As a practicing designer, I find it interesting to note when user awareness of a particular design trend triggers a “flashpoint.” A flashpoint happens when the buzz on an innovative idea causes it to emerge as a “necessary” detail, or when you have solved a problem in a unique way and discover within the next year or so that others are taking the same approach. The occurrence of a flashpoint indicates that we are all on the same evolutionary path, making similar connections at approximately the same rate as our colleagues who are paying attention to the same external forces.

The Center for Health Design is just such an external force. It has triggered many flashpoints over the past 16 years. During The Center's first 10 years, it produced and operated the Symposium for Health Design, one of the first (if not the first) venues for the design community to address issues involving the healing experience within the built environment. Recognizing that valid research was limited in this field, The Center set out to engage healthcare providers in the creation of an evidence-based body of knowledge that would spark flashpoints, prove their validity, and create still newer ones. The Center has continually strived to broaden its audience and identify individuals who share the same passion.

Two such individuals came to The Center through our research initiative known as the Pebble Project. We encountered Ann Hendrich, RN, MSN, vice-president of Clinical Excellence Operations at Ascension Health in St. Louis; and Frank J. Sardone, President and CEO of Bronson Healthcare Group in Kalamazoo, Michigan, when their institutions signed on as our first Pebble Partners. Both risk takers, they initiated hospital building projects that set out to improve the health experience, not only for patients and their family members, but also for their caregivers.

Ann directed the development of a $13 million, award-winning cardiac critical care demonstration project at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis that has set new benchmark standards for the field. Frank led Bronson Healthcare Group through completion of a $181 million project that produced a state-of-the-art hospital, combining the effects of light, nature, art, and music to foster healing and wellness.

With great pleasure we announce that both Ann and Frank are joining The Center for Health Design's board of directors. Recognizing the visionary leadership they exhibit at their respective institutions, we look forward to their offering the same to future deliberations of The Center for Health Design. We are prepared to see many flashpoints.

The Center's role as an external force is also continuing in a research project being funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The project will document all evidence-based design research that has been completed to date that meets the academic rigor with which The Center has long been associated. Phase I will update a report The Center published in 1998, and world-renowned researchers Roger S. Ulrich, PhD, director of the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, and environmental psychologist Craig Zimring, PhD, professor of architecture and psychology, College of Architecture at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, are heading this effort.

The Center has also become aware that the larger the committed audience, the greater the chance of more flashpoints occurring. Not being membership-based, we can serve anyone who is interested in this work in an advocacy and research role—but we still need the support of those interested parties. As a result, we are establishing an Affiliate Program to promote and expand The Center's work. We encourage you to join our Community of Affiliates. By formally becoming part of our community, you are stating your support for and involvement in a movement that is transforming the healthcare industry. Contact us at or go to to download the Affiliate Program brochure and application. It's the right thing to do and the right time to do it.

As a sure sign that I'm right, I can't help but notice that I no longer have to broach the topic of healing environments with new healthcare clients—that, in fact, they initiate this conversation. I like to think this reflects the flashpoint that The Center for Health Design sparked years ago. HD