Hospitals embrace the ‘architecture of wellness’


So, too, has the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center at the College of William & Mary, according to Kelly Crace, a psychologist and associate vice president for health and wellness at the college in Williamsburg, Virginia. Completed in 2018, the $19 million, 31,000-square-foot center is sandwiched between a wildlife refuge and a garden, with enough glass for panoramic views of it all. It houses the college’s student health center, counseling center, office of health promotion and recreational areas for activities like yoga and art therapy.

“We spent a couple of years researching and trying to understand the architecture of wellness, the architecture of healing, and what that might look like,” Crace said. The school decided to house its health center in the building, he said, because “nature provides that three-dimensional space. Nature provides us the opportunity to engage in a very healing way.”

Many organizations don’t have the infrastructure to build from scratch or the license to make big biophilic modifications. NYC Health + Hospitals, which still occupies 19th-century buildings, has connected its patients to nature—among other themes—through artwork since the 1930s. The health system is the city’s largest public art collector and displays more than 600 murals and 3,000 works of art across its 11 facilities.

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Despite the limitations of some buildings, Oscar Gonzalez, the health system’s senior assistant vice president of capital development, hopes the organization will explore more wellness-focused designs down the line.

“There’s something wonderful about being able to walk into a space and say, ‘Wow, I just entered the lobby and I feel like I’m gonna get healthy just by walking in. Nobody’s plugged anything into me, nothing has been done, except walking into a space that makes me feel good,’” he said. “That’s the direction we want to go.



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