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CRE Opinion: Game-Changing Design with The User in Mind

Designing for healthcare facilities involves merging cost-effectiveness and doing what’s best for all involved parties.
By Tom Reisenbichler |
Tom Reisenbichler of Perkins+Will

While wanting to be healthy is nothing new, the way health and wellness are managed has evolved considerably. Patient-centered care with a more personalized focus on treatment of the whole person is resulting in improved patient outcomes and increased staff effectiveness and morale. This also helps administrators meet key safety goals, reduce costs, and increase market share.

As an example, UT Southwestern Medical Center opened its radiation oncology center in early April. The William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital Radiation Oncology Building—part of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and an outpatient clinic of William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital—is a three-story, 63,000-square-foot structure and the largest individual facility for radiation oncology in North Texas. Perkins+Will’s Dallas office provided master planning, architectural design, interior design and furniture, fixtures, and equipment services.

Intended to foster well-being, enhance comfort and safety in a patient-centered care system, the design streamlines workflow, adapts to technology and change, supports sustainability, and enables treatment accuracy through advancing technologies. In addition, the layout creates an environment of flexible spaces that accommodate the care teams with fewer walls and more shared spaces, improving productivity while facilitating focus, collaboration, and organized work.

Located on an elevated site offering views north to the UTSW campus, the expressive architecture pays homage to the consistent academic architecture of the existing campus while blending high-tech, comfort, technology, and warmth, satisfying both academia and patient expectations alike. The user experience is accented with warm interior materials, consistent daylighting and intentional views, and access to exterior gardens. Patients and staff alike can find solace, collaboration and comfort seamlessly throughout the facility.

Likewise, Baylor Scott & White Health—the largest not-for-profit health care system in Texas—together with the Dallas Cowboys, broke ground in 2016 on a game-changing facility that is located at The Star in Frisco, home of the new Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters.

Slated for completion in early 2018 and named Baylor Scott & White Sports Therapy & Research at The Star, the 300,000 square-foot campus is expected to become a nationally recognized model for the holistic treatment of physically active individuals, aimed to harness the best techniques in injury prevention, performance, recovery, education, and research. It is also a first-of-its kind collaboration between an NFL team, a health system, and a school district (Frisco Independent School District). Perkins+Will is leading the design of the sports performance, research, and wellness center.

The nine-story building will be a showcase of health and wellness on the 91-acre campus. In addition to outpatient physical therapy and rehabilitation, sports psychology and a brain injury program, sports nutrition, orthopedics, cardiology, surgery, urgent care, medical office space, and a pharmacy, the facility will house a street-level Sports Performance Center powered by Fusionetics that features an indoor/outdoor playing field, basketball court, and training, research, and rehabilitation areas. It will also have an imaging center developed in collaboration with General Electric (GE).

The design invokes a sense of strength, durability and precision—attributes of both the athletes who will seek treatment there and the sports physicians who will provide care there. The glass and metal building is designed to give patients clear views and easy access to the outdoors, as well as provide views to the activity within for the campus community.

Lastly, in a plan to provide the appropriate mix of diagnostic and treatment services, the University Health System of San Antonio approved design and planning for the construction of a new trauma tower at University Hospital. The Perkins+Will design, in conjunction with Garza/Bomberger & Associates and RVK Architects, included larger patient rooms and plenty of natural light. Design of the interior spaces and functional layout moves staff and patients in an efficient manner. The new hospital is twice as big as the old one.

Architecture does, indeed, affect emotional state. Patient-centered healing environments should facilitate compassionate and dignified human interactions, enhance comfort, and create spaces where families and friends of the patient are considered part of the care team. In doing so, this becomes the convergence of doing what is most cost effective with what is best for all parties involved.

Tom Reisenbichler is managing director of the Dallas and Austin offices of Perkins+Will, a global architecture and design firm.

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