"This room is nicer than my house!" ...Trends in Architectural Design

Hotel or Hospital? - New Architectural Designs

Of late, every industry is focused on the design of user experiences, but extreme examples can be found in hospital and academic architecture.  It's become hard to tell the public spaces in some hospitals from the lobby in a contemporary hotel. And dorm rooms are now nicer than the rooms our kids grew up in.  What's behind this phenomenon, what are the benefits of these elaborate environments and who is paying for them?


Critics are questioning the trend, but there's evidence that well-designed environments promote greater wellness and higher achievement.  Furthermore, they provide a competitive edge.  Patients, students and their families are attracted to the fancy digs, building affinity and improving word-of-mouth endorsement for these organizations.  And the projects are rarely funded from traditional budgets.  Sometimes the amenities are privatized but the spaces themselves are often used as naming opportunities... read "funding opportunities".

Donors are not wiling to fund traditional donor bricks and mortar or more of the same 'ole same 'ole. Donors are motivated by the opportunity to provide something more, something special that would not be possible without their support.  They want to fund a bigger, better vision of future success.  And the money they give goes to more than just cost of cosmetic improvements, in most cases philanthropy helps provide funding for the core mission.

So fancier environments are more than just institutional hubris.  Improving user experience is a method for bringing in more dollars and enhancing the competitive stance.  It is not just a trend, it's a strategy.

The idea for this post came from this article in The New York Times, Is This A Hospital or a Hotel?  Enjoy the quiz.

Other interesting reads:

Should Hospitals Be Like Hotels?

Oh, So That's Why College Is So Expensive!

The Most Expensive College Dorms