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Obstacles and Solutions in Real-World Design

March 1, 2008
by Long-Term Living Editors
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The downs and eventual ups of several participating projects

Rainbow Hospice Ark

Hedrich Blessing

Hedrich Blessing

Architect: Hanna Z. Interiors, Ltd.

Obstacle: Long-term care (LTC) space needs are different from hospice space needs. LTC spaces are not designed with the mandated common elements required for hospice spaces. We inherited LTC patient room spaces that took up a substantial amount of the total square footage of the total project, with resident rooms averaging more that 320 sq. ft. This unbalanced ratio of common versus resident room space created a challenge of limited common space design. However, major renovation and reconfiguration of the existing space could not be designed because of limited funds.

Solution: Without taking down full-height walls or reconfiguring the space, we created individual zones of concierge desk/nurses station, living room, lounge, music area, children's room, and coffee bar/worktable area. These zones were defined through a creative lighting plan; changes in carpet color, pattern, and texture; a warm wood bookcase; coffee bar divider; and the use of artwork and soft draperies. This was cost-effective, functionally effective, and aesthetically effective. Taking advantage of the larger than usual hospice resident room sizes, we created gracious, expansive patient suites, each with a sofa, recliner, desk, dressers, a closet and in-room sinks. The size of these patient care suites provides ample space for multiple family members to stay overnight and for residents to receive massage and music therapy within the privacy of their own rooms. Money was conserved to overcome the limited budget constraints by designing around existing built-in closets, drawers, and writing/work areas, and reusing existing handrails and toilet fixtures. All materials were carefully selected to hold up for the limited life of the rental lease so as not to “overdesign” and waste money from the limited budget.

Obstacle: The challenge of coordinating donor items and their final selection and timely installation to meet the Grand Opening deadline was often daunting.

Solution: To help offset costs, Rainbow Hospice Ark conducted a capital campaign inviting donors to make cash gifts, as well as gifts of goods and services, in order to carry out the approved design concept.

Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury

Architect: THW Design

Obstacle: The client at Shenandoah Valley required an accelerated master planning process and product delivery, calling for the ability to plan and execute measures quickly.

Solution: The designers facilitated an interactive planning process specifically developed to accelerate decision making. Interactive Project Planning, or “iPP,” is a process that has helped many of the design team's clients through the complexities of project planning in a fraction of the time needed for a traditional linear process. Additionally, iPP provides all team members and stakeholders an opportunity to objectively evaluate various options in a transparent and open format. Proprietary software tools allow the design choices to be visible instantly, along with the associated costs. This unique process provides for a more comprehensive and timely evaluation of a project's program and budget development.

Obstacle: Constantly increasing project costs.

Solution: In an effort to better manage these cost escalations, Shenandoah Valley made a decision to include three general contractors (GCs) throughout the preconstruction and pricing phases of the project. During this time, each GC was given the opportunity to competitively price the documents at each stage of completion. This process provided maximum competitive pricing as well as increased cost-saving opportunities. The process provided the owner with enough confidence to accept an early guaranteed maximum price, thus reducing time to develop project financing and with that, the potential escalation risk.