Maintaining the Spirit of Integrated Space

In 2003, I was contracted as an integrative spaces specialist to be part of a team whose focus was designing and building a new hospital.  All facets of the project were analyzed from an integrative/Feng Shui perspective—-color, roads, office placements, landscape, entry experience, patient rooms, etc.

It was important to the leadership team that the hospital be infused with not only the obvious intention of healing, but also a feeling of amazement, of wonder, of home.

After all this time, I am still involved with the hospital even though there is no new construction currently happening.  I am now on a team called the Campus Facility Planning Committee.  We meet to discuss how employees are using the space after 13+ years in the hospital, what patients are saying with regard to the healthcare facility, and how to expand within the existing walls as patient numbers increase.  We are doing this through the filter of the original intention—-healing, amazement, wonder and a feeling of home.

The unspoken understanding among the team members is that the spirit of a place affects more deeply than its appearance.  This doesn’t mean there isn’t a clutter-free directive put out for reception counters, or that gouged wallpaper isn’t repaired, or that chairs aren’t recovered regularly.

It does mean that these smaller decisions are propelled by the over-arching spirit with which the hospital was built.

For example, here’s what we’re discussing now:

  • What color carpet would be idea to install temporarily, until the whole area is renovated? Despite its short tenure, the “right” carpet color is important in order to underscore that, no matter what, we care about the details.
  • How can we create better way-finding for check-in at the front entry? Even though it’s obvious where the reception is located, one more strategically placed sign might make it easier for patients.
  • Can we create a better experience for patients when they walk by an unfortunately-placed column? We are discussing how we can create a pleasant moment because of that column not despite
  • Where’s the best drop-down desk for a visiting physician? We are concerned that she feel comfortable and a part of the team on the two days she’s at the hospital—–helping her be a better doctor.

Incorporating integrative space isn’t just a big-picture discussion; it filters down to the smallest detail.  Here is an example of a health facility that is intent on keeping the spirit of their space alive and well, no matter how small the action. Their increasing patient numbers speak to how this is working out for them.