AIA Fellow to design prototype outpatient healthcare facility

Amy Kircher

Amy Kircher

With a 2011 fellowship from the American Institute of Architects, Amy Kircher, a Master of Architecture student at Texas A&M, will design a prototype outpatient healthcare facility based on her research that suggests a new direction for preventative care building design and a new way of thinking about healthcare architecture beyond treatment-only facilities.

Kircher earned the AIA’s Arthur N. Tuttle Jr. Graduate Fellowship in Health Facility Planning with a detailed research proposal, timeline and project budget.

There is a shift toward facilities that focus on outpatients, chronic disease care and patient wellness, she said. This shift, coupled with the emergence of a ‘patient-centric’ era of healthcare, will potentially require facilities that are highly accessible, decentralized from the main hospital and focused on education, she added.

“I will be developing a new model that addresses trends and issues in outpatient and chronic disease care,” she said. “I will also explore how this model creates new venues for patient and public education and staff collaboration.”

Her research will include visits to facilities with programs related to her topic, such as wellness centers and YMCA facilities, consultations with architects from five leading healthcare-focused firms, and an extensive review of related literature, including facility planning and patient, family and staff needs.

She will also incorporate her findings from a study of European healthcare facilities she is performing through the James E. Deininger Traveling Fellowship, awarded by Texas A&M’s College of Architecture.

Kircher will design the prototype for a facility in Portland, Oregon and also produce a written report, including benchmarks of U.S. and European facilities, prototype design guidelines, the design’s feasibility and its relationship to the current healthcare system.

Kirk Hamilton, professor of architecture, is chairing Kircher’s advising committee for the project; Mardelle Shepley, professor of architecture, and Jon Rodiek, professor of landscape architecture, are also on the committee.

The fellowship, named for Tuttle, a University of Oklahoma architecture professor who died in 2003, aims to:

  • Encourage young architects and students to enter the specialized field of hospital planning;
  • Increase architecture students' awareness of the special requirements and nature of healthcare facilities;
  • Attract talented young architects to this challenging area of professional practice, and
  • Advance the knowledge of planning and design for healthcare environments.

Since 1967, many Aggie design students have studied with funds from the fellowship, originally called the American Hospital Association/American Institute of Architects Fellowship in Health Facility Planning and Design.

In 2010, Erin Peavey was named a Tuttle fellow for her project “Designing for Interdisciplinary Communication & Collaboration on the Nursing Unit.”

To learn about the projects of Samira Pasha and Dyutima Jha, 2009’s Tuttle fellows from Texas A&M, and see a list of past Aggie Tuttle fellows, visit the College of Architecture’s website.

posted June 29, 2011