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The AIA College of Fellows Awards 2005 Latrobe Fellowship to Chong Partners, Kaiser Permanente, and University of California at Berkeley

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows has awarded its 2005 Latrobe Fellowship of $100,000 to Chong Partners Architecture, Kaiser Permanente, and the University of California at Berkeley for a research study on “Multi-cultural Influences on the Design of a Healthcare Setting.”

The research will incorporate techniques from psychology, sociology and neuroscience, building on the 2003 Latrobe Fellowship to the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture that studied how the human brain perceives architecture at the biomedical level. The grant, named for architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, is awarded biennially by the AIA College of Fellows for research leading to significant advances in the architectural profession. The 2005 research will involve an unusual collaboration of architect, client, and university to determine specific knowledge of how hospital design affects the recovery and healing for people of different cultures.

It will combine traditional research with new applications to develop a model that architects and designers can apply to address cultural diversity in the design of any public building. The selection jury for the 2005 Latrobe Fellowship included Jury Chair and 2003 AIA Topaz Medallion Recipient Marvin J. Malecha, FAIA, as well as 2002 AIA Gold Medalist Michael Graves, FAIA, John Hartray, FAIA, John Zeisel, PhD, and Lawrence J. Leis, FAIA.

The group convened at Graves’ office in Princeton, N.J. for their discussion and deliberation.

“I was so honored to sit on this jury and have a chance to review the proposals that came in for this year’s Latrobe Fellowship,” said Malecha. “Research and scientific discovery are so important to the growth and future of the profession. When completed, the collaborative research proposed by Chong Partners on healthcare facilities will provide architects with a greater body of knowledge, enabling the design of buildings that are inherently better for the health, healing, and safety of the people in them. It brings us one step closer to a time when our intuition will be supplemented by scientific evidence. Research is the means, and in the end this is all about better and more functional design for all building types.”

“We greatly appreciate the AIA College of Fellows for selecting this project,” said Gordon Chong, FAIA, founder and president of Chong Partners and project director, noting that his firm has a longstanding commitment to research-based design.

“We design and build our hospitals and other public buildings to last many years so we can’t afford to risk they will be obsolete before they are completed. Rather than experience and intuition, we in the design community need evidence-based knowledge about how design impacts behavior, perception, and outcomes of building users. Ultimately we believe the information we derive from this study will reshape the architectural profession as it works within today’s increasingly multicultural world,” Chong added.

“Kaiser Foundation Health Plans and Hospitals are in the midst of one of the largest building programs in the history of American health care. With this program, we have a one time opportunity to profoundly impact the care experience for our diverse membership in these new facilities. The Latrobe Fellowship is one of the many efforts we have underway to think through every design element, color, material, and piece of equipment to make sure they work together to create an environment of reassurance and care,” says Christine Malcolm, Senior Vice President of Hospital Strategy and National Facilities Services for Kaiser Permanente.

Kaiser Permanente’s commitment goes well beyond the initial research phase, according to Barbara Denton, National Facilities Services Team Manager and Kaiser Permanente Latrobe team leader. Kaiser Permanente will provide $15,000 in additional funding and $200,000 of in-kind support covering mockup design and construction, medical staff, lab and research support, focus groups and more. It also will offer access to its data from other research projects as well as the participation of its medical staff. Pilot studies of the research will continue after the duration of the two-year Latrobe grant.

"We are honored to be recipients of the Latrobe Fellowship," said Ron Knox, vice president and chief diversity officer at Kaiser Permanente. "The partnership that will form between UC Berkeley, Chong Partners Architecture and Kaiser Permanente symbolizes the critical role that facility design plays in creating a warm, welcoming and supportive environment for our members, and its importance in facilitating access to care. By viewing every aspect of the care experience from our members' cultural perspectives, we are better able to provide superior, culturally informed care and service."

“The role of research in architecture has been a central issue for a number of years and this Latrobe Fellowship gives us the opportunity to create and test a model of research for the profession,” said Dr. W. Mike Martin, FAIA, team leader for UC Berkeley and professor and chair of the Department of Architecture.

“This study will give us credible evidence about how design is influenced by behavioral predictors that improve the patient experience and provide valuable knowledge to the healthcare industry.” The study will begin with data base research to be followed by behavioral science and neuroscience measurement in several functioning patient units at Kaiser Permanente. This will be compared with intuitive/experiential information gained over the years by the study partners. The final phase will be development of programmatic guidelines that can inform the design of patient units. Kaiser hopes to implement these guidelines in its extensive building program and then continue to evaluate impacts on patient and staff well being. According to Chong, “It is important to the AIA that the results can be used by architects in work other than healthcare. To address this, the research team will monitor the model of collaborative research throughout the two-year process, assessing how each of the three organizations can add to the quality of the results.”

Other members of the project team include Robert Brandt, AIA, team leader for Chong Partners, and research experts, Dr. Eve Edelstein, FAAA, Chong Partners; Dr. Robert Mangel, Kaiser Foundation; and Dr. Galen Cranz, UC Berkeley. Additional Kaiser Permanente team members are: Dave Newhouse, MD, MPH, Assistant Physician-in-Chief, Fremont Medical Center/GSAA; John Kouletsis, Director, National Facilities Services, National Director of Planning and Design Services; Katie Holmes, Service Enhancement Leader, Northern California; Abelardo Ruiz, National Facilities Services, Sr. Project Manager, Care Environment, and Gayle Tang, Director, National Diversity, National Linguistic and Cultural Programs.

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