Just like any good design, the best examples of healthcare architecture are human-centered and problem solving. Marc Marchant, Vice President and Principal with Charleston, South Carolina-based LS3P Associates, recently spoke with Discover about the complicated yet rewarding world of healthcare design. Marchant, a thirteen-year industry veteran, is a former recipient of the Herman Miller Health Care and American Institute of Architects’ Healthcare Interns Scholarship.
What are a few of the challenges unique to designing spaces for healthcare?
In healthcare, there are complicated buildings that require a very solution-based outcome—not just for the building, but for the patients and staff. How do you create a building that comforts patients, creates a meaningful work environment for staff and is extremely functional? How do you take something as mundane as an MRI room and create a space that is conducive to keeping patients calm during an otherwise unnerving procedure?
How do you work with a client to help them stay true to their vision?
The design and construction process can take years, so it starts with the design team and owner collaborating to establish the big vision and always looking back at that big idea to make sure they are achieving it. Everyone needs to have buy-in from the beginning to achieve the vision.
What’s the role of sustainability in healthcare design?
Fundamentally, the tenants of sustainability help us create buildings that are healthier for people and for the environment. The good news is that in healthcare design, many products and installation methods support sustainability as a baseline. The industry demands it because it’s the right thing to do. Some of the challenges include water use and mechanical design, all of which can be achievable in hospitals. Our role as designers is to communicate the benefit analysis for our clients.
Tell us about a project you were proud to be a part of.
One of the things I appreciate about healthcare design is that the half-million dollar projects are just as important as a $50 million project in terms of applying good healthcare practices. About three years ago, LS3P completed the design for Hampton Regional Medical Center, a replacement hospital in a rural county in South Carolina. The biggest challenge was to support the CEO’s vision, which was to maintain the health center for the county, to grow its support to the community, and to magnetize an affiliation with a larger medical system.
We’re real proud of the results. The new hospital is a beacon in the community; it’s welcoming and accommodating, with expanded, state-of-the-art services to attract doctors and nurses. It has become a place of gathering for the community, and a large healthcare system in Charleston is now affiliated with it. The story was less about architecture and more about how good design and really listening to your clients can create a positive outcome for the community.