Book Recommendation for designing healthy workspaces

Book Recommendation for designing healthy workspaces

Book Recommendation for designing healthy workspaces

Built to Thrive: How to Build the Best Workplaces for Health, Well-Being, & Productivity

Book Recommendation for designing healthy workspacesAuthors:  Galen Cranz Ph.D., Gretchen Gscheidle – Design Director, Gervais Tompkin AIA, LEED AP, Anthony Ravitz LEED AP, John Swartzberg MD, FACP, Kevin Kelly RA, PCAF, Sally Augustin Ph.D., Cristina  Banks Ph.D., Isabelle Thibau MPH, Caitlin DeClercq Ph.D.,

This book is the product of the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces’ (ICHW) inaugural Science to Practice conference in 2017 titled, “How to Build the Best Workplaces for Health and Well-Being.” In the conference, we brought together experts from different disciplines and from both research and practice to attempt to address the gaps in knowledge. Here, in this book, each author provides a perspective on the design of workplaces built for health and well-being, with the different perspectives together creating the knowledge base for successful design.

Cristina Banks, Ph.D. | Director, Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workspaces, School of Public Health and Senior Lecturer, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley Dr. Banks holds a Doctorate in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. She and Dr. Sheldon Zedeck founded the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces in 2012. She brings  40 years of entrepreneurial, academic, and consulting experience to the Center in leading strategy and supporting the day-to-day operations of the Center. Her consulting expertise and knowledge of work and organizations help guide Center activities toward research and practice breakthroughs that will contribute significantly to the development of healthy workplaces and the promotion of worker health, well-being, and productivity.

Isabelle Thibau, MPH | Core Researcher and Leadership Team Member, Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workspaces, University of California, Berkeley Isabelle Thibaut holds a Master’s in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. She has served in key project development and management roles within ICHW since its inception. At ICHW, she applies a public health lens to research and consulting on workplace health and well-being issues. She joined the ICHW leadership team in 2017.

Caitlin DeClercq, Ph.D. | Assistant Director, Graduate Student Services and Programs, Center for Teaching &Learning, Columbia University. Dr. DeClercq holds a Doctorate in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master’s of Science in Education from the University of Rochester. Caitlin worked at ICHW as a Core Researcher in 2016 and was part of the leadership team from 2017-to 2018. Her contributions to research span multiple disciplines including education, architecture, interior design, health, and sedentary work. She is a published author with articles in the Journal of Academic Librarianship and Planning for Higher Education as well as contributed chapters in Ethnography for Designers and Experiencing Architecture in the Nineteenth Century.

Gretchen Gscheidle | Design Director, Herman MillerGretchen Gscheidle holds a Master of Science degree in Product Design and Development from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Industrial Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She led the corporate research function from 2010-to 2018 where Gretchen’s expertise ranged from product design and workplace applications to qualitative and quantitative research methods. She also led the team that researched and supported the new Living Office offering. She now leads design strategy for the firm.

Sally Augustin, Ph.D. | Principal, Design With Science, Inc. Sally Augustin holds a Doctorate in Environmental Psychology from Claremont Graduate School and a Master’s in Business Administration from Northwestern University. She is an internationally recognized design psychologist, specializing in person-centered design. Her knowledge and expertise regarding the interior design of commercial buildings and residences are applied all over the world. Among others, she wrote Place Advantage, which is considered a “classic” for interior designers.

Galen Cranz, Ph.D. | Professor Emerita, School of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley Dr. Cranz holds a Doctorate in Sociology from the University of Chicago and is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. She teaches social and cultural approaches to architecture and urban design in the College of Environmental Design. She has written and edited several books including The Body, the City, and the Buildings In Between and The Chair, both highly used references for body-conscious design. She introduced ethnography into design research for which she has been highly praised, including receiving the Career Award, the highest award given by the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA).

John Swartzberg, MD, FACP | Clinical Professor Emeritus, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, and Chair of the Editorial Boards, UC Berkeley Wellness Letter and Health After 50 Newsletter. Dr. Swartzberg holds an MD from the David Geffen School of  Medicine at UCLA and specializes in internal medicine and infectious diseases. He teaches in the joint MD-MPH Program preparing medical students to learn about population health and prevention. He oversees the writing and publication of two highly acclaimed newsletters that have guided thousands of readers on health and wellness issues since  2001.

Kevin Kelly, RA, PCAF | Senior Architect, WorkPlace+ Project Management Office, General Services Administration, U.S. Government. Kevin Kelly holds a Master’s of Architecture from Catholic University and has worked as a Senior Architect for the General Services Administration (GSA, a government agency) in Washington, D.C. Mr. Kelly and his team developed a workplace scorecard for assessing developers of GSA properties with respect to the design quality of the building. Through Mr. Kelly’s guidance, the GSA stipulates specific features required in building contracts to ensure that quality is built into six critical areas of design: pre-design and planning, equitable workspace, health and comfort, flexibility, connectivity and mobility, reliability and sustainability, and sense of place.

Gervais Tompkin, AIA, LEED AP | Principal, Consulting Practice Area Leader, and Design Strategy Studio Director, Gensler Gervais Tompkin holds a Bachelor’s of Environmental Design from the University of  Colorado at Boulder. He is a nationally recognized leader in Gensler’s  Workplace Sector. Although he is based in San Francisco, his work spans the world, as he oversees global services for some of the world’s best-known tech companies. Gervais has a passion for research that has led him down a multidisciplinary path in the world of real estate strategy and design. He is driven by a desire to understand the relationship between real estate, technology, and behavior. His writing has appeared in Fast Company, IIDA Perspective, and International Design Magazine, among others.

