Monthly Archives: October 2011

MAKER salon

It’s a hair salon, in Japan, but imagine if it were a waiting room in America! It looks like it would be a fairly simple and affordable build in an existing space – maybe with the exception of the curved wooden elements. This was designed by Japanese firm MAKER (no English version). Warm & organic the layout provides a variety of spaces for different kinds of interactions moods. The sheer curtains provide a safe space that at the same time allows for visual and sound connection to desk staff so waiting patents can easily be contacted and are reassured that someone is aware of their still-waiting status.

(via archdaily)


PHARMA at 41 Cooper Gallery at The Cooper Union

Opening Tuesday, November 1st at Cooper Union is an exhibit titled PHARMA, that shows shifts in the graphic identities designers establish to promote of pharmaceutical companies and products. From the press release:

“PHARMA will exhibit such themes as: emergence of avant-garde promotionals due to the proliferation of new miracle drugs, like Penicillin; the evolution of pharmaceutical marketing and the agencies that serviced the industry; the establishment of the FDA and regulation of drug marketing; how drug aesthetic’s pervasiveness prompts spoofs, is source material for artists, and allows for a new niche of products such as ‘cosmeceuticals’…The exhibition highlights a defining change, as the marketing of brand name drugs to the consumer marked a paradigm shift in medicine away from physicians and into the hands of pliable public opinion.”

The Atlantic: Design Thinking and Health

An interesting, albeit scattered, account of how Steve Jobs style “design thinking” can effect not only the physical experience of a patient within a healthcare environment, but also potentially increase patient compliance and radicalize research for cures.  An excerpt:

“While in some circles (radiating concentrically from Palo Alto, one imagines), design is, if not quite passé, at least associated with irrational exuberance and extravagant expectations (see this 2009 posting by Peter Merholz, founder of the user experience consultancy Adaptive Path, and the energetic dialog his remarks engendered), these principles have made only very preliminary inroads into medicine and healthcare.

For starters, medicine is far less “human-centered” — that is, patient-centered — than most observers appreciate. In the exact same way that well-intentioned engineers often go awry by creating features based on their own perception of what they perceive users must want, medicine has spent a lot of effort focused on a physician’s idea of a patient, rather than developing a more nuanced view of life from the perspective of the patients themselves.”

ALL CITY Health: Graffiti 207/Pediatrics 2000

In 2004, urban-art (graffiti) gallerist Hugo Martine and pediatrician Juan Tapia, MD teamed up to open ALL CITY, a one-of-a-kind graffiti art gallery pediatrician hybrid in New York City called Graffiti 207. Visuals and in-depth information on this is scarce but it’s too interesting to ignore so the e-sleuthing I’ve done will need to suffice. Nothing on the website appears to have been touched since 2009.  From the mission statement, we can glean ALL CITY is/was a:

“Network of artists, designers and medical practitioners to create and run coordinated arts and health programs in New York City. Our new initiative, ALL CITY Health: Healing Communities through Art and Medicine, will fully integrate art into pediatric practice to empower children and families to live healthier lives. ALL CITY Health will provide coordinated arts and medical programs that address the social challenges confronting at-risk urban youth and their families.”

The two founders spearheaded a two million dollar project to turn an old ballroom into an art gallery/pediatric care facility on 207th Steet that both served the needs of its community and strove to playfully fit its overall aesthetic. While ALL CITY Health in it’s original format seems to be defunct, Dr. Tapia’s pediatric practice, Pediatrics 2000, is definitely thriving with two locations and ten medical staff. One of these locations is still the ALL CITY facility on 207th Street. The front window of the waiting room is an urban playground of sorts, and each interior room has its own theme. Artists were given freedom do to as they pleased, but were told their creations couldn’t be aggressive or scary, according to a 2004 New York Times article on the project. The facility was designed to:

“Challenge of the traditional medical clinic design model. The clinic and gallery space boast a bold color palette, implementing graffiti art to transform the building into a vibrant state-of-the-art medical facility and tri-level art gallery” all the while striving to ” democratize art and challenge common perceptions of art appreciation as an activity exclusive to the wealthy”

It’s such an incredible, unique project I wish that it was better documented online and that there was a bit more information about where the relatively large budget came from (and why ALL CITY no longer appears to be active). Nevertheless its pretty inspiring that these two teamed up to create such a special health space for a community.

