Monthly Archives: November 2012

Metropolis: A Culture of caring

The October 2012 issue of Metropolis Magazine includes an insightful article chronicling the unique considerations Western architecture firms must address when designing healthcare facilities for oversees markets. From the article:

For health-care designers working in far-flung regions, learning to patch the seams that split as  West meets East (and Middle East), is as important  as calculating volumes, systems, and energy loads.  In China, designers need to produce structures that integrate best-in-class Western technologies with time-tested traditional Chinese medicine. In India, developers want new hospitals to conform to the thousand-year-old practice of vastu shastra—the Hindu version of China’s feng shui. In the Islamic world, facility plans must include prayer and ablution rooms, along with gender-specific waiting areas.  And plans must be jiggered to ensure that not a single toilet in any facility faces Mecca.

Wish list: The Healing Presence of Art

Richard Cork ‘s The Healing Presence of Art, A History of Western Art in Hospitals, looks like an excellent publication, and the first of its kind. Published in March by Yale University Press, the publisher summarizes:

Fascinated by the astonishingly rich history of art in hospitals, the well-known critic and art historian Richard Cork has written a brilliant account of the subject. These works, which include masterpieces of Western art, have been produced from Renaissance Florence and Siena to the 20th century. Piero della Francesca made a painting for a hospital in Sansepolcro, as did Hans Memling in Bruges, Matthias Grünewald in Isenheim, El Greco in Toledo, Rembrandt in Amsterdam, William Hogarth in London, Vincent van Gogh in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, and Marc Chagall in Jerusalem.

The book’s sumptuous images offer a rich range of subjects, from Francisco Goya’s dramatic confrontations with suffering to Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s sublime, airborne celebrations of resurrection and heavenly ecstasy. Some, like Leonardo da Vinci’s incisive drawings, are based on uncompromising firsthand study of hospital patients. Others explore a redemptive world where Christ is born, orphans are rescued, and plague victims are given shelter. In this wide-ranging survey, Cork investigates how such artworks have been used to humanize hospitals, to alleviate their clinical bleakness, and to offer genuine, lasting pleasure to patients, staff, and visitors.

It is definitely going on my Christmas list.

“Nobody Goes to the Hospital for the View, but …”

Before

after

A small article in the New York Times last week highlighted a mural by Odili Donald Odita, recently painted on a drab wall at New-York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan.

The drab barrier – erected in 2010 a stone’s throw from patient rooms on the fourth and fifth floors to hide newer mechanical systems – presented such a dismal sight that nurses would avoid putting patients in those rooms. Whenever space became available, they would move patients from the west side, with the view of the plain wall, to the coveted east side, where light bounces off the waves of the East River and a steady stream of boat traffic passes Roosevelt Island.

The artist explains:

That unlike gallery browsers, patients would face his painting for hours and even days. He hoped someone staring at the complex shards might “allow the color to open up other ideas of possibilities or considerations of what might be going on in their life,” he said.