Healthcare complex design nets top honor for graduate students

Kirk Hamilton

Texas A&M graduate students’ vision for the future of outpatient healthcare delivery earned first place in a Feb. 19 American Institute of Architecture design contest in Houston.

The students competed against counterparts from five other Texas universities at a healthcare seminar held at the Texas Medical Center by AIA Houston Chapter’s Committee on Architecture for Health.

Students were asked to create a design that responds to increased demand for primary care resulting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a trend that has healthcare providers reimagining they way they provide care.

With guidance from faculty adviser Kirk Hamilton, interim director of the Center for Health Systems and Design, and professional adviser Fernando Rodrigues, health and wellness director at Gensler, Texas A&M students created a mixed-use design for a 14-acre site at the southern edge of a proposed University of Texas at Austin Medical District — the current location of University Medical Center Brackenridge.

The student’s solution incorporates a primary care clinic, commercial and residential space, a wellness center for healthcare education, hotel and a parking garage.

Their design’s signature feature is a series of wide pedestrian plazas and walkways providing ample connectivity between the primary care clinic, retail health facility and wellness center. Students included residential, recreational and small business spaces on the site, all of which are connected by pedestrian spaces.

“Before I first met with the team, they had already determined that connectivity was the ‘name of the game,’” said Rodrigues.

The design allows room for the pedestrian areas, in part, by removing the main Brackenridge building, but retains the hospital’s ancillary buildings for healthcare, commercial and other uses.

The students’ design incorporates wide swaths of pedestrian space that bridge busy downtown streets, providing safe, convenient access other nearby destinations, including a park and the eastern edge of the Texas Capitol complex, half a mile away.

“The team excelled with a convincing solution and a great presentation,” said Rodrigues.

Team members included Arsalan Gharaveis, the team’s leader and a Ph.D. Architecture student, Bardia Jahangiri, a Master of Science in Construction Management student, Shaghayegh Taheri, Tian Wang and Qianqian Zhang, Master of Architecture students.

“It was a terrific experience,” said Gharaveis. “I was delighted to be part of the team, and professor Hamilton helped a lot with the project.”

The team cooperated well, said Zhang, resulting in a strong effort.

A second first place award was presented to the student design team from the University of Houston. Students from Rice University earned an honorable mention.

posted February 27, 2015