The Green Living Guy

Oakland, Calif. (June 1, 2011) – Transparent roofs that produce energy and collect rainwater; interactive walls patients could use to Skype with family or physicians; and a pneumatic pharmacy distribution system that delivers medications to patients’ rooms, were just a few of the ideas presented by architecture and engineering firms competing last week in Kaiser Permanente’s Small Hospital, Big Idea competition.

Kaiser Permanente announced three finalists in its hospital design competition Tuesday. They are: Aditazz, Inc.; Gresham, Smith and Partners; and Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch.

Each firm will receive compensation of up to $750,000 to flesh out their winning concepts over the next several months. Final designs are due later this year.

The three finalists were selected after presenting to a design jury May 25 – 26 in San Diego.

During the judging event, nine firms — selected May 13 from a total of 78 firms — had 35 minutes each to present their concepts for a small, eco-conscious, patient- and family-friendly hospital to the jury.  The Small Hospital, Big Idea competition challenged firms to conceptualize new ways to deliver health care using the best in emerging medical technology and facility design to improve quality and reduce costs.

After hearing from all nine firms, judges were asked to vote for three favorites. Aditazz; Gresham, Smith and Partners; and Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch received the highest number of votes.

“There was a richness and tremendous quality to the submissions,” said Chuck Siconofi, a senior principal, health care at HOK, and one of three architects on the jury panel. “The firms that focused the most clearly on the design challenge and demonstrated a high degree of innovation and the ability to challenge current thinking about health care design and delivery rose to the top,” he said.

The jury also included Clemson University architecture professor David Allison; Jeffrey D. Selberg, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement; and leading Kaiser Permanente physicians, nurses, and architects.

About the finalists:

Palo Alto-based Aditazz teams health care architects and computer chip engineers to apply a systems engineering approach to construction and hospital operations. Their concept, they called “Crossing Boundaries,” proposed multi-functional clinical spaces to minimize travel distances; green walls and terraces to enhance the environment; and an umbrella type roof to absorb sun energy, collect rain water, control light penetration, and protect against sun and dust.

Gresham Smith and Partners called on staff in seven of its offices to develop its proposal for a carbon-neutral hospital with adaptable rooms, patient gardens, and interactive, touch-screen white boards that allow patients and families to download physician notes into their portable electronic devices.

Known mainly as an engineering firm, San Francisco-based Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch partnered with architects to develop its concept for a small regenerative-designed hospital that blurs the line between hospital and community.

“We have a glimpse into the future of how and where health care will be delivered,” said John Kouletsis, executive director of strategy and design at Kaiser Permanente and a judge at the competition. “We’re eager to begin exploring these ideas and determining what we must do to make them real.”

The Small Hospital Big Idea competition launched Feb. 28 drawing 108 proposals from around the globe. After an initial screening by the competition advisory committee to ensure proposals met the competition’s design criteria, a multidisciplinary team of 35 people met May 3-5 in San Diego to review 78 proposals. After a lengthy scoring process, the committee selected 18.

Later, the Small Hospital, Big Idea Competition Advisory Committee followed the same rigorous grading process when they met May 10-11 in Laguna Beach to determine the top nine proposals

“There wasn’t a single proposal that didn’t have a dozen good ideas,” Kouletsis said. “People put their hearts and souls into this work.”

He said the competition elevated the dialogue about health care design and delivery not just for Kaiser Permanente but for the whole health care industry.

The final winner will be eligible to enter into a contract with Kaiser Permanente for the small hospital project. For more information about the Small Hospital, Big Idea competition, visit the website at

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