For 50 years, students at Clemson University’s College of Architecture have been studying how to design health facilities and the relationships between architectural settings and their impact on human health and well-being.
The graduate program of Architecture + Health was founded in 1968 by George Means Jr., who had a contract with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health to design three facilities in the state, known as the village system.
“South Carolina formed a community mental health act which was the enabling legislation at the state level and George Means and students in this program helped them conceive of a statewide community mental health system,” said David Allison, FAIA, FACHA, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Director of the Graduate Program of Architecture+Health.
“We’re concerned with the study of relationships between the built environment and human health, not just in health care facilities but in the world at large, in the community in all buildings and in spaces,” he said. “How the design and construction of buildings influence the carbon footprint, energy consumption, resource depletion and things like that.”
From individual buildings, the concept expands into the spaces and communities in which they are built.
“Healthy community planning and design in creating environments that are non-toxic, supports healthy lifestyles, active lifestyles,” he said. “How buildings impact human health for people that are exposed for extended periods of time in them. Everything from the way in which the building materials might off-gas or provide a non-healthful environment to access to daylight to views of nature.”
Students have worked on service learning projects statewide for facilities for the Greenville Hospital System, MUSC and various community hospitals. Click here to read more about an operating room design project developed for MUSC.
“We want our students to be thinking about not only the buildings they design but the places in which they’re putting these buildings,” Allison said.
The Clemson Architecture + Health program is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the country and Allison said it has the most established and structured curriculum of its kind. About 225 graduates have matriculated to date. As many as 70 are expected to attend the 50th anniversary celebration on campus this week. Click here for details.
“It’s important to think about human health in the design of all buildings,” he said.