What's Old Design Is New Again
After covering the healthcare design industry for two-plus years now, it’s occurred to me that my perception of the industry has changed quite a bit. I’ve gone from beginning to recognize critical design elements (like when I realized wayfinding was a common solution to my own frustrations of being lost in healthcare spaces) to expecting them to be there.
And while I’ve gained perspective, thanks to the help of many of you, it’s nice to be reminded that that initial impact of understanding—when something clicks for someone unfamiliar with the nuances of healthcare design—continues to happen.
Take a recent Q&A in the New York Times for example. In “Summoning Nature for Healing,” reporter Julie Lasky chats with landscape architect Mikyoung Kim about her work on the Crown Sky Garden at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago as well as Project Ripple, her garden at Miami's Jackson South Community Hospital.
As many of us well know, nary new facility is built or an old one renovated that doesn’t have some component of green space incorporated to provide a respite area, outdoor dining element, or simple access to fresh air. It’s a component of evidence-based design that perhaps is beyond even that, to a point of simply being what you do.
Lasky asks Kim to define healing gardens, and then questions whether these spaces can really allow people to reboot if they’re in a hospital. And Kim responds that, indeed, they can.
“Overall, a kind of stress management happens. It’s something we all know intuitively. We go to a place that’s quiet and inviting, and we can just feel our body relaxing. I think at the highest level, hospital administrators are really beginning to believe that design matters and they’re infusing a kind of humanity into these clinical environments,” she states in the article.
The Q&A was picked up by Fast Company, a short piece appearing in its Asides section: “Landscape architect Mikyoung Kim is gaining a reputation for building hospital gardens—which seems like an oxymoron, until you hear her talk about them.”
And with that phrase, you see that it's happening again—that someone is realizing a design component can change the healthcare experience. It’s just like me finding years ago that designers really are thinking about better signage so I don’t walk in circles on my way to see my physician.
The message of what this industry does is spreading—beyond the scope of our own industry groups and gatherings, conference rooms, and trade publications. Design successess are being noted and, hopefully, inspiring a few "ah-ha" moments. And that’s worth celebrating.