Friday, May 8, 2009

Local Architecture Firm Raises Standard for Hospital Design with New Pittsburgh Children's

The Pittsburgh-based architectural and engineering firm Astorino has set a new world standard for hospital design with the revolutionary new Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Astorino used a unique process that gained insights into the hearts and minds of patients, families and staff. The result is a healing space that meets the deepest needs of all who will inhabit this 10-acre campus for generations to come.

To prepare the plans, Astorino used deep design research from its affiliate company fathom to address the innermost needs of patients, families and staff. To best determine what those needs were, fathom used a market research tool originated by Olson Zaltman Associates, a Harvard University-based company.

The Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) is a unique one-on-one interview process that invites participants to find images that represent their deepest thoughts and feelings about a given topic. Through this research study, key metaphors for the ideal experience at Children’s emerged; Transformation became the overarching theme and Control, Connection and Energy were identified as supporting metaphors.

“Children and their families go through incredibly trying times at hospitals,” said Louis D. Astorino, FAIA, CEO and Chairman of Astorino. “Unfortunately, most environments today do little to aid in the healing process because they are not designed with people’s deepest needs in mind. The design of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is intended to alleviate stress and enhance the transformative healing process that patients and their families experience when in a hospital.”

For example, patient rooms were turned into kid-friendly spaces that are intimate and private, and allow children to take control over things like lighting and display of personal items. Floor plans also were organized to maximize usable space, increase productivity and reduce medical errors (i.e. care team stations were decentralized so staff is never far away from their patients; they were also designed with private and confidential areas for nurses and doctors to conference).

Children’s design connects patients with the outside world, themselves and others and alleviates the sense of isolation often felt inside hospitals. For example, the building’s rich and colorful interior and exterior – with lively red, blue, yellow and orange colors – provides an emotional connection for children.

"Healthcare is rapidly changing – from the way people receive care to advances in medicine – and architects need to be more nimble than ever to be able to respond to these changes," Astorino said. "At Astorino, we believe design can play an active role in the healing process and we hope that our work at Children’s will not just prove this, but inspire others to create designs that meet the deepest needs of users and pave the way for better care.”

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