Alda Ly redesigns the healthcare experience for women (2023)

After its inception in 2017,Alda Ly Architecture (ALA)First made his name designing velvet covered clubby spots for a now closed coworking spaceEl ala, which was known to have been marketed to people posing as women in New York, D.C. and California. Before those spaces closed, Ly's design for the project attracted a lot of attention for the way it bridged the office and hospitality sectors and focused on user comfort and individual needs: The Wing, for example, was known for its luxurious private grooming salons that mothers could use Pumping breast milk and holding conference calls at the same time. With design details like these, it didn't take long for healthcare companies to take notice; They also tried to appeal to younger consumers, who are increasingly making decisions based on aesthetics and experiences, as well as essential services. Parsley Health, which markets itself as a holistic and preventative medical practice, was the first to come forward.

We look at healthcare from a non-medical perspective.

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Arq. Alda Ly

Alda Ly brings a hospitality fund to healthcare

“Because our background is in the working world and hospitality, we put our hat on to look at it from a non-medical perspective. What do patients want? said the company's namesakeAlda Lysharing the screen during a video call with Marissa Feddema and Tania Chau, the company's architectural and interior design project leaders, respectively.

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"Parsley Health was successful, and that meant all these other [healthcare companies] were like, 'We want to work with people who have never designed a healthcare space before,'" Feddema says, adding. "So now we've designed about ten different health domains."

In a way, the work represents a trend among health and wellness companies to develop an aesthetic similar to that used to lure young consumers into stores in previously outdated markets like mattresses or eyewear.

ALA's design for Parsley Health's 5,500-square-foot New York City flagship incorporates biophilic design concepts, which Feddema says are a buzzword. But for this and future projects, the team focused on very concrete design movements based on itFourteen Biophilic PrinciplesFor example, it has been shown to lower blood pressure and help residents feel safe. These have simple navigation built into them, so "something you'll see in all of our healthcare layouts is very clear guidance," says Feddema. For the integrative healthcare providerHealthQuarters location in New York, ALA used curved metal screens to guide patients through a central corridor and bold colors in the exam room for easier identification by staff and patients.

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They took a similar approach when designing the first 6,000-square-foot site for Liv by Advantia Health, a women's health practice in downtown Washington, D.C. "The project was full of color," says Chau. "It was cool to go in the opposite direction of the mostly neutral blue-green environments that you often see in healthcare." Using a color vocabulary to help orient themselves, the team distinguished two central hallways of mauve and teal hues that complement each other increase in saturation so staff can guide patients, for example, to the darker blue-green room on the left.

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ALA seeks to create a sense of empowerment for women seeking treatment

A key theme in many of ALA's recent health and wellness projects is cultivating a sense of community and empowering women seeking treatment. In the Advantia project, large folding doors open onto the street. Once inside, women can choose between two waiting areas, depending on whether they prefer to be close to others or prefer to sit alone with more privacy. "There will be many milestones in women's lives where they can feel ups and downs," says Chau. “You can come to an investigation with your son, but you can also bring bad news. Maybe you don't want to sit near family."

The company also aims to change the typically stark patient experience through exam room design. Advantia's rooms have a small desk with a mirror hanging above it and warm lighting. Elsewhere, at new locations for Tia Clinic (another integrative healthcare company offering women primary care, acupuncture, therapy and other services in one place), ALA overhauled the patient experience as there is no longer a place to keep your personal belongings during of investigations can keep . "You try to tuck your socks in your pockets and hide your underwear," says Feddema. Tia's exam rooms in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix and the newest location in Brooklyn, New York feature a variation of a patient closet with a place to charge your phone, clothes and bags, and even a place for a child or couple too sit. Again, the mirrors offer patients a moment of self-care before heading out into the world again. "We want mirrors in some rooms to be a great selfie moment or a cool-down moment rather than a stark look at yourself," says Feddema. "With all of our projects, we also think about the lighting and how different skin tones look in those areas."

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Of course, as the pandemic has made clear, healthcare cannot be successful without also paying attention to the experience of providers. At Advantia, just as much space is devoted to staff areas as to patient areas. The pantry and staff lounge get plenty of natural light from the storefront window, and a private patio provides more relaxing space for staff breaks. At Tia locations, staff lounges also offer an excellent balance of space and amenities, with natural light and comfortable furnishings to ensure patients are the only ones able to relax in the office.

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Different design requirements for different demographics

This new generation of highly designed health and wellness spaces is not immune to criticism. Some argue that an emphasis on design and branding diverts attention from the crisis in equitable access to health care in the United States and commodifies a private product that needs to be democratized. But Ly, who co-founded early in his careerMASS (Model of Architecture at the Service of Society) design group, continues to view community building, whether in healthcare, the workplace or retail, as an essential design work.

The seemingly limitless need for other stagnant and overlooked spaces has encouraged the ALA practice to offer more flexible design options to new clients, including a veterinary practice and a collection of infusion clinics in upper New England. “It allows us to work with startup clients in a really efficient way and give them an overall picture of how the space should feel,” says Ly. The client can then work with their own team to complete the project based on their research into local staff and patient needs.

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And the design is not just aimed at a young clientele that appeals to bright colors and contemporary marketing. In a new partnership with MASS, ALA is working on an unannounced senior living project in Boston to design community spaces and services for residents. -Elderly people at risk. The work offers the company the opportunity to enter a new research area around the challenges of aging: "When designing a bathroom, you don't want the toilet and the bathroom floor to be the same color because you start to lose sight, can." You don't distinguish where things are if there isn't that contrast," says Feddema. "The same goes for a chair and a rug."

"The more seniors feel part of a community, the more active and empowered they feel in their healthcare," says Feddema. While no one can forget that the US healthcare system has serious flaws, it is a reminder that even incremental improvements in patient experiences, whether driven by community groups or the private sector, can benefit everyone.

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