Connections to nature, community mark winning healthcare facility designs

The winning designs of this year's IIDA Healthcare International Design Competition share several characteristics, according to judges and other experts from the International Interior Design Association.

"The projects that stuck out were the ones with a great attention to detail yet with a design approach that was clear and powerful," juror Jennifer K. Kenson, principal and healthcare interior designer at Francis Cauffman in Philadelphia, said in an article in Healthcare Design magazine. "Details and concept were consistent throughout all of the spaces, from front door to patient treatment spaces."

Healthcare Design said the winning designs all demonstrated:

  • A sense of place, or what the magazine called feeling "of the community." University Medical Center New Orleans, winner of the Community/Academic/Teaching Hospitals category, was a prime example.
  • A connection to nature, both outdoors and in. Winning examples included the Palo Alto Medical Foundation's San Carlos Center in San Carlos, California, which topped the Medical Office Building Public Spaces category.
  • Respect for the community within--patients, staff, clinicians and visitors, and how each of those communities uses the space. One of the best examples was MedStar Georgetown University Hospital's pediatrics and OB/GYN suite in the District of Columbia, which won the Medical Practice Suites category.
  • "Wayfinding solutions" that go beyond signage and color schemes guiding patients and visitors to different departments. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Ambulatory Cancer Center in West Harrison, New York, won the Outpatient Clinics category as well as Best of Competition honors in part for using home-themed wayfinding solutions that provide "a high-end hospitality feel, but .. on the scale of home," one of the designers said in the article.

The art of healthcare design is a hot topic these days, with architects and designers striving to create patient-centered facilities that emphasize comfort, privacy and the ability to stay connected with family and friends, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Children's hospitals pose unique challenges as architects try to mesh permanence with playfulness in facilities whose patients often stay for long periods of treatment with their families at their side.

One reason hospital design is being buzzed about is the sheer volume of major construction projects around the country. One healthcare real estate research firm reports that $97 billion in hospital construction projects are underway, with more in planning stages.

To learn more:
- read the Healthcare Design article
- check out photos of winning designs