Skip directly to content

NCARB Award Studio: Urban Healthcare

Phil Ben talking to students in workshop

Fourth year students are currently designing an Ambulatory Care Center in downtown Birmingham, AL.  The design of the new health clinic focuses attention on thoughtful urban design and architecture while integrating issues of public health, project funding, construction cost, project delivery and long-term energy performance.

Recipient of a $20,000 NCARB Award in 2012, the studio outlined by Prof. Christian Dagg and Prof. Kevin Moore integrates non-faculty practitioners into the curriculum to bridge the gap between education and practice to better prepare students for future careers as architects.

Based on previous fourth year urban hospital studios, this year’s project contends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may generate a new typological form for healthcare facilities.  “It is exciting to have students work on this project as a form of speculative research,” explains Dagg.  The studio also builds on the momentum of the spectacular revitalization of downtown Birmingham to rethink delivering primary care to the poor and working class. 

Consulting practitioners have helped develop the project to bridge the gap between education and practice.  Patrick Davis, FAIA, Vice President at CMH Architects, detailed the program for the “Super Clinic,” and he has worked with students to tackle its complexities.  James Scott, founder of codeaccess, and Dawn Mixon-Bennett, Senior Project Manager at Perkins+Will, have also met with students throughout the semester to incorporate technical requirements into their design concept.

Individual studios directed by APLA faculty Rebecca O’Neal Dagg, Jeffrey Collins, Scott Finn and Kevin Moore started the semester with a master plan of the rapidly changing district near the Railroad Reservation Park, Barons Baseball Stadium, Children’s Hospital and University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.  Rather than a singular building, the studio connects the idea of urban healthcare to a walkable, diverse and sustainable city district.

To develop these urban/healthcare connections, additional practitioners have worked with students in a series of workshops.  As Moore explains, “Our non-faculty practitioners understand the value of strong team building, and they have encouraged incorporating additional experts including public health officials and licensed landscape architects, interior designers and engineers to make informed and meaningful decisions.”

Workshop 1, “Innovations in Healthcare,” featured Dr. Max Michael, Dean of UAB School of Public Health, and an impressive list of architects, planners and landscape architects to discuss a district master plan.  Included were Cheryl Morgan, Director of Urban Studio; Ben Wieseman, Associate at KPS Group, Inc.; Jason Fondren, Senior Associate at KPS Group, Inc.; Philip Amthor with the City of Birmingham; Lea Ann Macknally, President of Macknally Land Design; Matt Leavall, Alabama Innovation Engine; and Elizabeth Barbaree-Tasker of REV Birmingham, Inc..

Workshop 2, “Life Enhancing Life Safety,” helped raise awareness of the architect’s responsibilities for the public health, safety, and welfare.  James Scott described the theory behind fire and life safety codes, and Dr. Sheila Bosch, Director of Research at Gresham, Smith and Partners, explained the emerging field of evidence-based design.

Finally, a “Structural Integration” workshop with Dennis Tow and Shepard Stuart of Uzun & Case Engineers covered constructional systems and structural efficiency through a review of preliminary framing plans.  The studio will continue for an additional 5 weeks in the Spring following the 52nd Annual Alagasco Competition on December 5th and 6th.

View the Gallery of Student Work