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pieces. What was interesting was that members of that community could walk
through the facility and recognize names of the artists or subject matter from the
area,” said Stroupe. “It provided people in that space with the ability to feel more
connected, another sense of comfort in a healthcare environment.”
Art in healthcare spaces can strengthen patients’ connection to individual identity
and affiliation with a larger group, creating a sense of pride and evoking feelings of
familiarity and control.
The Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, scheduled to open in
late 2016 and designed by NBBJ in collaboration with Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and
Rozas Ward Architects, replaced the facility destroyed by Hurricane Katrina over a
decade earlier. Designers of the 1.7 million-square-foot facility made identity a key
component of the facility from plaster feature walls that display national seals to
patterns in custom-designed carpets and privacy curtains that artfully intertwine
military imagery with iconic New Orleans design. “The Southeast Louisiana
Veterans Health Care System is a representation of national and local pride and
honors the service and sacrifice of our veterans,” said Beltran.
For patients living in Alzheimer’s care facilities, art is a critical aspect of the
“memory boxes” at the entrances of patients’ rooms. “Memory boxes are effec-
tive in bringing positive memories back for patients in Alzheimer’s care. It might be
photographs or special objects that represent that person and their identity,” said
Mindy Graves-Ajami, principal of Metaform Design Studio, Inc. “These people are
in their most vulnerable state, and whatever you can do to make the experience
more calming or familiar, you do it.”
For patients and their families, art is linked to positive patient outcomes both
physically and psychologically and has the power to turn sterile and potentially
nerve-racking experiences into less frightening ones for patients and their families.
But connecting that artwork back to the community can have an even stronger
effect by turning a hospitality-like environment into something more familiar and
closer to home.
“We like to work with local artists who understand the surroundings and can
provide us with art to imbed into the architecture of a space that can distract
patients or families with a memory or familiarity,” said Stroupe.
The design of the new Kettering Health Network Cancer Center in Dayton,
Ohio, employs this approach. “We’re bringing in more pattern and texture than you
typically see in healthcare facilities and there are more decorative features,” said
Stroupe. “One of the patients is an artist who creates glass flowers, which have
become an iconic element in their current center. We’re working to incorporate this
artist because these flowers have such a positive, strong, and familiar connection
for the hospital for patients and employees.”
The ultimate goal of using art in these spaces? To create a more human-
centered experience of healthcare.
“In this new healthcare era, designers are responsible for developing solutions
that provide value and create inspiring environments conducive to healing,” said
Beltran. “Art is just one of the many tools we use to achieve this mandate.”
Louisa Fitzgerald is the senior writer and editor at IIDA, which can be reached at
1-888-799-4432, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.iida.org.