Philadelphia University

05/11/2017 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/11/2017 14:28

PhilaU Architecture and TJU Students Develop Healthcare Solutions Through Design Thinking


PhilaU architecture students Mina Bellare and Abbie Gall presented their novel cancer patient infusion bay concept.

Demonstrating the power of bringing together architecture and medical students, Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) collaborated in a unique course this semester to develop real-world improvements in healthcare delivery.

The students developed nine projects, two concentrating on cancer center redesign to improve patient experiences, a mobile care unit utilizing buses to deliver primary care and community health education, a redesign of the Jefferson emergency department, and five inpatient space improvement and façade retrofit projects.

Ten fifth-year architecture students and 18 second-year medical students participated as part of PhilaU's Interdisciplinary Design and Experimental Architecture (IDEA) studio, led by Kihong Ku, associate professor of architecture, and the JeffDESIGN program, led by Bon Ku, M.D., associate professor in TJU's department of emergency medicine.

Incorporating the real-world context of healthcare delivery, the students conducted research on existing Jefferson Hospitals spaces, identified specific spatial issues and developed architectural solutions that could improve patient and staff experiences and community relations for Jefferson Hospitals.

'From an architectural standpoint, we focused on investigating the impact of architectural environments on health and creating architectural environments that support the health and well-being of individuals,' said Kihong Ku, the Volpe Family Term Chair for Architectural Innovation. 'The co-curricular activities helped us understand the changing healthcare delivery environment, including the growing emphasis on patient experiences, prevention through design and technology innovations in healthcare.'

To broaden the students' understanding of both healthcare delivery and architecture, a number of guest presenters and reviewers participated throughout the semester, including Matt Trowbridge, M.D., associate professor, University of Virginia School of Medicine; Jonathan Bykowski, principal, and Laura Silvoy, senior associate, at Array Architects in Conshohocken; Stefan Knust, senior associate, Josh Frankel, associate partner, and Jacob Reidel, architect, from New York-based ENNEAD architects; and Rich Webster, Jefferson Hospitals president. Students also received feedback from Carol Hermann, associate professor of architecture at PhilaU, and Hyun-Tae Jung, associate professor of architecture at Lehigh University.


PhilaU and TJU students created architectural environments that support health and well-being.

PhilaU student Nick Williamson found it rewarding and beneficial for his career to work with the TJU students. 'We had to figure out the best way to communicate concepts to people outside of architecture,' he said. 'That's what happens in the real world as many clients won't have a background in design.'

The architecture studio was organized into five phases: general research into health and architecture; healthcare facility design research; site, building and program analysis of existing Jefferson Hospitals buildings; schematic design; and prototyping. Each phase included joint classes with architecture and medical students that involved in-class teamwork and project reviews, which took place at PhilaU and in the Vault Health Design Lab at TJU.

For the course, architecture students delivered final design schemes and concept mockups, some of which included sensing and actuating technology to create interactive prototypes. Eight of the projects were supported by the Eileen Martinson '86 Fund for the Undergraduate Capstone Experience.

'This collaboration was successful in letting both disciplines establish common terminologies and communication protocols and understand the disciplinary differences and common goals,' said Kihong Ku, who has led PhilaU's IDEA Studio since 2016 with the support of a National Council of Architectural Registration Boards award.