Callison Makes Health Care Look Good - Design Bureau

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Above and below: Swedish Medical Group, MS Center, Seattle, Washington. Winner of the IIDA Award for Best Design in Healthcare, Northern Pacific Chapter 2012.

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Below: South Lake Union Clinic, Swedish Medical Group, Seattle, Washington

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Callison Makes Health Care Look Good

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

With 10 offices worldwide in major cities like New York, London, Shanghai, and Dubai, Callison is a global architecture firm that partners with Fortune 500 companies and industry-leading to build not just retail, office, and residential properties, but brand identities. It's also a leading firm in the health care design world. We talk to John Jex, principal at Callison about how their team makes hospitals and health care centers look good—and work well.

What are the most important factors to consider when designing a health care facility? What elements most guide your designs?
There are two main questions we ask in the design process: Does the design support the care teams’ needs for operational efficiency, quality, and safety? Does the design provide a 'best patient experience'? When we speak of best patient experience we mean a design that anticipates the needs of patients and their families and offers a relaxed, anxiety-reducing setting.  

How does your design team at Callison keep up with the quickly evolving needs in the medical world?
We work directly with physicians and care team members to learn the issues. For the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute, for example, Callison’s design team did extensive research on MS patients and the built environment. A patient focus group was formed to review and influence the design. We also read widely and subscribe to medical journals, both in print and online, to stay current.

What are the most challenging aspects of designing health care facilities?
There is an enormous need today to repurpose and expand existing capital assets. Existing facilities come with limitations. Their design solutions have to respect existing conditions, which make them all the more challenging. Medical centers are a complex web of medical service departments and support functions. There are distinct flows of publics, patients and services that need logical separation. There are also organizational hierarchy relationships that need acknowledgement. New designs must respect this matrix of physically and politically complex relationships. It’s challenging to design a medical center from the ground up, but creating solutions for an existing facility is even more so.

It seems that healthcare facilities have many standardized functions/needs—how does Callison make each of its designs unique from other health care facilities?
That is Callison’s specialty. We invest time to understand the unique nature of each client and project, then craft an experience that is best for the patient, the patient’s family, and the care team.

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