There is a movement developing – an evolution of design processes in the health care space – that is encouraging responsible design, appropriateness and stewardship. As part of that evolution, decision making is based on credible research, resulting in evidence-based design. Evidence-based design uses best practices and a problem-solving approach to create better buildings.

Value design is a process of creating the best customer experience. It involves all stakeholders and a series of guiding principles. They guide the structure of a project: what is anticipated to be the result compared to what the stakeholders want the result to be. Based on good predictive analytics, we can calculate how a project will turn out.

For success, collaboration is critical, and collaboration will become more intentional as time passes.

The change in processes also comes in connecting the architect to the research team. Planning is improved when the relationship with the contractor is strengthened. It results in healthier designs. Having the expertise on the front end of the project makes for a superior design, and in many cases, owner expectations are driving this change. It makes for a more sophisticated process when the owner is offered multiple solutions and can choose one. It also streamlines projects.

There is a value in relationships on a project. The more collaborative the project is, the less adversarial. Good working relationships make a project more efficient. An ideal relationship could be described this way: Despite hiccups, there are trust and a willingness to solve a problem, regardless of fault, while maintaining the relationship.

Flexibility can be designed into a building in advance by envisioning the long-term functional scenarios of that building. Maybe a building starts out as an office space or a retail store and ends as a medical facility – as we saw happen during the pandemic. Repurposing buildings in this way is good from a sustainability viewpoint. To achieve true sustainability, possibilities and flexibilities like this need to be envisioned for the future.

To design for flexibility, the design team needs to imagine and design for multiple scenarios. A matrix of possibilities can be developed – including the initial purpose the built project needs to serve and what it might serve at the end of its life: what it is today and what it can function as in the future. This could apply to any type of design as we move forward, ensuring there can be multiple uses for any structure.

Of course, this is not an innate characteristic of a built environment. It’s innovative. And such innovation should be surrounded by and founded in research. The best place for innovators is on the leading edge, not the bleeding edge.    

Join episode 9 of The AEC Disruptors as Josh Crew talks about evolution of design processes in the health care space.

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