Studio showcases concepts for healthcare design, research center

Student-designed concepts imagining the future of health facility design education and research at Texas A&M University and the facilities to house those initiatives were showcased at the Langford Architecture Center in an April 25 public review.

The seven design proposals created by two-student teams included facilities to house the Department of Architecture’s Architecture-for-Health design studio and the College of Architecture’s Center for Health Systems and Design — two units that significantly advance healthcare design initiatives at Texas A&M.

Some teams' solutions envisioned an expanded curriculum in healthcare design, partnering the College of Architecture with the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health in interdisciplinary programs offering professional degrees such as a Master of Architecture in Health Facility Design and a doctorate in public health.

Other teams proposed an ambitious, multidisciplinary center involving a wide variety of disciplines, including medicine, nursing, health care administration, and health-related programs in industrial design, finance, interior design, and biomedical, industrial, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering.

In addition to a College Station campus location, team proposals included satellite facilities in Houston, adjacent to the Texas Medical Center; in Detroit, to deal directly with inner-city healthcare issues, in Costa Rica, focused on ecological health concerns; and in the upscale planned community of Los Colinas, a suburb of Dallas. Another proposal called for a satellite facilities adjacent to regional offices of the World Health Organization in Manila, New Delhi, Cairo, Brazzaville, Copenhagen and Washington, D.C.

“An environment encouraging collaboration among disciplines was deemed essential to the students' solutions,” said George J. Mann, the architecture professor who’s led the Department of Architecture’s Architecture-for-Health studio since 1966. “Learning resource centers, telecommunications and multimedia for communicating across the globe, seminar rooms, studios, model building shops, permanent and rotating exhibit areas, health food restaurants, and housing for visiting scholars and their families were all proposed.”

The students’ concepts also called for creative landscaping, outdoor gardens, walking paths and room for future expansion.

In addition to designing the facilities to house the imagined “Interdisciplinary Architecture-for-Health Research and Design Center,” the students were also tasked to develop business and staffing plans, cost estimates for the new facility and proposals for nongovernmental funding.

Since its founding, the Architecture-for-Health studio at Texas A&M has provided health-oriented design solutions for more than 700 projects worldwide. Many of the studio’s former students are now healthcare design leaders who direct design and planning for architecture and construction firms around the world.

Mann is the Ronald L. Skaggs, FAIA & Joseph Sprague, FAIA Endowed Chair in Health Facilities Design.

posted April 24, 2012