professor George Mann entered college thinking he’d become a physician,
but he soon learned he preferred to “make things” with his
hands. Now he combines his two interests by specializing in designing
decision that has led to his appointment this month as to the
Ron Skaggs and Joseph Sprague Endowed Chair in Health Facilities
“As an architecture student at Columbia University, I
proposed a project to design a healthcare facility in India,” Mann
says. “All the other students were making models of houses,
so my request was a little out of the ordinary. But I just had
the instinct that I could really do something to help people
by improving the way hospitals and clinics are designed.”
his last year at Columbia, Mann wrote to 20 health ministers
all over the world looking for a real project to cap
his degree work. He received one response, from the minister
of health in New Delhi, inviting him to design a 600-bed hospital
in Imphal. Mann took that letter to his design- studio professor,
Edward Romieniec. But Romieniec had other ideas -- he planned
to have his whole class design a housing project for Rochester,
N.Y. Mann resisted, enlisted his classmates in pleading his
case, and Professor Romieniec relented.
Later, Romieniec became Texas
A&M’s architecture department
head and then the first dean of the College of Architecture.
Remembering Mann and his push to design the Indian hospital,
he invited him to come to Texas A&M in 1966, to initiate
a unique architecture for health program. Mann committed to
spending one year as an Aggie, but he’s still here after
about four decades.
Before his current appointment, Mann, an architect, was the
Ronald L. Skaggs Endowed Professor of Health Facilities Design
at Texas A&M’s College of Architecture. His instincts
have been proved correct by the more than 4,000 students he has
influenced over his 40-year career and by the contributions he
and his students have made to building better healthcare facilities – more
than 450 of them worth in excess of $3.5 million -- all over
the world. Two of those students were Ronald Skaggs and Joseph
Skaggs, a fellow of the American Institute of Architectures,
was a member of Mann’s very first class at Texas A&M
in 1966, and he became interested in designing healthcare facilities.
Skaggs now is chairman of HKS, one of the premier and among the
largest architectural firms in the world, with a significant
portion of its practice devoted to health facilities design.
Sprague, also an AIA fellow, is senior vice president and director
of health facilities at HKS. Sprague was in Mann’s fourth
class and received his masters of architecture from Texas A&M
in 1970. Partners who work closely together on health and hospital
facilities worldwide, both Skaggs and Sprague remain staunch
supporters of Texas A&M.
“The guiding research and educational philosophy of our
program here in health facilities design is to undertake actual
case study projects, with clients who have real needs, sites
and requirements and who are willing to work closely with the
College of Architecture,” Mann says. “This approach
has been highly successful, as witnessed by the hundreds of our
graduates who are involved in architecture for health across
the globe, as leaders of major firms, architecture professors,
hospital planning directors and members of government agencies.”
Students from all over the world come to Texas A&M to study
with Mann and his colleagues.
“Our program focuses very heavily on evidence-based design,
the results of which are shared with the design studios and design
students and influence their work greatly,” Mann says. “Evidence-based
practice involves using the results of research into what types
of design promote patient health and staff efficiencies and incorporating
those findings into actual building plans.”
Most recently, students in Mann’s classes have completed
proposed designs for facilities like
a women’s shelter for Hempstead; M.D. Anderson Cancer Center,
Houston; Hatfield Hospital, Hertfordshire, U.K; Mansfield Medical
Center, Mansfield; Project Mandy, a home for a student paralyzed
in a car accident, College Station and dozens of other facilities.
“Healthcare is continually evolving, and architecture
for health must adapt to the new environment and the new demands
this brings,” Mann says. “And healthcare facilities
themselves must be constructed to be adaptable to changes in
technology and in the social construction of healthcare delivery.
We can’t practice 21st century medicine in 19th century
facilities. Medicine is not going to stop, and neither is our
program – we will continue to prepare our students to positively
and innovatively impact healthcare design.
“The population of planet Earth will soar in the decades
ahead and healthcare needs and opportunities will be as numerous
as the stars in the sky!”