Monthly Archives: February 2012

HDR Evidence Based Design videos

Consulting and design firm HDR has an informative series of three videos tackling the basics of evidence based design in a lively and accessible way with a focus on specific applications of ideas in three different hospitals. The videos can’t be embedded in this blog, but click through to their website and have a peek. Their projects strive to give patients control through bedside remotes managing temperate and window-shades, minimize disruption in rooms by allowing staff to re-stock supplies from the outside hallway via a storage closet with doors to both the hallway and the room, as well reduce noise levels through design and simple interventions like requiring staff to keep their cell phones on vibrate. All in all it’s less than ten minutes of footage and a really nice introduction to practical applications of evidence based design from a more strategic planning perspective.


büro uebele: Offenbach Hospital

This cuckoo bananas wayfinding system by German design studio büro uebele visuelle kommunikation can be found in the Offenbach Hospital in Offenbach Germany. It’s a creative, bold, completely non-clinical approach that I imagine quite dominates the patient experience. In my opinion it seems a little conceptual, and a little cluttered to be totally effective in a large scale healthcare facility. Yet I’m always excited to see out-of-the box solutions to tricky elements of the healthcare experience, so I appreciate the bold whimsical patterns and unusual approach taken here. From the buro uebele project literature:

geometrical coloured patterns guide visitors to their destination and lighten the mood of this sterile setting. each of the numerous locations has its own combination of pattern and colour to set it apart, then each visitor can identify “their” colour and pattern that will guide them through the hospital complex.  the ward reception areas are identified by large areas of characteristically coloured, patterned wallpaper, with identical designs on the counters and doors. this visual coding gives these areas their own distinct identity. the system is based on a highly flexible concept that can be easily and quickly modified.


WRL: Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Expansion

Minimalists will take get great joy from this post about the Cleveland Clinic’s Hillcrest Hospital‘s expansion and renovation by architecture firm Westlake Reed Leskosky. The hospital, located in Ohio, has about 500 beds, with 72 of them located in the newly built tower, which includes two dozen NICU rooms, as well as general inpatient beds. Healthcare Building Ideas writer  Jennifer Kovacs Silvis recently took a tour of the facility and noted:

Looking more like an art museum than a traditional healthcare setting, yesterday I saw firsthand how white walls, floors, ceilings, and, yes, even furniture, create an environment that goes against what many support as the proven best methods of healthcare design. What I found on our tours were very minimalistic interiors complemented by a standout art program that showcases commissioned works right alongside prints of infamous classics… And it’s silent. From sound-absorbing ceiling panels to offset the hard surface floors to systems running without any noticeable buzz, patients and staff alike are left with a soothing environment absent of distraction, a place where they can focus and be reflective on the medical situations at hand. Reed jokingly called it “un-architecture”—the firm’s simplification of the building design. But it’s really quite the opposite.

From the looks of these images, she’s spot-on. It’s an unusually simple space, with crispy simple art and tons of white, but it’s a breath of fresh air when viewed next to bright and busy linoleum floors and pattered upholstery. As for that art, the most noteworthy commission was for Catherine Opie’s series of photographic large-format photographs of Lake Erie in four seasons. The moody and luminous series was created specifically for the 100-foot concourse of the new tower. It’s a far cry from Opie’s political, challenging gender focused work she’s best known for – but it’s an excellent example of how an artist you’d never imagine including in a healthcare environment can create the perfect piece for one. There’s a nice review of the series here at, and in an article from the Cleveland News-Helard, Opie says:

“For those from the area, this serves as a reminder of all that exists just outside the walls of Hillcrest Hospital — the entire world’s potential and natural beauty”

+Culture Shot Manchester

It’s always exciting to see mainstream, national media picking up stories about art and healthcare environments. Last week The Guardian profiled Culture Shots, a week long art and culture initiative at the Central Manchester NHS trust, aimed at healthcare professionals working within the trust. The museum led drop-in events, which took place at all five hospital sites in Manchester, were planned to fit around a busy working day and lasted between just one minute and thirty minutes. According to the Guardian, it’s the first time in the UK that a trust hosted a museums and galleries week within a hospital setting. Here’s the premise, taken straight from the Culture Shots website:

Cultural experiences can help improve health and wellbeing, and can result in benefits that range from the physiological to the emotional. From reduced heart rates and requests for analgesia, to a reduction in the sense of loneliness felt by those suffering from mental ill-health, cultural experiences have been proven to help improve the lives of patients and those who care for them. Cultural experiences have even been linked to longer life expectancy. Culture Shots, your chance to find out why culture works, and how you can use the expertise within Manchester’s museums and galleries to improve your professional practice, and your patients’ health and wellbeing. We think culture matters, and hope that by the end of the Museums and Galleries Week, you will too.

