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The Hospital Design: Importance of Consultants

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The conceptualization, design, construction and commissioning of a healthcare facility project requires the services of various specialized consultants. In the second part of the series on hospital design, healthcare architect Hussain Varawalla explains  the fields of expertise and scope of services of consultants constituting the design team.

There are approximately 28 individuals’ / consulting firms or groups of people who would constitute the Design Team, ranging from architect, structural consultant, bio-medical engineer, public health engineering consultant to client’s representative and hospital administrator.

The Hospital Consultant: The hospital consultant’s market survey and financial feasibility report establishes the role of the proposed healthcare facility. His most important function is to develop a long-range strategic plan. While, the architect would know what it takes to design a building, the hospital consultant would typically advise on the functional content such as, the services and the number of beds to be accommodated, the sizing of the medical examination rooms, the minimum critical heights for the surgical floor etc. The consultant with an understanding of finance, medical practice, architectural and engineering is like a bridge between the owners’ aspirations and the architect’s pencil at the start of the project and at the end of construction, as an advisor in recruiting staff, setting of tariffs, formulating operating procedures and marketing strategies as also offer TQM / ISO 9000 solutions.

The Architect: An architect offers specialized healthcare programming and design services. The design expertise includes master planning, conceptual planning and schematic layouts, construction drawings and documents for the hospital project.

Municipal Architect: Often selected by the Main Architect for coherent working relationship, the Municipal Architect is responsible for obtaining all the requisite permissions / No Objection Certificates (NOC’s) from the concerned regulatory authorities such as, approval of the land use, the proposed built-up area, the open spaces, parking, as also for obtaining clearances for fire-fighting provisions. He could also provide information on locally available materials, local methods of construction and the traditional architecture of the region.

Structural / MEP Consultants: Structural and MEP Consultants contribute to hospital construction in three areas:

  • Site Planning – by readjusting the existing landform through designed grading and providing for proper drainage.
  • Structural Design – at the preliminary stages of design, in consultation with the architect the structural system to be used is decided that can affect the most savings
  • Construction – includes inspection and testing of the materials used in construction, the framework and the structure and provide the structural stability certificate.

Mechanical engineers design the HVAC loads for the hospital, design the system and specify the necessary equipment to produce the desired sterility conditions. Electrical engineers design the electrical systems, calculate the electrical loads, take care of  electrical design requirements and Building Management Systems. Plumbing engineers are responsible for the processed water supply and liquid waste disposal throughout the building including designing the capacity of the water tanks, the fire-fighting systems, the sewage treatment plant and water purification plants for the hospital.

Project Management Consultants: Involving the project manager in the early design phase can lead to cost improvements, time savings and fewer change orders. The project manager manages general conditions on site including start-up, overall supervision and towards the end of construction, drawing up of a certificate of substantial completion.

Landscape Architect: Working in close coordination with the main architect, the landscape architect designs outdoor areas, the layout of pedestrian pathways, paved outdoor areas and plantation. He may also suggest water bodies, fountains, street furniture and lighting and provide detailed construction drawings for all these elements.

Interior Design Consultant / Graphic Designer: In the case of a hospital, it is best that the interior designer is able to work as a direct extension of the architect. They perform the total range of services needed to complete any medical facility including basic design and functional considerations, durability and maintenance of product, and control of costs.

The overall concept of a hospital’s image includes logo and master program for all printed data, allowing incorporation of the graphic design into the total design concept and interior of a hospital This requires the services of a Graphic Designer who also designs the directional graphics – a mass of information transmitted
visually to the patients, visitors and staff so that time and motion are not wasted. The program develops a consistent lettering font and style and a directional program.

Value engineering uses specific methods like function analysis, matrix comparisons and analysis of life-cycle costs to achieve the lowest total cost commensurate with design excellence.

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