With healthcare construction still booming, a focus on the patient experience, sustainable design and the use of natural materials and lighting gave a competitive edge to the 12 winners of the 21st annual Design Awards. In addition to incorporating design trends, this year's winners -- an array of hospitals, children's facilities, cancer centers and other clinics -- also relied on simple design and efficient layouts to stand out among the nearly 200 entries in this year's competition, according to the judges.
"In my mind, the projects that were selected were comprehensive solutions to architectural problems-they dealt with the functional aspects of their purpose very well," says David Thompson, with Architects Richard Bundy & David Thompson, San Diego, and a judge in this year's awards program. "But the second part of that is they also incorporated the basic tenets of good architecture-proportion, scale, quality of materials and a clear consideration for the human psyche."
Judges ranked the winners on design excellence, functional utility, flexibility of design, and response to patient and family needs. The facilities that best satisfied the aesthetic component, according to one judge, are those that made the most of their natural environment.
"I appreciated their ability to complement both the function that they serve and the region where they're located in a really beautiful, natural way," says judge Jim Brinkley, president of James Brinkley Co., Covington, Wash. "All of the winners accomplished that."
Through a mix of new construction, renovations and additions, judges say the winning projects all conveyed a sense of obligation to people-patients, visitors and caregivers. Judges also note that spacious, private patient rooms, views of gardens, natural lighting and ease of navigating the buildings helped facilities create calm settings. "They didn't seem to sacrifice or lack anything, and they all have a very comfortable environment," says Marsha Berger, principal of Marsha Berger Architect, Oakmont, Pa., and another judge in this year's program.
Of the 187 facilities competing this year, the judges gave two awards of excellence, four citations and six honorable mentions. Eleven of the 12 winners are in the "built" category; one project is in the "not built" category. There were 189 facilities judged in 2005.
This year's awards, sponsored by Modern Healthcare and the American Institute of Architects' Academy of Architecture for Health, are set to be presented Oct. 19 in Miami.