Mini-sessions included “Music in healthcare” “How can museum artifacts help patients” “People patients and portraits” “Artmed”  and plenty of guided tours of the hospital art collections. It’s a great way to get disparate stakeholders including clinicians, administrators, curators, and artists engaging with one another in an a way that’s both enjoyable and informative.

Manchester is a hotbed of arts, health, and culture work. I feel privileged to have completed my MA thesis research within the trust there at LIME arts (an organization also involved in organizing Culture Shots).  For more information about arts and health in Manchester, check out the MMU Arts and Health website.

Jim Hodges

I’ve just come across images of an incredible Jim Hodges show that was at the Gladstone Gallery in New York earlier this winter. Both the half shimmering/half rough hewn boulders and the scratched negative photographs of nature would be marvelous in a healthcare environment. A reference to nature doesn’t get much more literal or approachable than a giant rock or a photograph of a pretty sunset – but Hodges takes the grit of the rock and embellishes it beautiful with a jewel toned mirrored coating on one half, and takes the simple beauty of a sunset and roughs it up by scratching the negative. The result is soothing but engaging, precisely as the best healthcare art is. Here’s a snippet of the press release for the exhibit:

Hodges’ practice resists the definitional aims of discourse, instead offering multilayered works that evoke resonant themes such as identity, loss, mortality, and love. In this two-part exhibition, Hodges presents several new large-scale sculptural works that investigate notions of time, movement, color, and reflection… Merging the real with the imagined, a monumental grouping of sculptures seamlessly juxtaposes dense organic forms with interventions of synthetic beauty.

Fougeron Architecture for Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood MacArthur Health Center

With last week’s media spotlight on Planned Parenthood in light of the Komen Foundation attempting to pull funding from the organization, I’ve spent quite some time looking for an example of a thoughtful design for a Planned Parenthood clinic. It wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but it proved fruitful in the end when I discovered San Fransisco firm Fougeron Architecture’s work at two California clinics. Planned Parenthood is a unique client due to budgetary constraints and security concerns. As California Architects discusses in an article on the projects “it is an architecture, which lives in the political realm, it has to deal with real life issue of guns, bullet resistant materials, dangerous acids and young women being terrorized.”  Fougeron’s designs sway slightly to the “clinical” side of the healthcare design spectrum, and include necessities such as bulletproof glass and materials all around, doors that lock on closing, and panic buttons everywhere. All of this security is actually very low profile, and the overall effects are of those of dabbled natural light skimming over varied surfaces in a spirited, clean and contemporary environment. In an interview with The Architect’s Take, Anne Fougeron explains:

With the Planned Parenthood clinics, I didn’t want clinics that look like a prison. There’s already so much victimization of women… why punish them further by making them come to a jail for basic care? Ninety percent of Planned Parenthood’s business is providing basic gyn care – exams, pap smears – for women who can’t afford it any other way. These women already going through enough in their lives. Some of them already have other traumas to work through. The clinics should make them feel wanted and safe.

Eastmont Mall Planned Parenthood

Eastmont Mall Planned Parenthood

Cara Phillips: Singular Beauty

Brooklyn photographer Cara Phillips has embarked on a project to document clinical plastic surgery spaces. The resulting images are stark, clinical, and infused with a subtle sociocultural agenda, quietly commenting on the nature of elective aesthetic procedures. Together they will be published in a book, titled “Singular Beauty.” Publication has been successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign, and backers will receive either a PDF or a hard copy of the photo essay. Michael Paris Mazzeo, of Michael Mazzeo Projects explains:

Beauty stalks us with a condescending eye. From television screens to magazines, shop windows to billboards, there is hardly a face or figure that hasn’t been trimmed, polished, and reinvented to beleaguer us with an increasingly unattainable paradigm of physical beauty. In her savvy, new monograph, Cara Phillips explores the reassuring environments and ominous implements of cosmetic surgery. Singular Beauty provides us with a voyeuristic view into the pristine temples of physical transformation while offering an insightful critique of our culture of narcissism.

This is the first example I’ve come across of a contemporary artist pointedly engaging the latent connections between the built environment of healthcare and the societies that construct and occupy these spaces.