team got to work. Because of their advanced planning and a detailed schedule developed by Mr. Giammona, the 50+ person team, including six people from Harrell Design + Build, completed the project in nine days, a remodel that typically would take months to finish. 

The CHAC project was made possible by a generous monetary gift by LinkedIn as well as the donations and discounts offered by multiple companies, vendors, and tradespeople. Harrell Design + Build donated approximately hundreds of hours of personnel time during the lifespan of the redesign. In all, the project is estimated to have a market value of more than $350,000 and involved thousands of volunteer hours.

After the reveal of the redesign in August to CHAC staff, Executive Director Deslauriers had this to say about the makeover, “Folks coming into our agency need a warm, welcoming, inviting, peaceful, comfortable space. Having a space that has such dignity and such beauty for our clients is just remarkable.”

The Harrell Design + Build team is dedicated to being an active member of the community and works with local and national organizations. This was the first project with Design for a Difference. The Harrell Team plans to continue their involvement, participating in future DFAD endeavors.

“Once I understood the Design for a Difference movement, I was completely hooked and knew that I would be involved for years to come!” explains Lisa Sten.

Since 1985, Harrell Design + Build Design + Build has offered a full-service conception to construction remodeling concept. They are based in Palo Alto and have an office/showroom in Los Gatos.

Lisa Sten CID, UDCP
General Manager/Senior Designer
Harrell Design + Build
2284 Old Middlefield Way
Mountain View, CA 94043