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Healthcare Architecture Q&A with Marc Jeffrey Landow, AIA, NCARB

Healthcare Architecture Q&A with Marc Jeffrey Landow, AIA, NCARB

Design 2147 CEO Sisto Martello recently had the opportunity to speak with Marc Jeffrey Landow, AIA, NCARB, Principal at Landow and Landow Architects, about the latest developments in healthcare architecture. Here are some of the important takeaways from the conversation.

Q. Landow and Landow Architects is a third-generation, family-owned firm that focuses on several verticals, one of which is healthcare. What are some of the healthcare projects you’ve recently completed or have on the boards?

A. We have recently completed Blaine Plastic Surgery in Huntington, New York. We are also working on a pediatric hospital for St Mary’s Hospital for Children in Queens, two Article 28 clinics for Long Island Select Health Care in Riverhead and Port Jefferson, and a 21-station dialysis building in Yonkers. We have also recently completed the renovation of seven on-unit pantries and dining rooms at Cabrini of Westchester in Dobbs Ferry to meet the needs of a changing strategy for resident care, a facility we designed 15 years ago.

Q. How has the design of healthcare spaces changed since COVID-19?

A. The design of healthcare spaces has undergone significant transformations since the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes are largely focused on enhanced safety, flexibility, and functionality. Some trends include infection control and prevention which includes improved ventilation systems, antimicrobial surfaces, and touchless technology. Design layouts include the use of more flexible and adaptable spaces, allowing rooms and spaces to be easily converted should the need arise. Zones and segregated spaces will also be included for infection control to prevent cross-contamination. Integration of technology, including spaces for telehealth and enhanced IT infrastructure, is now required. We are also focusing on designs that promote mental and physical well-being for patients and staff, including natural light, green spaces, and furnishings that reduce stress. Increased storage space for protective equipment and the inclusion of monitoring systems are being considered. Community health centers and home healthcare programs are being expanded to reduce the burdens on hospitals.

Q. What is the biggest challenge that architects working on healthcare projects face?

A. Architects working on healthcare projects face several significant challenges, one of the biggest being the balancing of flexibility and specialization. Healthcare facilities must be designed to accommodate changing needs, including patient volume and types of care. Spaces must be easily reconfigurable while at the same time designed for specific treatments and populations. A forward-thinking approach by both caregivers and architects must be employed to try and predict future trends so that designs can be adapted to new technologies, practices, and changing demographics. An adaptable infrastructure that allows for change without compromising current needs is critical. Budget constraints always present a challenge, requiring cost-effective solutions that do not compromise patient care. The need for sustainable design within constrained budgets, while incorporating adaptable design presents additional challenges. Collaboration with all stakeholders is the best way to overcome these challenges.

Q. What are some of the things that developers and owners need to consider when commissioning a healthcare space?

A. Developers and owners need to consider several factors to ensure their facilities meet the needs of patients, staff, and regulatory agencies. Adherence to building codes, health codes, and accreditation requirements is critical to a project moving forward. Facilities should be designed to reduce both maintenance and life cycle costs. Layouts should be designed to support efficient workflow and minimize unnecessary movement to enhance productivity. Wellness design strategies should be included to support both the mental and physical health of both staff and end users. Budgets should be maintained to ensure that development costs are in line with revenue and reimbursement.

Q. Your firm tries to educate the public about how architecture can affect patient outcomes. Can you share a real-world example of that?

A. Architecture plays a crucial role in affecting patient outcomes in healthcare by shaping the physical environment in which care is delivered. Well-designed healthcare facilities can enhance patient recovery, reduce stress, and improve overall health outcomes. We emphasize the need for calming and aesthetically pleasing environments to reduce anxiety and promote a sense of well-being. The use of color and artwork, as well as comfortable furniture, contributes to positive patient outcomes. We advocate for the use of single bedded rooms with room for family visits to promote privacy and dignity. Patient-centered care, with environments tailored to individual patient needs, is paramount. On-unit pantries where residents can smell the food being prepared and choose their meals have replaced the traditional centralized tray line.

Q. It seems like the definition of “healthcare space” has expanded as we become more aware of how impacted we are by our surroundings. For example, the design of a new hotel might include “wellness spaces” that are more similar to healthcare than to hospitality. Is that something you’ve seen in your practice?

A. Yes, the definition of “healthcare space” has certainly expanded, reflecting a growing awareness of the impact of our surroundings on health and well-being. This trend is evident with the incorporation of wellness features into non-healthcare settings. We utilize our healthcare knowledge in other project types to enhance the overall experience for the end users. Onsite amenities for office designs include wellness rooms, staff break rooms, pantries, and lounge space. We incorporate Biophilic Design to bring plants and natural light into the workplace. Residential buildings are adding gyms, yoga studios, and other wellness and fitness spaces. Healthy building standards such as WELL and Fitwel are being implemented, with a focus on promoting health and wellness through building design and operations. In our educational work, classrooms and common areas are designed with ergonomics and mental well-being in mind, featuring natural light and flexible, comfortable seating.

Q. What predictions do you have for the future of healthcare architecture?

A. The future of healthcare architecture will definitely continue to undergo significant changes, driven by advancements in technology, an increased focus on holistic wellness, and the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of AI, robotics, and Internet of Things will drive this evolution. As telehealth and monitoring systems become more and more prevalent, alleviating the need for patients to travel for care, the design of homes, healthcare facilities, and offices will also need to adapt to support these trends. Designing buildings that can respond to the ever-changing healthcare industry will be critical.