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  • HuntonBrady Architects

What College Students Can Teach You About Healthcare Architecture

by Chuck Cole, FAIA, FACHA


I recently had the chance to go back to school with Adventist University of Health Sciences students. HuntonBrady Architects partnered with the University to create a Design & Construction workshop this summer for students in the Master of Healthcare Administration program. Professor Benita David wanted to familiarize the students with the design process and enable them to lead a hospital construction project at some point in their careers….which will happen sooner than later. Findings from Health Facilities Management’s 2016 Hospital Construction Survey show 70 percent of respondents have projects currently under way or planned in the next three years, with 75 percent of those projects as renovations or expansions.


At HuntonBrady Architects, we know the most important members of our design team are our clients. In healthcare design, architects and interior designers work very closely with hospital administrators from even before a project begins (Can we do this? Do we have room?) through every big and small step to completion. Their input, experience and intimate knowledge of the industry are a great counterpart to our architectural expertise. Healthcare administrators tasked with managing building projects must learn how to read architectural space plans, understand Florida building codes, budget for $25 million projects and so much more. They make important design decisions on an almost daily basis, and the ADU faculty saw the value in a workshop that would introduce future administrators to these skills.


Our workshop consisted of two sessions over two days with faculty, students and members of HuntonBrady Architects’ healthcare team, including: Paul Macheske, Aurelio Posada, Greg Braithwaite, Hernan Rivera, David Horn, Gabe Auffant and Michael Parker.


At the first session, we held an interactive lecture which addressed project definition, program statement, budget, schedule, team members, design process, and various project types including renovation, addition, and new construction.  Drawing from over 20,000 healthcare projects we’ve completed at HuntonBrady Architects, the students were engaged early on. We could tell that the subject was interesting to them. We also gave practical advice to students, such as: project construction cost does not equal project cost, the process will take longer than you think, and more people will be involved than you expect.


At the second day-long session, we asked students to use this new knowledge to design their own project. They elected to design an emergency department, a medical home physician group practice, and a mission hospital located on a Caribbean island. With help from our team, they wrote a program, created a budget, made a schedule, and designed the projects. Each team presented their projects at the end of the day with the hope of convincing the instructors that their project deserved to be funded and built. The mission hospital team reflected a trend we see in the younger workforce: if we are going to spend a lot of time on something, let’s make it useful to the world. Their compassion was translated to something tangible. It was a big thought for a ten-hour course.


Our workshop was significant in no small part because it sets students up to be successful healthcare administrators in the future, and we will all benefit from that.

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