Anthony Ravitz, LEED AP | Real Estate & Workplace Services Green Team Lead, Anthony Ravitz holds a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from Stanford University. He is Google’s team leader on green building as part of the Real Estate and Workplace Services team. He spearheads Google’s initiative for building healthy, eco-friendly workspaces.

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Art in Healthcare

Art in Healthcare

Art in Healthcare

You assess need and find that, indeed, there is one. You review and analyze financials, and consult with colleagues, subject matter experts, and close advisors. You take time to examine options, to compare and contrast pros and cons. And after such thoughtful consideration, after you’ve determined that all evidence points to a choice that is proven to be reliable—one that has a strong and measurable impact—you act.

You purchase the Burberry suit. It just hangs better. The material by itself is a wondrous experience. The mirror is your best friend. You feel really good in it. Of course, now you require accessories: shoes, a belt, a shirt or blouse, a tie or scarf, perhaps a pair of socks or some hosiery. You breeze into Wal-Mart, purchase them on clearance, in and out in 15 minutes.

What is wrong with this picture? And, what does it have to do with art in healthcare? As beautifully designed healthcare facilities are built new or expanded, art is generally lumped in with furniture, fixtures, and equipment. This is the end of the building cycle. Because of this, art is frequently given little forethought and is consequently reduced to a package of ubiquitous budget prints that conform to guiding principles that are, in practice, more form than substance.

Art is arguably the first thing people react to when they approach or enter a facility.

When the process for selecting and integrating art with healthcare design fully considers context, art adds value well beyond a visually aesthetic appeal.

Art in Healthcare

Leaving the consideration of art until after the design is complete and construction is nearing final touches is much like buying a fine suit and adorning it with cheap accessories. The potential impact of the accessories is lost, and the quality of the fine suit is diminished.

Today, healthcare design is increasingly guided by evidence-based design. The goal is to inform a comprehensive design approach to create a healing environment. Patterns of movement, exposure to natural light, inside-out views of natural settings, accommodations for patients and their families, colors, textures, technology, electronic media, art, and more, all play a role.


In this environment, elements of design each earn their way and contribute to a sense of place that fosters confidence, comfort, and healing, and, as such, become important allies to healthcare providers.

Art in Healthcare

There is also a clear trend toward hospitality-influenced design in healthcare. The sterile, institutional atmosphere of previous generations of medical facilities is now understood to be counterproductive in many ways. Twenty-first-century consumers of medical services know and expect more. The evidence-based design addresses the full human experience, the psychological, intellectual, and physical response to a space and to the activities that occur in the space.

The benefit of art in healthcare is in the experience of the art. While it may be dismissed by some as mere decoration, decades of research in Europe and the United States conclude otherwise. The role art plays in an overall strategy to produce healing environments has been measured against health and economic outcomes. They include:

  •  Clinical outcomes, such as length of hospital stay, intake of pain medication, or biological markers like blood pressure and heart rate;
  •  Patient-, family-, and employee-based outcomes, such as patients’ rate levels of perceived pain, satisfaction with healthcare services or working conditions, etc.; and
  •  Economic outcomes related to the cost of patient care, cost of employee turnover, etc.

Art is a positive distraction, directly or indirectly, in a variety of situations. It has been shown in a growing body of research to measurably reduce:

  •  Patient and employee anxiety and stress;
  •  Pain perception as measured by physiological outcomes, such as blood  pressure, heart rate, and skin conductivity response, in addition to self-report measures like pain-rating scales and surveys;
  •  The need for analgesic medication;
  •  Depression associated with chemotherapy, dialysis, and other invasive treatments;
  •  Non-operative treatment times;
  •  Operative recovery times;
  •  Mental healthcare treatment times;
  •  Abusive behaviors by mental healthcare patients;
  •  Length of hospital stay; and
  •  Employee turnover, missed days;

It also measurably increases:

  •  Patient and employee satisfaction;
  •  Patient, visitor, and employee perception of quality of care; and
  •  Brand recognition.


Art in HealthcareAnother measure of the effectiveness of a particular selection of art is its ability to maintain interest; it is an art that doesn’t run out, doesn’t become invisible and irrelevant. Art, when appropriately selected and placed, has durability. It engages the viewers, transports them, delights and amuses them, calms and reassures them, day after day.

So, what does it mean to “appropriately select and place art?” The context must drive the design conversation.

Healthcare facilities can be specialized or can house a variety of treatment centers. Though there may be similarities, art that is appropriate for pediatrics will not necessarily be appropriate for oncology. Art for assisted-living centers may differ dramatically from memory care centers. And, with a focus on impression management and wayfinding, the process for selecting and placing art in lobbies, waiting rooms, and the labyrinth of hallways, also varies.

Demographics and local traditions, too, influence selections; for instance, which ethnic groups reside in the communities a facility serves and how is local culture expressed?

The value of art as a positive contributor to employee and customer satisfaction, wayfinding, and, most importantly, healthcare outcomes, varies directly with the integrity of the process used to select and place it.

Art is most effective when approached contextually with a thorough understanding of community, organizational culture, and operations, and through a collaborative design process with building, interior, and landscape architecture.

Finally, art that makes a difference does require an investment. A rule of thumb for budgeting turn-key art services is 1-2% of the construction budget; a small percentage of cost when measured against overall contribution.

Budgets in this range allow for art plans that align and integrate with organizational mission and the intentions of structural and operational design. A thoughtful art program, one with the intention to create a preferred experience, can raise the bar from beautiful, efficient, and effective to extraordinarily beautiful, efficient, and effective.

By Michael Lehman  December 1, 2011

Art in Healthcare