Faculty and graduate student researchers in the Texas A&M College of Architecture have developed a new method to calculate proposed health care facility space requirements that overcome significant limitations of previously established procedures.
Created with the input of healthcare practitioners, the new Area Calculation Method for Health Care brings much-needed standardization to the calculation process, said Kirk Hamilton, the Texas A&M Julie & Craig Beale Endowed Professor of Health Facility Design. Hamilton led an effort to create the new technique with Sarel Lavy, associate professor of construction science.
A new method was needed because neither of the two most commonly used models for measuring healthcare facility spaces includes calculations for the total area associated with a department — such as radiology or surgery — a category critical to hospital, clinic or medical school facility planners, said Hamilton.
Existing techniques also leave out typical building components such as stairs, elevators, and space dedicated to a structure’s mechanical or electrical services, he said.
“As a result of these limitations, consultants, designers and other users have adopted personal and idiosyncratic methods to build sophisticated calculation models that include net square footage, departmental gross square footage, and building gross square footage,” said Hamilton. “Health care project programmers use data from these methods with varying predictive accuracy and success, a practice that is an important concern especially because health care space is so expensive to build.”
The new procedure, endorsed for industrywide use by the American Society of Healthcare Engineering, includes step-by-step procedures for two versions of computer-aided design software.
Developed in a multiyear project that included graduate architecture students and funding from the Academy of Architecture for Health Foundation and other sources, the method includes measuring the proposed building’s entire gross square footage, its total square footage for each department and the net square footage of each individual room.
In addition to projecting space needs in future projects, the new method covers many scenario-specific considerations to calculate the size of individual health care departments, nurse work areas, and nondepartmental corridors, said Hamilton.