Our immediate answer is, “Yes, it is different.” That being said, there’s much that healthcare design and general building design should have in common – predominantly the goal of creating sustainable buildings that are good for mind, body and soul.

Last month, the AIA hosted a Design and Health Summit at their headquarters in Washington, D.C. Guest speaker Tye Farrow, principal of Toronto-based Farrow Partnership, spoke regarding the role architects, designers, and building professionals play in designing buildings that are healthy for their occupants, explaining that while it isn’t the same as healthcare design, designing healthy buildings should be an overarching goal of every design/build project.

Mature man treating asthma with inhaler

Asthma is on the rise and indoor air quality is often more toxic than the air outside. Source: Shutterstock.com

Farrow pointed out some striking facts such as:

  • Asthma rates are on the rise and indoor air quality (IAQ) is often more toxic than the air outside.
  • Children who live close to freeways are three-times more likely to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder than those who live far away.
  • Obesity rates are on the rise and childhood obesity rates have tripled over the last few years.

We can help to improve these and other physical/emotional health issues by designing buildings that combat them. For example:

  • Low- to no-VOC finishes should become the standard, reducing off-gasing and improving IAQ.
  • In our sedentary culture, we can place emphasis on stairways and tuck elevators off to the sidelines, encouraging people to move more.
  • How about incorporating courtyards, gardens, and beautiful outdoor environments to encourage occupants to get outside, walk more and enjoy more time in nature?

image 2 (Shutterstock) – people walking up the stairs in public building

The more holistic approach we take with the buildings we design and build, the more we do our part to create healthier environments for everyone. Designing for health should be a goal for both private homes and commercial buildings, not just the ones that are designated for healthcare. Contact LS&A Architecture interiors to begin designing your building with an emphasis on health.