The Architecture of Life: A Talk @ Texas A & M Architecture School

The Architecture of Life - Christopher K. Travis

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Talk @ Texas A & M Architecture School

Pity the poor architecture students at Texas A & M University! About 80 of them were forced by their professor to listen to me for almost an hour a couple of weeks back.

The talk was great fun and the students seemed to really enjoy it. The course is called "Social and Behavioral Factors in Design," and was taught by Xuemei Zhu Ph.D. , a delightful young woman who works at A & M's Center for Health Systems & Design who was recently quoted in Time Magazine.

The lecture was set up by Lou Tassinary Ph.D. Lou is the Associate Dean for Research at A & M's architecture school, and the Director of its Environmental Psychophysiological Laboratory.

He is an expert on perception and other subjects on which I speculate. He sat in the back of the room during my lecture and I half expected him to jump up at any moment and contradict me since I wandered into areas in which he has much more expertise than me, but apparently I did not err in ways that were too onerous.

Afterwards he took Dr. Zhu and I out for an enjoyable lunch and they both asked me if I would consider lecturing again this coming semester.

Of course I said "yes." There is nothing I like more than preaching to design professionals about the importance of human factors to design. It was great fun terrifying those undergraduates not only with the realities of architectural practice, but also with the challenges involved in collecting criteria for design from clients who are often less than rational in their choices when involved in a project.

A & M's Center for Health Systems and Design is the child of one of the "deans" of therapeutic, human-centered design, Dr. Roger Ulrich, who conducted the first rigorous scientific study of evidence-based design which was published in Science way back in 1984.

Dr. Ulrich's research has since been highly influential in the design of hospitals. According to Dr. Ulrich, the American Medical Association (AMA) made it headline news of the week. “This highlighted, along with other evidence in the emerging field of mind-body medicine, the need to consider a broader picture, including physical environment, of factors that affect patient outcomes and the health of patients,” Ulrich says.

The Lucile Packard’s Children’s Hospital at Stanford, a celebrated design, was expressly influenced by Ulrich’s Science article. According to Ulrich, “That research evidence was used to justify the design to provide views of gardens and nature and access to the outdoors for patients, families, and staff. You could tie dollar benefits to aesthetic amenities that previously had been considered nice-to-have luxuries, and we began to sketch out the basic elements of evidence-based design.” (Source: Healthcare Financial Management Association)

So being asked to lecture in such an august setting was an honor. My thanks to all for the experience.


SARFRAS said...

Hi I have a few blogs to share -- Live TV,Radio,Technology news -- Everything about Goa ( Tourists Paradise ) -- Gadgets,List of websites,Tools

Do check it out......