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University of Miami Architecture Students Are Shaping The Future of Healthcare Design

Student projects mirror demands of a modern healthcare architect

University of Miami Architecture Students Are Shaping The Future of Healthcare Design

By Aurelio Posada, AIA, Associate Principal

This past fall, I had a great visit at HuntonBrady Architects’ office in Orlando with Rodolphe el-Khoury, new Dean of the University of Miami’s School of Architecture. Our shared enthusiasm for modern architecture in healthcare settings resulted in an invitation to critique student work at the University’s new healthcare design studio.

(Left) © Flikr Creative Commons Ines Hegedus-Garcia, University of Miami. (Right) Collaborating with our architecture peers at UM. From left: Professor Veruska Vasconez, Aurelio Posada, Professor Deborah Franqui, Chuck Cole

Chuck Cole, FAIA, FACHA, President and healthcare leader of HuntonBrady Architects, joined me on our first visit to UM for the student critique. We arrived in Coral Gables on a typical hot and rainy Florida day. There was no mistaking the architecture school’s home on campus. The Jorge M. Perez Architectural Center is a neo-traditional, white stucco, octagonal building designed by architect Leon Krier. It’s intimate in scale but looms large amongst the campus’ largely flat-roofed, modern buildings. Krier is a world renowned architectural theorist and innovator in the New Urbanism movement whose work and ideas have influenced the school.

The students were grouped into four teams who tackled different healthcare design projects over the course of the semester. These vibrant students are led by a faculty team from a wide range of disciplines including Dr. Deborah Franqui, Elizabeth Plater Zyberck, Ed Hengtgen and Veruska Vasconez.

Each project encompassed different scales and levels of complexity, including the design of an urban master plan, a primary healthcare clinic in an existing building, and a new digital device, product or process which would enhance healthcare. Each group did a digital presentation and explained their ideas and solutions to the jury.

At first I thought the ambitious scope of the projects were overreaching for students. But the teams showed such an interest in covering the wide range of challenges present in architectural design projects. The students approached their projects in a holistic way that closely modeled the macro and micro levels of thought a working architect must utilize on a daily basis. They also showed a keen understanding of larger factors affecting architecture in this generation, such as climate change and how rising water levels will shape the future of South Florida. After all the presentations, we engaged in a lively round table discussion about the course itself- from its syllabus to the breadth and depth of project types included.

I was very pleased with the level of discussion, the commitment, passion and excitement for healthcare architecture shared by faculty and students in Coral Gables. This growing program is very important for UM and I believe it will have a positive impact on the quality of healthcare design in our country. Many thanks to Dean el-Khoury for the opportunity to be a part of such an important initiative.

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About Aurelio Posada, AIA, Associate Principal

Mr. Posada has more than 25 years of architectural experience in North America, South America and Europe and is internationally recognized for his participation in design competitions. Combining his technical skills, imagination and artistic talent, he works with the team to introduce concepts early in the design process. He is involved in both the exterior and interior architecture and works closely with design, production, and construction administration teams to assure design continuity. Incorporating the building’s function, form and structure, he is able to provide cost-sensitive, visually-appealing solutions to our clients’ needs in different markets.

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