College of Architecture, Art and Construction

Center for Health Facility Design and Testing receives prestigious 2023 Touchstone Award


David Allison (left), Anjali Joseph (middle) and Austin Ferguson stand on stage at CHD accepting their Platinum Award.
David Allison (left), Anjali Joseph (center) and Master of Architecture + Health alumnus Austin Ferguson (right) stand on stage at CHD after accepting the Touchstone Award.
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The Center for Health Facility Design and Testing (CHFDT) received a Touchstone Award from the Center for Health Design (CHD), which was presented to Anjali Joseph, director of the Center for Health Design and Testing and David Allison, the director of graduate studies in Architecture + Health, at the 2023 Healthcare Design Conference + Expo in New Orleans on November 6, 2023.

CHFDT earned a Touchstone Award in the Platinum category for their research project, “Realizing Improved Patience Care Through Human-Centered Design in the Operating Room (RIPCHD.OR)” — the RIPCHD.OR project was first awarded a Touchstone Award in the Gold category in 2017.

“The School of Architecture is grateful for the recognition of the Touchstone Award from the Center of Health Design,” explained Jim Stevens, director of Clemson University’s School of Architecture. “The award recognizes the exceptional contributions of the Architecture + Health program and the Center Health Facilities Design and Testing (CHFDT).  Through maintaining rigorous standards for evidence-based design, CHFDT provides findings applicable to the architecture profession, improving healthcare facilities at home and internationally.” 

Platinum level recognition

According to Joseph, the Touchstone Award recognizes healthcare design projects that exemplify the use of evidence-based design (EBD) processes as part of a building project. Winning projects must demonstrate interdisciplinary collaboration, use of evidence during all phases of design and significant dissemination of findings, including application of evidence to other facility design projects. The Touchstone Award has three levels of awards categories: Silver, Gold and Platinum. The Platinum Award indicates the highest level of achievement and application in the EBD process.

“We are thrilled that RIPCHD.OR was awarded a Platinum level award,” Joseph said. “The relationships that we developed as part of this project have led to two additional grant-funded patient safety learning lab (PSLL) projects – one with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Johns Hopkins and the other with Prisma Health. We are truly grateful to the Center for Health Design for recognizing the efforts of the incredible RIPCHD.OR team.”

Developing safer and more ergonomic operating rooms

Joseph explained that the CHFDT team decided to submit RIPCHD.OR for the award as they felt the project exemplified all aspects of the EBD process and demonstrated a deep commitment to conducting rigorous research, applying the findings to facility design projects, evaluating the impacts of the design and widely disseminating the findings.

The RIPCHD.OR project is unique because it was a 4-year PSLL project federally funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and was a collaborative effort between Clemson and MUSC. The project focused on developing safer and more ergonomic operating room prototypes, with the findings being used by MUSC to design operating rooms for two ambulatory surgery centers.

RIPCHD.OR’s many accolades

The RIPCHD.OR team also collaborated with the architecture firm LS3P to implement the MUSC facility design and conduct a post-occupancy evaluation. Concepts from the project were also used at the Emory Musculoskeletal Institute in Atlanta, another winner of a Platinum Touchstone Award this year. The RIPCHD.OR project also resulted in 27 peer-reviewed journal articles, a web-based design and education tool and an exhibition at the ACCelerate Creativity and Innovation Festival at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Further, the project has impacted the healthcare design practice by involving more than 26 students from diverse disciplines who have gone on to integrate the approaches and concepts developed in the project in their teaching and practice.

“The RIPCHD.OR project exemplifies the fundamental goal we had in the Architecture + Health program with the creation of the Center for Health Facilities Design and Testing of seamlessly integrating academic research with professional architectural education while advancing the practice of healthcare architecture,” Allison explained. “It demonstrates that we can serve to elevate academic research in our discipline while translating the findings into useful knowledge that can inform better design decision-making by architects working collaboratively with the constituencies we serve.”

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