Who among us hasn't fantasized about being a kid again? All those free hours spent playing ball, exploring that exotic field next door, experiencing sights, smells, fears, and thrills we've never experienced before-childhood is always an exciting time. And it's made even more so when the world meets you more than halfway.
That's what's happening now, certainly, in the field of health-care design, as evidenced by several articles in this issue. Those drab, scary hospitals of yesteryear have suddenly become places of unbelievable stimulation and fun.
It may seem odd to view a hospital as a place of fun. Hos-pitals aren't there to entertain us, after all, but to attend to our most urgent and serious, even grim, physical and mental needs. What today's designers are saying, though, is that there is no need for the hospital to belabor the point; everyone knows why the patient is there. But maybe a bit of delight and diversion will ease the experience of hospitalization, and perhaps even expedite the healing process.
Saying that is one thing, though; demonstrating it through design is quite another. That's where the “mind-blowing” aspect of this comes in. To see the vibrant colors and “howling coyote” of a Phoenix Children's Hospital; the two-story, interactive video wall of a Brenner Children's Hospital and its rooftop musical kiosks; to see a full-blown train engine emerging from Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, with its goofy-looking giant dog sculpture outside the door; and the rooftop sailboat atop Hasbro Children's Hospital-this is to enter a healthcare world to which most of us are unaccustomed. No one wants to be a patient or, worse, have one's kids be patients. But if it has to happen, these hospitals are the places to be.
As for us grown-ups, even though the hospital trend toward more hotel/home-like design is very much welcome, the child in me has to ask: When are we going to get our own pizzazz? HD
RICHARD L. PECK, EDITOR Healthcare Design 2003 May;3(2):4