One of the goals of any advanced design, architectural or interior, is to give the building and space a “personality,” a visual expression that can only belong to itself and can be mistaken for no other form or type of its kind. Recently, noted healthcare interior designer Jain Malkin took on the challenge of providing an environmental personality for a busy modern emergency department and a woman's breast health center. They serve entirely different cases and clientele, yet each has striking features that catch the eye, relax the soul, and comfort the patient and family. Here are her commentaries on each:
Eisenhower Medical Center Emergency Department, Rancho Mirage, California
“First impressions are important, and people always make an immediate assessment as to whether an environment is nurturing or threatening. As you approach the ED, you see that the vestibule is all glass and the first thing you encounter is a serene garden. There is flowing water, granite boulders, a large, slowly rotating granite ball fountain, and plants-a Zen garden that invites you to trail your fingers in the water.”
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“The nurses' stations have a sculptural quality-a way of carrying the design features of the lobby into the patient care areas. A lot of projects expend the design fee on the lobby and don't reserve an adequate amount for patient care areas. Here we have used wood-grained plastic laminate, with columns wrapped in metal for protection.”
“In lobby/waiting areas you'll notice private seating groupings with individual lighting, carpet, bookshelves and contemporary glass art in niches. Ceiling design is an element which we focus on. You can spend a fortune on features beneath the ceiling, but if you don't pay attention to the ceiling and lighting, you won't achieve the goal of a harmonious design. In fact, ceiling design is one of the first things we do; working on variations in ceiling heights, soffits, and layout of light fixtures to achieve variety in lighting levels in different areas of the space.”
“I love to select art. The hand-blown glass pieces here are glued into position. I often buy art glass in San Francisco, and have created relationships with some 30 or 40 glass artists at big national crafts shows. The inset shelves and niches are part of the interior architecture. We also devote a lot of effort to getting the lighting right for the works of art. Often, in treatment areas, we'll place a 2 x 2 or 2 x 4-foot backlit film image of nature where the patient can see it when on a gurney or treatment table.”