The Built Environment as a Medical Intervention


Healthcare professionals list the built environment as a contributing factor of burnout. As the architecture becomes more interdisciplinary, the architectural practice model must evolve to include roles that intersect with medicines. Proper design thinking can change how people work for the better.  Welcome to the inaugural season of Architecture 5 10 20! I’m your host, Guy Geier, Managing Partner of FXCollaborative Architects in New York. Guests from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences related to the built environment will come to share their thought leadership. Our conversations will start with understanding how they arrived at what they’re doing now. More importantly, we will focus on discussing their vision for the future, looking out 5, 10 and 20 years. Today, we’re joined by Dr. Diana Anderson who is known as a Dochitect. She is both a healthcare architect and a board-certified healthcare architect with the Order of Architects of Quebec (OAQ) and the American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA). In her work, she is committed to the advancement of healthier built environments through evidence-based research and design. Over the past three years, she focused on geriatric neurology and the therapeutic benefits of improved living conditions for the elderly. Diana’s hybrid career model allowed her to use bioethics research to inform and improve the design of healthcare environments globally.

Listen to Diana express her thoughts on the intersection of health and architecture. She  predicts future conversations focused on staff design, data-driven design, and technology. Throughout the episode, she poses questions that help design thinking represent multiple stakeholders. Diana talks about doing more formal studies in the future on the impacts experienced by staff and patients to further humanize the healthcare experience.

Diana believes that design could be used to mitigate medication. As architects, we have the opportunity and responsibility to look at architecture projects as prescriptions that can enhance or support a healthier life. Learn why the built environment is a medical intervention in this conversation with Diana.


Time stamps:

[01:48] – Dr. Diana Anderson says a trip to Scandinavia sparked her interest in healthcare environments.

[04:23] – What are the impacts of healthcare environments on staff, such as nurses and doctors?

[06:27] – Diana expresses her thoughts on humanizing the healthcare experience.

[08:03] – A built environment can potentially have a more positive impact than medicine.

[09:47] – Diana explains the 5-M model of geriatric healthcare.

[12:43] – For long-term care institutions, which strategies are leading built environment innovation?

[15:22] – The built environment is a medical intervention that deserves ethical scrutiny to ensure value.

[17:49] – What questions would architects ask in relation to designing healthcare environments?

[20:07] – Diana talks about her Clinicians for Design initiative.

[21:54] – Can architects work with augmented reality or 3D printing to test healthcare environments?

[23:16] – Diana predicts future conversations focused on staff design, data-driven design, and technology.

[25:04] – What is Diana’s advice for anyone pursuing architecture? Why does she believe in trusting your gut?

[28:05] – Thank you Diana for redefining architecture as a medical intervention.


Guy Geier

Guy Geier FAIA, FIIDA, LEED is Managing Partner of FXCollaborative and host of the architecture 5 10 20 podcast.

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