Planning, whether at a departmental, master plan or system level,
is a process of creating and exploring options and refining and selecting the best solution to meet the program requirements.
Once the characteristics of space needed have been defined, the planning process defines the best physical arrangement of
Planning begins where the programming ends and moves from defining the problem to creating the appropriate
solution. Many projects in health care facilities are a mix of expansion and renovation so that early tasks need to include
an assessment of the long term usability of existing resources. Often the availability of adequate building systems infrastructure
(or lack thereof) is a key determinant of a project’s financial feasibility.
In planning across multiple
hospitals within a system, the condition and capacity of the existing resources is an important consideration. While the existing
facilities should not drive the decision-making, they should be taken into account when evaluating program consolidation issues.
Working interactively with the hospital team, we prepare block diagrams that show graphically the best arrangements
of the rooms, departments or buildings to satisfy the program requirements. The intent at this stage of a project is to quickly
explore alternative concepts for organizing space and workflow. The technique also works well in renovation projects exploring
layout options on a base existing floor plan where structural constraints can be taken into consideration.
important concept is defining the type and amount of future flexibility needed. The options explored will vary in the degree
to which they are expandable, adaptable or changeable. The appropriate solution must reflect the probability of future change
and look for ways to respond.
Planning of buildings and campuses also needs to address site, circulation and parking
issues as well as future growth and change. Separation of the types of traffic coming to a facility is often a complex problem
to resolve. Issues of orientation, wayfinding and security are of importance in meeting the needs of all users. These factors
need to be considered in both the short and long term development.
We believe that key to a successful process
is establishing early the criteria against which potential solutions will be judged. This enables a structured decision process
which helps maintain the focus on the organization’s mission and objectives. While functionality is a basic criterion,
other factors, including design goals, image, phasing, capital costs and operating expenses, need to be taken into account
in the decision-making.