SOURCES | CONTACT
Even as evidence-based design
continues to gain more traction and prominence in professional design circles, to date much of the work in the field has been concentrated in hospitals and patient rooms. For Tama Duffy Day, national interior design healthcare leader with Perkins+Will, designing a facility for the Arlington Free Clinic in Arlington, Va. provided the perfect opportunity to put those design principles to work in a new setting.
The completed facility, which takes its inspiration from a flower by surrounding a community-based "core" with four essential clinic functions, demonstrates that evidence-based design can succeed outside of more formal medical settings. As an added bonus, a strong collaborative focus among the design and construction teams enabled the Arlington Free Clinic to qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED) Gold certification—one level higher than originally specified—making it the first LEED Gold health care facility in Arlington County, as well as the first LEED Gold free clinic in the nation.
The facility makes use of numerous evidence-based design strategies, such as allowing for increased levels of natural light in the clinic's waiting room, incorporating a sink in every exam room to reduce the possibility of infection, and laying out the facility's areas—including a nurse station and pharmacy—in a straightforward way that improves wayfinding and reduces stress.
As the LEED certification implies, sustainable features are similarly intertwined in the clinic's concept. Water usage was reduced by 30 percent and the HVAC system was designed to reduce energy usage by 40 percent, all while providing
better indoor air quality. More than 85 percent of all construction waste was recycled and no materials with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were allowed on the job site. In an effort to reduce transportation effects on the environment, 47 percent of all the products and 100 percent of the furniture used in the clinic were regionally manufactured within 500 miles of the site.
Part of the project's LEED certification also resulted from several innovation credits received for the installation of 25 signage plaques around the facility,
aimed at educating the clinic's 500 volunteers and thousands of patients about its sustainable design. Showcased in both English and Spanish, they describe topics such as recycled material, energy efficiency, water use reduction, green power and indoor air quality.
But perhaps the most transforming addition to the new facility is its central "community" element, a multi-purpose room incorporating a series of sliding doors that enable the space to serve as a private meeting room or double the size of the waiting room when opened. According to Duffy Day, it has allowed the clinic to provide care in new ways—through the addition of group meetings and community activities—and to many more patients.
"When it's open, it's also the first time all of the board members could fit around one table in their board meetings," she adds.
The results of the clinic's transformation wholly affirm the concept of evidence-based design, as supported through research. In a post-occupancy survey of staff, 100 percent agreed that the new space is light-filled and uplifting; 79 percent thought that more community activities and education will occur as a result of the new conference space; and 72 percent agreed that the new space "inspires health."
For designers, the Arlington Free Clinic is proof that evidence-based design can indeed live outside of more formal settings. For the patients and staff using the facility on a daily basis, it is an exceptional space that truly helps heal.
back to top
back to top
ARLINGTON FREE CLINIC
2921 South 11th Street
Arlington, VA 22204
2100 M Street, NW Ste 800
Washington, DC 20037
Tama Duffy Day, FASID, IIDA,
LEED AP, Principal
Jamie Huffcut, project designer
Lori Geftic, design team
Rachel Conrad, design team
Matthew DeGeeter, design team
Richard Adams, technical review
Marian Danowski, technical review
GENERAL CONTRCTORBognet Construction Associates, Inc.
ENGINEERS AND COMMISSIONING
Ken Hayden Photography