This semester marks the second year that our graduate research studios have partnered with outside forces to address real world issues that provide case studies for our graduate students. A new graduate research studio, Innovations in Urban Healthcare, being taught by Matthew Littell of Utile is a response to the University’s research mandate on Health. Born from a discussion lead by members of the School’s Advisory Council, the research studio has been an in-depth exploration of typologies related to new modes of health care delivery, such as the MinuteClinic, a development by the retail drug store chain CVS.
The School of Architecture and CVS have partnered to investigate opportunities in urban design, market-driven and scalable building types and the move towards providing access to affordable health care in inner-city neighborhoods. To support these efforts, CVS has made a gift of $25,000 to the School of Architecture.
The partnership with CVS has provided the students with a unique opportunity to better understand the full spectrum of extra-architectural issues that bear on the physical design of a space. In their analysis of new alternatives for Primary Health Care settings, the students have been able to speak directly with all the critical experts developing the Minute Clinic. Physicians, real estate experts, retail specialists, business administrators, facilities managers, architects and designers from CVS have shared many of the challenges in starting, maintaining and providing a physical environment for the clinics. Most importantly, the students have gained direct experience in the value of “deep” research in their design effort, a clearer vision of the evolving role of the architect in a world of ever-increasing specialization and specialists, and learned how to interact with a complex client group.