As it turns out, mixing it up at holiday parties can lead to great things. When Dean Nan Ellin, PhD of the College of Architecture and Planning, spoke to Dean John Reilly of the CU Anschutz School of Medicine at a party last December, the two came up with a beautiful plan to get CU Denver and CU Anschutz to work together – for the common good.
The School of Medicine planned to develop a 27-acre site with an innovative holistic care model for Salud Family Health and the Aurora Medical School. The project would encompass five wellness areas: access to clinical care, affordable housing, early childhood education, food shortages and nutrition, and workforce economic development.
Reilly wanted to know if CAP students could help. Ellin replied, “That’s exactly what we’re doing. The college’s mission is to ignite evolution that enriches places for people and the planet. And our motto is Real People + Real Projects = Real Difference. “
The anti-clinical studio is re-imagining healthcare design
In the middle of a difficult year for everyone, a group of intrepid architecture students set out to rethink health, wellness and care. Professor Marc Swackhamer, chairman of the architecture department, would serve as a guide. He converted his M. Arch Studio V class into the Anticlinical Studio.
What exactly did the Anticlinical Studio want to do? Quite a bit, according to Swackhamer’s curriculum: “In the first third of the semester you will examine the overall master plan of the site … In the final two-thirds of the studio, you will design the health clinic yourself with an emphasis on programmatic innovation, personal care for the clinic’s underserved population and a wealthy Relation to the location and landscape along the High Line Canal. “
The students, who work in five teams of two, would have to present their final projects in a 10-minute video that summarizes their genius. Except that Swackhamer wasn’t looking for a genius. “The studio is about” calming your cleverness “(Janine Benyus) and working together to make our world a better place,” he said.
“The studio is about ‘calming your cleverness’ (Janine Benyus) and working together to make our world a better place.”
– Marc Swackhamer, chairman of the architecture department
Swackhamer wasn’t an expert on health design, so he did exactly what he asked his students to do – listen. He brought in two architects with expertise in healthcare, Stacey Root of Cannon and David Pfeifer, President of AMD. They “gave lectures and critical feedback to students so that our class could learn as much as possible about best practices in contemporary health design as quickly as possible,” said Swackhamer.
In addition, the anti-clinical studio sought help from Anne Fuhlbrigge, MD, Senior Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs at SOM; John Santistevan, President of Salud Family Health; Frances Vernon, medical student and senior administrator for the health clinic project; and other stakeholders, including the City of Aurora and Aurora residents, who may use the facility.
Their opinions made the students listen a lot. “Too often we (i.e. architects) go into a community and think we’re the experts and we expect everyone to agree with our knowledge and desires,” said Swackhamer. “In reality, good work, meaningful work that resonates with and connects with people, comes from working together and listening.”
Grass, trees, flowers and gardens
Architecture students Valerie Presley and Randy Chu based their plans for the Aurora Community Health Center on the wishes of community members, specifically what would you like for your children?
“Grass, trees and flowers were first on their list,” Presley said during her presentation last Thursday, December 3, 2020. Presley and Chu designed a number of wellness gardens across the property, each with the holistic purpose of the Philosophy was connected to the center. Longevity, immunity, serenity, and growth gardens provide different health benefits to foods. Since the construction site is in a desert for food and libraries, Presley and Chu added a library to the health center. The students’ presentation even mentioned the transformative power of gardens in famous literary works.
Architecture students Valerie Presley and Randy Chu have integrated wellness gardens into their design.
Vitality Village, designed by graduate students Johnny English and Jacqueline Lund, focused on the concept of diffusion. They looked at Aurora’s history and the multiethnic population. proposed cradle-to-cradle building materials including rammed earth excavated on the site itself; and explored research on the benefits of prairie strips that reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and provide habitat for wildlife.
These student projects focused on a single theme, weaving multiple strands of essential information into a surprisingly cohesive – and beautiful – narrative. Unsurprisingly, Swackhamer wanted to promote this very holistic approach. “We always break things down in architecture … houses are over here, gardens over there, doctor’s office in another area, grocery store in another, and so on,” he said.
Masters students Johnny English and Jacqueline Lund studied the history of the aurora, prairie strips, and reusable building materials.
However, Swackhamer points out that holistic care should be incorporated: “You need to be connected to nature, the foods you eat, your community, behavioral and physical health, affordable housing, and access to business support – Architecture and space can combine these things in a way that nothing else can. ”
The Anticlinical Studio was an interdisciplinary and cross-campus project. “This exciting partnership brings together students and faculties from the GAP and the School of Medicine to find better ways to shape health care and neighborhood designs that help prevent disease,” said Dean Ellin.
More importantly, the CAP / SOM alliance reflects the holistic approach of the clinic itself. “The fruitful collaboration has challenged well-worn assumptions about patients and their caregivers and made proposals that support health and wellbeing from an integrated perspective, not just for individuals but for communities as well,” said Ellin.
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