Two immersive environments

Here we have two exhibitions (both up right now!) that would translate beautifully into immerse environments for waiting rooms in healthcare facilities in my magical dream world where price and durability are not of any concern.

First up is “Islands” by Yutaka Sone at David Zwirner New York, which I had the pleasure of seeing in real life earlier this week:

And next up is Jorge Pardo at neugerriemschneider, Berlin:

Both feature stunningly colorful, unexpected juxtapositions between natural elements and cool contemporary features and would be an absolute pleasure to spend time in. They are challenging but playful, unusual but totally accessible.

Koolhaas/OMA for Maggie’s Center Glasgow

(images via Wallpaper)

Unveiled last week: a cancer support center nestled into Glasgow’s Gartnavel Hospital, designed by favorite starchitect’s Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architechture. Koolhaas, along with partner Ellen van Loon, created this  single-level building in the form of a ring of interlocking rooms surrounding an internal landscaped courtyard, to serve as the UK’s newest Maggie’s Center. Maggie’s center is a network of small-scale, comfortable environments where cancer patients and their friends and families can go to seek “emotional support and practical advice” in a friendly, non institutional space.

“The interlocking spaces contain a shared living room, library, kitchen, and dining area with private counseling rooms. Many of the rooms have sliding doors with access to the outdoors or face out onto the courtyard…The whole place is carefully curated to provide a less clinical experience not just for patients but also for their friends and family. ‘I think it should be a building where the space and the quality of the space and environment are the most important thing – Ellen van Loon.'” (via fastco design’s coverage of the new building)

The space still appears unfinished and sterile, but the connection to nature is unmistakably gorgeous and if Maggie’s Center’s previous projects with big league architects like Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid are any indication it will be cozy in no time. You can watch Mr. Koolhaas himself discuss the design process in the below video, filmed during Maggie’s Architecture and Health Symposium in 2010.


Andrew Small & Steven Almond Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital


Awesome Manchester UK arts and health organization Lime recently installed artists Andrew Small & Steven Almond‘s elegant, interactive interpretation of a giant beating heart in the entryway to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. An explanation of the theories behind the piece, from Andrew Small’s website:

“A hospital is more than just a building: it is a living machine and a machine for living. The work as a whole alludes to a simple, precious and fascinating human commonality: the beat of the heart. The work uses digital lighting, medical monitoring equipment and control devices that gives the work different aspects. At rest it breaths, interacted with it becomes a heart rate monitor and on the hour it is a clock.”

Lime has been overseeing the art program for Manchester Hospitals epic new build program, commissioning and selecting works for four brand new hospitals at a Central Manchester site – a new Children’s hospital, an Eye Hospital, a hospital for Adults and a hospital for Women. The colorful columns you see on the front of the building are also a Lime hallmark, designed by artist Ray Smith. Lime states that “The Arts Programme creates an inspiring and engaging hospital environment sensitive to patient needs and their care. It offers opportunities to embrace Manchester’s creative talent and connect with nationally respected artists enhancing the cultural map of the city.” The new heart sculpture is surely indicative of their continued dedication to innovative, site specific works.

(photo: Adam Bradley)

Open House New York

Anyone living in New York might want to consider checking out the two health-related open houses during the annual Open House New York weekend. It’s a two day extravaganza for built environment affianados in the city, allowing for rare glimpses into often off-limits spaces around the five Boroughs. This year offers sneak peaks into:

Farber Center for Radiation Oncology: A “a freestanding, private physician, radiation, oncology practice featuring state-of-the-art treatment in a spa-like setting” designed by Jeffrey Berman Architect.


