This global design juggernaut, which is headquartered in Omaha, employs the majority of its 1,400 employees serving clients in the healthcare sector. The recent acquisition of a German firm added 200 to the team worldwide. “We are really trying to create a global practice,” explains Hank Adams, director of the firm’s healthcare program. Adams notes how international work, especially in Australia, China, the Middle East, and Europe, has blunted the drag of uncertainty this year in the U.S. market. Looking forward, Adams anticipates business will run at current levels through 2014.
Lessons learned internationally often inform the firm’s work domestically. In Toronto, thanks to Health Canada’s forward-looking investments in technology and IT infrastructure, HDR has begun to help the Humber River Regional Hospital go paperless. American hospitals are sure to follow. Other innovations stateside can be as simple as planning to optimize adjacencies for related departments—and to encourage efficiencies in the distribution of supplies.
Some of the firm’s solutions are more obvious to patients. Interiors have evolved to become simple, welcoming, and soothing—rather than “overly designed.” Adams explains, “Our clients are asking us to create branded environments without going overboard on construction costs.” For merging and growing medical systems, he notes the desirability of a branded environment that speaks to the quality of care delivered. So a new center designed for mothers and babies in Minnesota boasts a distinct spalike feeling.
Months of conversations with the local community in Chicago recently guided HDR’s design for a mixed-use campus there. The designers learned that the neighborhood lacked services to promote health in a broader sense. Their proposal anticipates new sports fields, a grocer to sell healthy foods, and a community center that compliments the new hospital, which will serve as the campus anchor. Adams calls the experiment “an example where the provider has broadened the view of what healthcare means.”