Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wish in one hand...

I returned to work to find that the medical profession has lost its mind.  The master plan we're working on for a 14-story clinic building here in town entails that we talk to the users of each department before we redesign their departments.  At first, the folks in charge of design and construction didn't want us to talk with each department's staff, but recently they've relented.  So, while I was gone on Friday, Sven met with a few of the departments to discuss their wants and needs.

Overall, we got good comments out of them, and I was able to go over the notes and plan redlines with Sven on Tuesday and make the changes in the CAD plans.  As we were finishing up our debriefing, he handed me a thin stack of papers.  "These are wish lists from the users we met with Friday, and one of the eye doctors used some kind of SketchUp type software to show us what he wanted...which is odd because he put all the exam rooms on the exterior walls, and you really don't want daylight in eye exam rooms."

I looked at the drawings the fellow had made.  There was a plan and then a 3D image of the walls and doors he'd put in, plus a color legend to explain that red walls were exam rooms, blue walls were offices, and so on.  Like the Libra I am, I was of two minds about this.  On one hand, good on the guy for taking the initiative and for understanding 3D space enough to figure out what kind of layout he wanted for his department.  It's rare that we work with clients who can actually read plans and understand what it means to have an 8' x 8' room.  But oooooon the otherrrr haaaand (as Randy Travis would sing), gee, why did I go to school for 6 years and spend another 6 years getting licensed so that any schmuck with free software from the innernets can get their design on?  And here I was thinking I was so valuable as a healthcare architect.  I guess now I can diagnose astigmatism in my friends and neighbors?  Only if Google has some free software to help with that.

But I digress.  What really threw me was the "Wish Lists" that some of the departments put together.  They actually included the following:
  • Espresso machine (more than one department wanted one, actually.  Do they know that you have to be trained to make a decent latte?  That's how Starbucks does it, kids)
  • A Wii (is that how you're training to remove hemorrhoids these days?  I've seen Wii Fit and Wii Sport, but not Wii Laparoscopy or Wii Tracheoesophageal Scoping)
  • Sick room for employees (why? is removing stitches that nauseating?  then why are you a nurse/physician, pray tell?)
  • A plasma TV (if only the blood bank had asked for this, I'd understand.  Get it?  Blood bank, plasma?  See that pun I made?  I crack me up!)
  • Skylight (on the 10th floor of the 14-story building.  There's no punch line to that one--I'm looking at the document in another window right now)
  • Quiet room with masseuse and relaxing music on Bose system ( we have one at Design Associates too?)
Despite the fact that I just got back from Vegas, I am neither David Blaine nor David Copperfield.  I am an architect, not a magician.  If you are remodeling an existing space and you are not allowed to add on or take up space elsewhere in the building, and you want a sick room or a lounge or some other area that you don't presently have, you have to give up some space elsewhere to make it happen.  And when I say this, I'm not itrying to be cranky (I know, it's rare), just practical.  Do you really have enough advice nurse staff to fill that 10' x 16' room?  If not, we can take some space there and make you that quiet room you want/need.  But if you have four admin and advice staff in that room, and you're not giving up an exam or a storage room, then you get no lounge.  No, you can't give up your soiled utility room--the nurses need it, the AIA Guidelines require that you have one, and for crying out loud you deal with open wounds; you need somewhere to dispose of gooey bandages and basins of debrided wound residue.  I will do what I can to get you the spaces you need, but you have to be willing to meet me halfway, and you also have to trust me when I say that the ADA forbids you from having a toilet room that's 4' square.*

But a skylight on a lower floor of a tower?  Someone's been into the medical marijuana.

*In order to meet ADA and ANSI, a toilet room must be at least 7'-2" wide by 6'-8" long, if the door is on the wall opposite the toilet.


Anonymous said...

Here's your answer to the people who want a skylight on the 10th floor...

I actually used two of these for a small dental office I worked on. One was placed directly over each dental chair so that the patient had something nice to look at.

That way you can tell these people "I see your medical marijuana induced delusion and raise you a razmataz and some hocus pocus." I think the only way to stay sane in architecture is to be crazier than our clients.

Small Town said...

Sounds like every eye doc I've ever worked with. I just finished a building where I had to block off 75% of the windows in a suite because the doc insisted he wanted the exams on the exterior walls (he was moving from a strip mall).

mizscarlett said...


be careful what you wish for were never truer words.

I'm going to buy a software package that will let me design my new back yard.


Then I am going to hire Juan and Antonio and tell them to just "make it pretty with grass"

because if wishes were fishes, we'd walk on the sea...

Elliott said...

You think arhitecture for healthcare is bad then try IT for healthcare.

2H said...

Quite priceless Ms. Pixie,

Thanks for letting us have this glimpse into the dialogue with the end users of your project. It seems that although you are an esteemed expert in the field of medical facilities planning, you still need to develop the planning with their input, although the truth is that you probably know more about what they need and how to make it function than they do. Forgive me if you’ve addressed thin in a previous posting but I had a question about your process. We are all taught in school to start with harmless looking bubbles on the page – images that say more about relationships and sequences than describe walls, doors and stairs. Since what you are doing is highly technical, can you get away with immediately showing the components of the program in hard line – in something that actually looks like a building, or do you start with compositions of soft pill shaped patches linked by dotted lines? We are in schematics on a project right now and we actually have everything completely worked out and down on cad – but are doing freehand squiggly tracings to present to the client so that they don’t feel like things are finalized and are comfortable participating in design. This hand conversion exercise probably drives my project designer nuts, but as architects we all grew up with cad – we are used to it and know what it means but my clients aren’t familiar with it and I have to be conscious of the intimidation factor.


Miss Kitty said...

Did you try breakdancing in the toilet room? Or just pissing? :-P