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Thoughtful Design Begets Powerful Results

We recently had the privilege of attending an event to celebrate the opening of a new, state-of-the-art medical facility. In building the facility, the parent medical institution made a deliberate—and slightly unusual—design choice.

For them, it wasn’t just about cramming in more rooms.

They thought about more than making the hallways wide enough and the corners navigable.

They thought about how the space would feel.

They envisioned a peaceful place where the usual clamor of an active medical unit didn’t interfere with the patients’ need to rest and recover.

How did they do it?

By moving the nurse’s station out of its usual spot in the middle of the ward and placing it into one of the patient room areas.

This seemingly small adjustment made a profound difference. To do their job well,nurses have to talk. They have to talk to one another, to patients, to doctors, and to patients’ families. Phones ring. Carts full of supplies rumble through. People come and go incessantly. It’s part of the work, and it’s necessary. But where that happens made a huge impact.

The relocation allowed the nurses the ability to do everything they needed to do, at the volume that worked best for them, without any ill effects for the patients.

One event attendee remarked that she had visited the unit recently and found it to be “empty.” She was concerned that things weren’t going well. Someone close to the project responded that, during the month of the attendees’ visit, the unit had in fact been operating at full capacity. It was packed. It just didn’t feel packed, because of the deliberate layout choices. It felt peaceful. It felt like a place where people could relax and return to health.

Thoughtful design begets powerful results. What tweaks could be made in the spaces where you spend your time?