Designing During a Pandemic

Some thought provoking questions from a SteelCase Roundtable:
Jen Wilcynski, Orcutt | Winslow Healthcare Interior Designer:
Things I’m most concerned about as we navigate through these unprecedented times:

  1. The psychological impact of “shiny = clean”: I wonder if we’ll go back to the days of highly polished floors, bright, cool-temperature lighting and the old “Institutional Design” we’ve tried to overcome. 
  2. Telehealth: (the hot topic of the day) : How does TeleHealth contribute to the spaces we design?
  3. What about waiting rooms – do we really need them? Are they now the new enemy as we continue to social distance? Can we wait in our cars for our appointment?
  4. The psychological impact of socical distancing: Will our healthcare spaces be full of acrylic panels everywhere from the Reception and Admitting Desks to Nurse Stations?  How does that affect the trust we need to convey to the patients and for the caregivers alike?  Do we feel safer when there’s a clear acrylic screen in front of us?
  5. And, how does IT help support these new norms?

During our round table, we also discussed the financial fall-out of this pandemic as it relates to the healthcare field…from staff furloughs, to physicians and nurses being asked to take pay cuts to projects going on hold to how this affects our individual firms. But, there’s also a bright spot out there. Developer-driven ambulatory surgery centers have seen an increase in planning activity!

In summary, we wondered if what (and how) we’re designing during this pandemic is temporary in nature? Think of highly flexible spaces that can be changed to another use at the drop of a hat. How will the Architecture and Design field, alongside our healthcare systems, change in response to COVID-19? Stay Tuned….only time will tell…