As trees start to show their new growth, bulbs begin to peek their way up from the thawing winter ground, and daylight hours grow longer, signaling the end of the “gray season,” I feel a sense of rebirth. All organizations go through growing pains. Having been with The Center for Health Design for more than 16 years, I have been through many growing pains. During the past five and a half years, however, I have been at the “helm of the ship” and have felt those growing pains much more acutely. It's both exhilarating and humbling to oversee the building and growth of an organization.

I realized very early on that The Center is only part of a greater whole and, in order to thrive, we would need to forge partnerships. Organizations like Turner Construction Company, Medquest Communications (a division of Vendome Group, LLC), The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement have like-minded missions and complementary strengths to The Center. Each has played a significant role in our rebirth. Medquest has partnered with us to create this magazine that now reaches more than 34,000 readers throughout the world and to create the annual HEALTHCARE DESIGN conference where, this past November, more than 1,700 people came together to create a community. Turner is our partner in an executive program series that has been presented to more than 2,500 healthcare and design professionals in close to 40 cities. RWJF helped us to produce a research study that pulled together, categorized, and evaluated all of the known significant studies on evidence-based design. This report has been downloaded by more than 13,000 people since its release in September 2004.

Then there are the nearly 40 acute care, ambulatory care, and long-term care providers that have become Pebble Project partners. These are organizations that are either building new or remodeling their existing facilities, which have partnered with us to build a database of evidence-based design research, using their built environments as living design-research laboratories.

So what's next for The Center for Health Design? In December 2005, we published through Health Administration Press a new book, Improving Healthcare With Better Building Design. Written by professionals who have long been involved in The Center's work and edited by our Director of Communications Sara O. Marberry, this book explores how the design of the physical environment greatly influences patient satisfaction, employee performance, clinical outcomes, and operational efficiency. Using actual results from pioneering organizations, the contributing authors illustrate how evidence-based design can affect medical outcomes, safety, and the bottom line.

We continue to look for pioneering healthcare organizations at the forefront of design and culture change to join our research effort as Pebble Project partners, and we invite you to visit our Web site at http://www.healthdesign.org to explore and implement the current available research in the work you are doing.

Through a grant from RWJF, we are developing and launching an evidence-based design certification and accreditation program (EDAC) for professionals, and look to someday expand it to include actual built environments that have used the principles of evidence-based design in their culture and design. If you are interested in being a part of this forward-thinking group of volunteers currently developing the criteria and direction for EDAC, we welcome your input.

Also through funding by RWJF, we are developing some exciting new projects over the next 18 months to bring valuable learning tools to your fingertips. Look for in-depth, online Web tours of cutting-edge healthcare facilities; a series of white papers summarizing the data and information already available but not easily accessible on topics ranging from noise reduction to infection control; and a design guidebook featuring annotated photos and floorplans of exemplary solutions to the design challenges being faced on a daily basis, as well as a written evaluation of each solution's strengths and weaknesses.

In March, we launched a monthly Webinar series with American Art Research designed to bring together high-level professionals to learn from the experts and each other. These Live Research Laboratories cover a different topic each month, including the effect of light on patient and staff outcomes, reducing falls in healthcare environments, and postoccupancy evaluations of built projects to evaluate outcomes. Each month, Center Board Member Craig Zimring, PhD, from Georgia Institute of Technology presents the latest research on the selected topic, along with an industry expert who leads a conversation about innovative new solutions to pressing industry issues. Webinar participants also have the opportunity to share their insights with the group.

Finally, The Center is planning to launch a new program to provide consultation and expertise on a variety of topics.

Yes, spring has come and along with it the excitement of new beginnings, new partnerships, and new opportunities. We also welcome Laura Ellington to our staff as our new Director of Project Development. It's always an exciting time at The Center for Health Design, but this spring, as winter days turn warm, I'm feeling even a bit more grateful and energized about the future. HD