Nigerians receive plan created by LAND students for medical city

Macharia Waruingi

In an effort to raise health care standards in Nigeria, which ranks seventh-highest in infant mortality among the world’s nations, Thompson & Grace Investments, a Nigerian oilfield services company, is preparing to build a world-class medical service and research city in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State, based on a master plan created by graduate landscape architecture students at Texas A&M.

Students gave the plan for Thompson & Grace Medical City to company executives during a Feb. 12, 2014 event in the Technical Reference Center. The presentation featured short talks by representatives from Thompson & Grace executives,  Texas A&M dignitaries, including interim president Dr. Mark Hussey,  and representatives from global financial institutions.

Thompson & Grace has contracted with Dallas-based HKS Inc., to begin realizing the student’s plan by designing the medical city hospitals.

The investment company is launching the project to address Nigeria’s severely inadequate health services, shortage of qualified health professionals and absence of a medical research infrastructure. In addition to its high infant mortality rate, life expectancy in Nigeria is 52 years, 17th lowest among the world’s nations, according to the World Bank.

The master plan for the 100-acre city, developed by graduate landscape architecture students Xue Li, Sinan Zhong, and Wenyan Ji and led by Chanam Lee, associate professor of landscape architecture, includes an 800-bed hospital, 200-bed children’s hospital, medical school and research institute.

It also includes buildings for office and residential use, an elementary school, an artisan village and conference center. Thompson & Grace is including these facilities in the project as to help develop Uyo’s economic and social infrastructure.

To develop the project’s design program and guiding principles, Lee and her students traveled to Uyo July 22-28, 2013, where they learned about the site’s physical characteristics and met with Thompson & Grace executives, Nigerian government officials and local health care professionals.

The developers envision the medical city as the future hub of a proposed network of primary care centers distributed throughout Akwa Ibom, an oil-producing state located in the resource-rich central African equatorial rain forest in southeast Nigeria.

In developing the master plan, which accommodates diverse modes of transportation, phased development and future expansion, students were assisted by native Nigerian Forster Ndubisi, head of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning.

As HKS architects get started on the medical city’s hospital designs, Texas A&M design students under the direction of George J. Mann, professor of architecture, will also work on design solutions for the project. The teaching collaboration

The partnership between Thompson & Grace and Texas A&M was initiated by Macharia Waruingi, a faculty research fellow at the university’s Center for Health Systems & Design and head of the Ustawi Research Institute, which advances the creation of products for health and human development with a focus on emerging economies and developing nations in Africa. As a CHSD fellow, Waruingi was in a unique position to match the investors’ needs with the health design expertise at the Texas A&M College of Architecture.

Heading a CHSD research project aimed at identifying health service needs in Akwa Ibon State, Waruingi was able to share his findings with Thompson & Grace and Lee’s landscape architecture students as they developed the medical city plan.

“We want to reach all the people with this facility,” said Waruingi, adding that Thompson and Grace aim to have the hospitals operating by 2017.

posted January 29, 2014