Ah, spring. For better or worse, I’m grateful to truly have four seasons here in Cleveland, and this one is my favorite. And though it’s still early, this spring—so far—has been especially pleasant, something I appreciated in a new way this week as I recovered from the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (I’m in camp Pfizer). As the chills and aches kept me in bed, I was grateful for the blue-sky view out my window and the 60-degree day that allowed me to crack a window and feel the cool air on my face.
So when I stepped back to work to finalize the production of this issue, it was an easy choice to pair our cover shot with the lines “fresh air”—after all, isn’t that what we’re all craving right now, in one form or another? The project itself is MarinHealth Medical Center Oak Pavilion in Greenbrae, Calif., which integrates a level of biophilic design I’ve rarely seen in healthcare. Its indoor/outdoor solarium spaces alone are inspiring.
I recall a webinar I participated in for the virtual NeoCon event held last June, where I joined some of my editorial colleagues from the Design Group here at Emerald to share trends we were seeing across the sectors we cover, including the initial influence of COVID-19. Although not a specific topic of discussion, biophilia came up during the audience Q+A when someone asked if we’d see it become a bigger trend in healthcare post-pandemic. I hadn’t given it much thought ahead of the webinar, but my immediate reaction was, “Yes, I think so.”
At the time, we’d already been thrust into an environment where we were acutely aware of our surroundings and their effect on our personal health and wellness—from the physical distance of the person next to us to the cleanliness of a space. And we know that access to nature simply makes us feel better. So it made good sense that these two themes might collide going forward.
And while using natural materials, integrating nature-themed art, and even upping the ante on views are all commendable solutions, I keep going back to that idea of fresh air. After all, within the context of how this industry will evolve post-pandemic, we hear so much about how HVAC systems, especially, will be updated to better respond to airborne pathogens in the future—another twist on the concept. But what better time to rethink the long-debated issue of operable windows or to mirror what MarinHealth is doing with robust access to gardens, balconies, and terraces?
Even as more and more of us are vaccinated and we lean into a somewhat normal life, being inside for long periods of time will feel different, particularly in healthcare spaces. And having an open window or courtyard access readily available would be a welcome sight for all.
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