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 Phillip Rollfing  

Evidence-based hospital design

Texas A&M Architecture students launch hospital design collaboration with fact-finding trip to Boca Raton, Fla.



Students and faculty from the Texas A&M University’s College of Architecture are cooperating with an international architecture and construction firm, HKS, Inc, to develop innovative, “evidence-based design” solutions for a new hospital in Boca Raton, Fla.

The 37 students, from three separate College of Architecture design studios, traveled to Florida in earlier this month to begin research for their designs proposals. Leading the combined Texas A&M effort are co-project directors George J. Mann, holder of the Skaggs-Sprague Endowed Chair in Health Facilities Design; Susan Rodiek, Ronald L. Skaggs Endowed Professor of Health Facilities Design; Joseph J. McGraw, architecture professor emeritus; and Kirk Hamilton, associate professor of architecture and interim director of the Center for Health Systems and Design.

The project’s unique objective, according to Mann, is designing a new facility from scratch based on the most recent “evidence-based design” research, with a special focus on safety issues.

An emerging trend in healthcare facility construction, “evidence-based design” involves design work that is informed by data from a variety of sources, including the best available information from credible research and project evaluations. The practice requires critical thinking to draw rational inferences about design from information that seldom fits a unique situation precisely.

The architecture students tackling the Boca Raton Community Hospital project will participate a series of public lectures and presentations on evidence-based design for healthcare facilities to be held at the College of Architecture. The lectures, focusing on hospital-related safety issues, will include presentations by recognized leaders in the field, including John Reiling, Roger Ulrich, Paul Barach, Debajyoti Patel and Kirk Hamilton. The students will be tasked to incorporate their new knowledge on evidence-based design in their design solutions, addressing safety-related issues like hospital-acquired infections, falls and medical mistakes, to name but a few.

During their fact-finding trip to Florida, the students toured area hospitals and visited the Boca Raton Community Hospital project site. They also met with Florida hospital officials and heard Rick Van Lith, the chief operating officer for the new hospital, share his vision for the new facility.

The students will work directly with designers from HKS, which has been an advisory teaching firm to the College of Architecture’s “architecture-for-health” initiative since 1973. The firm has been commissioned to undertake the design of the new Boca Raton Community Hospital.

Leading the design effort for HKS are Ronald L. Skaggs, chairman; Ralph Hawkins, CEO;  Craig Beale, executive vice president; Joe Sprague, senior vice president; Dan Noble, a principal of the firm and its director of design; Dave R. Vincent, associate principal; Marc Budaus, vice president; and Tom Stevens.

HKS officials will review the students’ design solutions on March 9 and the final student designs will be unveiled in a public presentation March 26 at the HKS headquarters in Dallas. A second, final presentation is also slated for April 25 at the Langford Architecture Center on the Texas A&M campus.


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Students and faculty from the A&M team in Boca Raton, Fla.