The Bowery Residents’ Committee building: A 12 story building designed by TEK architects housing “residential and outpatient programs, providing substance abuse treatment, mental health care and transitional residential services, and central administrative offices” or, perhaps more simply stated by the Architect’s Newspaper, acts as a “328- bed homeless shelter.” This one requires a $5 reservation.

Rock Health on “What the heck is patient experience?”

Methodist Medical Center's (complex!) take on Patient Centered care

Rock Health “the seed accelerator for health start ups” is a San Fransisco non-profit dedicated to helping imaginative innovators bring fresh ideas and helpful new technologies to the healthcare landscape. Grantees receive $20,000 and a host of helpful resources and advice to make their dream project a reality. They have a great blog post up at the moment that playfully and thoroughly answers the question “what the heck is patient experience?” I highly recommend you read it here and check out their incubator program while you’re there.

First they state that over 60% of the 790 hospital executives surveyed in a poll last year  listed patient experience as one of their top 3 priorities. Next,  they go on to explain the top 10 elements of patient centered design (No surprise: number 7 is create a comfortable environment). Finally they link to a wide range of patient centered elements of healthcare including everything from a totally charming video of two elderly patients playing piano in the Mayo clinic lobby to Donna Karen designed hosptial gowns to taco trucks and farmer’s markets to the Cleveland Clinic’s Office of Patient Experience. The only thing missing: a link to some visual arts and health programming!

AECOM’s healing garden for Luther Midelfort – Mayo Health System

Architect Ellerbe Becket, a firm that works under the umbrella of Architecture/design/planning giant AECOM, designed a surreal  greenhouse style healing garden for the Luther Midelfort – Mayo Health System in Wisconson as part of an overall Critical Care Unit renovation. The details, from their website:

The Critical Care Unit includes 12 new beds for a total of 26 in 22,800 square feet (17,000 square feet of new construction and 5,800 square feet of renovation). Rooms in the expanded CCU are larger to accommodate family members who wish to be an active and involved part of the care process. The jewel of this project is the Healing Garden, an indoor garden with over 5,000 square feet of layers of green plantscape, filtered light and meandering paths.  The garden is located within the unit and can be accessed from other areas of the hospital. Several of the patient rooms have direct views into the garden. A meditation room within the Critical Care Unit is directly connected to a meditation area within the garden.

It’s quite a strange healing garden scheme, soaked in a  sort of Alice in Wonderlandy pastiche effect wherein nothing at all seems very natural about the space. With its strange rock tower fountain, mysterious baby grand piano, pale poured concrete floors, and dramatic spotlighting it’s hardly a space one might happen upon anywhere outside of corporate America. Nevertheless, it seems an effective, comforting centerpiece for the unit, that provides a whimsical multi-season alternative to a traditional lobby. Perhaps it will age with time to seem a bit more authentic? Until then, just look how downright lovely the tree shadow in the above photograph of a patient room is.

To gather additional information from advocates of Healing Gardens, you can visit the Therapeutic Landscapes Network website.

Greg Dunn’s beautiful Neurons

Artist and Neuroscience-PhD-in-training Greg Dunn paints sublime gold-leaf infused images of neurons that have already been commissioned by neuroscience departments at Carnegie Mellon and the University of California, San Diego. He explains his art:

I enjoy Asian art. I particularly love minimalist scroll and screen painting from the Edo period in Japan. I am also a fan of neuroscience. Therefore, it was a fine day when two of my passions came together upon the realization that the elegant forms of neurons (the cells that comprise your brain) can be painted expressively in the Asian sumi-e style. Neurons may be tiny in scale, but they posess the same beauty seen in traditional forms of the medium (trees, flowers, and animals).

His nature-like neurons would be both thought provoking and soothing in a healthcare space, particularly one having to do with neurology but I’d also LOVE to have one hanging in my apartment! This is always my goal with the blog, to find art that seems “right” for a healthcare space but that I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to hang at the foot of my own bed. Weirdly, while googling Greg’s work I noticed that the UK’s Daily News wrote about him just a few days ago.

(via medgadget)