By Aurelio Posada, AIA, Associate Principal
This past fall, I had a great visit at HuntonBrady Architects’ office in Orlando with Rodolphe el-Khoury, new Dean of the University of Miami’s School of Architecture. Our shared enthusiasm for modern architecture in healthcare settings resulted in an invitation to critique student work at the University’s new healthcare design studio.
(Left) © Flikr Creative Commons Ines Hegedus-Garcia, University of Miami. (Right) Collaborating with our architecture peers at UM. From left: Professor Veruska Vasconez, Aurelio Posada, Professor Deborah Franqui, Chuck Cole
Chuck Cole, FAIA, FACHA, President and healthcare leader of HuntonBrady Architects, joined me on our first visit to UM for the student critique. We arrived in Coral Gables on a typical hot and rainy Florida day. There was no doubt which was the home of the architecture school on campus. The Jorge M. Perez Architectural Center is a neo-traditional, white stucco, octagonal building designed by architect Leon Krier. It is intimate in scale but looms large amongst the campus’ largely flat-roofed, modern buildings. Krier is a world renowned architectural theorist and innovator in the New Urbanism movement whose work and ideas have influenced the school.
The students were grouped into four teams who tackled different healthcare design projects over the course of the semester. These enthusiastic students are led by a faculty team from a wide range of disciplines including Dr. Deborah Franqui, Elizabeth Plater Zyberck, Ed Hengtgen and Veruska Vasconez.
Each project encompassed different scales and levels of complexity, including the design of an urban master plan, a primary healthcare clinic in an existing building, and a new digital device, product or process which would enhance healthcare. Each group gave a digital presentation and explained their ideas and solutions to the jury.
At first I thought the ambitious scope of the projects were overreaching for students. But the teams showed interest in covering the wide range of challenges present in architectural design projects. The students approached their projects in a holistic way that closely modeled the macro and micro levels of thought a working architect must utilize on a daily basis. They also proved this generation’s keen understanding of larger factors affecting architecture such as climate change and how rising water levels will shape the future of South Florida. Following the presentations, we engaged in a lively round table discussion about the course itself- from its syllabus to the breadth and depth of project types included.
I was very pleased with the level of discussion, the commitment, passion and excitement for healthcare architecture shared by faculty and students in Coral Gables. This growing program is very important for UM and I believe it will have a positive impact on the quality of healthcare design in our country. Many thanks to Dean el-Khoury for the opportunity to be a part of such an important initiative.