Matthew Carney | 26 October, 2023
Minimize Hospital Design Confusion
Several key elements must come together perfectly to successfully design and execute a hospital construction project. And there are many people involved. The buyer needs to be able to articulate the needs and involve key stakeholders in the construction process. The architect needs to find the right general contractor for the job. That person in turn needs to bring in engineers for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and specialty installations like pneumatic tube systems, all of whom must work seamlessly together to ensure that by the time the hardhats go on, they have ironed out all the wrinkles and everyone is thumbs up in the pre-design phase.
How do they get it right from the beginning? That is where planning is critical for success. The better organized and in sync the team is well before hospital construction begins, the better the outcome will be. That’s what the pre-design phase is all about.
As is the case in many industries, terms attached to processes can vary. So what one person refers to as “X” may be referred to as “Y” by someone else, when describing essentially the same process. It can cause confusion, especially in something as multifaceted as hospital construction, with its complex roadmap of multiple tasks, goals, and timetables.
Such is the case with the pre-design phase, which helps set the guidelines for the design and construction of hospitals.
Some architects and general contractors refer to the pre-design phase as the programming or project definition phase. We will often see pre-design rolled in with schematic design, packaging the entire process as the “schematic design phase”. Others will include the very early stage of investigation and research as part of the pre-design phase. And, in the case of a new hospital construction, the pre-design phase primarily involves site analysis and zoning requirements.
Given the potential for confusion it’s important to clarify what exactly is included in the various phases from initial all the way through to completion. Central to the pre-design phase and often the first step involving key stakeholders is the pre-design meeting.
What are Pre-Design Meetings and When Do They Occur?
Let’s use the example of installing a pneumatic tube system, since that’s our area of expertise:
When do they occur? They typically occur after initial research has been conducted. The pre-design phase is the period preceding the schematic design (SD) phase.
Who should be involved? It should involve the owner, architect, system experts (at TransLogic, we have our own tube system experts), facilities managers, general contractor, and any other stakeholders whose initial input is needed.
What is discussed? Several areas are discussed and the input organized to clarify the scope of the project. This may include:
- Analysis of space requirements
- Conceptual design ideas
- Options for specialized components, such as a pneumatic tube system
- Identification of potential design challenges
(i.e., site constraints, building code compliance)
- Budget and funding