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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
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Students design additions to children’s hospital

Photo by Nikita Redkar
Architecture students present to HKS partners in Langford Wednesday afternoon. 
Photo by Nikita Redkar Architecture students present to HKS partners in Langford Wednesday afternoon. 

After eight weeks of case studies, design trials and sleepless nights, six student architecture teams presented design ideas for additions to a Dallas children’s hospital.
The new campus will be an addition to the Texas Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. The teams included both landscape and traditional architecture students, adding an interdisciplinary approach to a project that joined students with HKS Dallas, an industry firm. The new campus will consist of an ambulatory care center and a sports medicine center to support the hospital’s downtown location.
George Mann, professor of health facilities design at Texas A&M, helped direct the students’ efforts and said the facility’s design is centered around the experience of the patient.
“We are gearing toward a theme of accessibility and leisure because that is the nature of the hospital’s main patients – children,” Mann said. “The facility will include baseball fields, soccer fields, and swimming pools. As architecture students, we are really trying to integrate with nature.”
Mann said the student designs may or may not be integrated into HKS’ finalized design, but that the impact of working with hospital designers will hopefully encourage students to pursue healthcare design professionally — a career that Mann said needs more members.
While architecture focuses on a building’s form, landscape architecture focuses on the area around it. Mann said that clashing opinions within teams were initially prevalent.
Landscape architecture and urban planning assisting professor Eric Bardenhagen has been chiefly directing landscape architecture students in the completion of this project. He says the collaboration of architecture and landscape architecture students is fundamental in the completion of the campus’ design.
“Teams are always a challenge,” Bardenhagen said, “but in the past few weeks of work, the students have learned to speak one another’s language and view each other’s perspectives. In the end, clients and users of the hospital don’t care what kind of architect built the hospital, they are just looking at the experience they have.”
Master of architecture candidate Gauri Nadkarni said the different areas of expertise within the teams were often part of the challenge.
“Since we were working with landscape architecture students, we had to envision a building with its surrounding landscape in mind,” Nadkarni said. “Generally we focus only on the structure of the building, so it was interesting to incorporate the site as a part of it.”
Despite these challenges, all six teams came together and presented their designs to an array of curious visitors and clients. The teams’ audiences were made up of full-time architecture employees, doctorate architecture students, and families looking for design inspiration.
“Because we’re working for a large hospital, there are a lot of details to cover,” said master of architecture candidate Tian Wang. “During our presentations, we don’t have time to cover every single little detail. We need to cover our core values, visions, and our main timeline of completion.”
The teams showcased their projects in an open house style and visitors were free to move around and talk to different team members. They will present again at the end of this week, and will later take their presentations to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children itself in Dallas.
“The unique thing about this project is that it’s real,” Mann said. “In the end, the final design will incorporate aspects from all projects. The clients, and architecture firm HKS, are mainly responsible for the decision.”
Landscape architecture Maeve Burns was part of one of the six teams that presented on Wednesday.
“It’s amazing how much I have learned from my team while working as a cohesive unit,” Burns said. “By working with real architects and actual clients, we have learned more than we ever could from a hypothetical project.”

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