70 interiors+sources march2016 interiorsandsources.com
Cutting-edge, evidence-based healthcare design may sound sterile and dominated by technology, but art continues to play an increasingly important role in these environments. Positive patient outcomes—such as stress relief, faster recovery times,
and a reduced need for pain medications—have been well-documented, but
the benefits of including art and artisanal objects in healthcare extend beyond.
By connecting communities, supporting local artists, creating healing
environments, and celebrating identity, art is often used by healthcare
designers to fulfill many goals for multiple populations while still satisfying the
complex design needs of healthcare spaces.
“Healthcare facilities must house technology, prevent the spread of
infection, and accommodate all of the people who are populating that space,
which often encompasses more than patients, their families, and employees,”
said Cheryl S. Durst, executive vice president and CEO of IIDA. “Art is a
counterpoint to the complexity of healthcare design. Incorporating art and
artisanal pieces into healthcare environments humanizes the experience,
creates a sense of calm, and presents an opportunity to welcome others
into these spaces.”
Edwin Beltran, design principal in the Columbus office of NBBJ and
member of the IIDA International Board of Directors, agrees: “In a world dom-
inated by digital media stimuli, we see an increased need for sensorial stimuli
that appeals to the human need for touch and connection to nature, both
of which have been shown to reduce stress. Handcrafted materials offer
opportunities to create environments that appeal to multiple senses by weaving
sight, touch, and sound together. Combined, these materials connect us
back to our human nature, which is of particular importance in healthcare.
Healthcare facilities are increasingly designed to shed the identity of being
a place for those who are ailing; instead, these environments are built to be
gathering places by providing programming for the public as well as event
spaces and auditoriums that can be used for various community purposes.
“Healthcare is not only about illness, it’s about wellness. People go
because they are sick, but also because they want to be healthy,” said Debra
Levin, president and CEO of the Center for Health Design. “Many hospitals
now have community rooms that the public is invited to use, so the goal is to
create spaces that the community wants to be a part of.”
Using local artwork offers the community an opportunity to be involved
with a healthcare project and provides an incentive to visit or use the facility
for purposes unrelated to illness.
“You can support a local art community and also bring one together,” said
Levin. “If you find local artists, they can create interesting pieces that have a
sense and feel of the area. It’s a great way to bring the community together
for a new facility, raise funds, and garner support for a project.”
According to Jocelyn Stroupe, principal of Cannon Design, it’s common for
healthcare designers to tap local artists. In a recent project for an ambulatory
care facility at the University of Minnesota, the design team put out a call.
“The range of art was from photography to sculpture and suspended
By Louisa Fitzgerald
IIDA members reflect on how art plays a key role in healing and why it’s not
only important for patients and their families, but also for the public at large.
A SENSE OF