As the healthcare design industry evolves and adapts to the ever-changing times, and in the COVID-19 era, it was more important than ever for organizers of Health Care Design (HCD) to go ahead with their 2020 program despite the pandemic. They went virtual so that students don’t miss the chance to learn, earn continuing education credits, engage with industry colleagues, and ultimately gain new inspiration, insight and information.
Among participants at the annual American Institute of Architects Academy of Architecture for Health (AIA/AAH) STERIS Student Design Charrette, an event for accredited architectural universities with healthcare design divisions, was Erica Grant, a Bahamian student at Texas Tech University, who is in the first year of the Master of Architecture degree program and also pursuing a certificate in health facility design.
Grant, 23, along with three of her peers, represented Texas Tech College of Architecture at the competition to design an adaptable freestanding emergency department (ED) and present the facility within a 48-hour period.
“Our design concept was to use adaptable containers, which can be converted to an emergency department if another pandemic were to occur,” said Grant. “After the pandemic, the facility could be converted to be used as a multi-purposed building to house a farmer’s market, university lecture hall, and health conventions.”
Grant and her team presented “West Texas ‘Pop’ ER.”
“In non-pandemic or emergency situations, the containers could be multi-purpose and used as a space to promote health and wellness. This concept of adaptable containers could be used mainly in the Family Islands or in areas where space is limited. I think this design would work well in The Bahamas because it is easily adaptable and cost efficient.”
The competition is held annually and an overall winner declared. This year, because of COVID-19, the competition was held virtually, and a decision was made not to declare an overall winner.
The exciting annual event is designed to highlight the brilliance and innovation of future healthcare architects.
Grant’s team competed with students from Clemson, Iowa State, and Texas A&M universities who brought their creativity and ideas to the fun and evocative design charrette.
Grant’s goal upon graduation is to specialize in healthcare architecture with a specialization in designing for autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
“I chose architecture, because when I was a little girl, I dreamt of starting an organization that uses sustainable material to shelter the homeless and house those that lost their homes to natural disasters. I knew, to do this, the best path for me was to become a licensed architect,” says Grant who holds a Bachelor’s degree in architecture.
Her course of study is special to her for two reasons – the low percentage of African American architects in the world, and she has a little brother who was diagnosed on the autism spectrum.
“African American architects represent about two percent of all licensed architects, and out of that two percent, African American women represent approximately 0.3 percent. Also, I understand that there are less than 10 licensed female architects in The Bahamas. These statistics show the lack of diversity within the field of architecture. I, therefore, want to be the catalyst that sparks change and leave behind a blueprint for young women in architecture.
“Secondly, healthcare design, with a specialization in autism spectrum disorder, is special to me because my little brother was diagnosed [on the spectrum] when he was three years old. I feel that architecture should be designed to accommodate those with disabilities. Therefore, my passion is to create comfortable and smart environments for people with physical and mental disabilities,” said Grant.