PhilaU and TJU Students Collaborate to Develop Hospital of the Future

Kihong Ku, associate professor of architecture, said both PhilaU and TJU students will benefit from the collaboration.

Kihong Ku, associate professor of architecture, said the collaboration will benefit PhilaU and TJU students.

In a unique collaboration, Philadelphia University architecture students and Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) medical students will work to rethink the hospital of the future.

Throughout the semester, as part of the architecture fifth-year design studio, students will investigate healthcare industry trends, emerging design and healthcare technologies, virtual reality, real-time sensing and actuating, and work with practitioners from architecture firms Ennead in New York and EwingCole in Philadelphia.

The final project will focus on redesigning the building envelope of existing TJU hospital buildings to improve their environmental, energy and health-related performance.

Kihong Ku, associate professor of architecture and Volpe Family Term Chair for Architectural Innovation, is teaching the course for final-semester architecture students and second-year medical students in collaboration with Bon Ku, M.D., associate professor in the department of emergency medicine at TJU and director of JeffDESIGN.

“We see a lot of value in this collaboration,” Kihong Ku said. “From a learning perspective, we challenge both architecture and medical students to think about how space impacts human behavior and communities and various social constructs. Through common activities, we aim to let them learn a common language so they can effectively communicate their ideas. At a more fundamental level, we hope that the medical students also learn about design thinking and how architecture students creatively approach ill-defined problems to reach solutions.”

The course represents a real tangible way the two universities, which are in the process of integrating, can collaborate, Bon Ku said. Architecture students will have access to a hospital to do direct observations and talk with clinicians and staff, while the medical students will learn from architects how redesigning the built environment can improve health outcomes.

“Our aim is to challenge their current understanding of the role of the hospital and inspire them to think of creative ways to redesign hospitals that are more patient-centered and community-oriented,” Bon Ku said.

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