Elegant Design

Article excerpt

Some years back, I took a course in architecture, taught by a supremely talented man whose abilities defy description using words like "artist" or "architect." Because for all his dexterity and precision in rendering images using chalk, charcoal, ink and, more recently, all manner of computer-aided design tools, his ability to see and capture the structure and detail of nearly anything was unsurpassed.

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Show him a human form, a leafy plant, a cathedral, or a post office building. Challenge him to render it in different ways--interior, exterior, depth, weighty motion, cutaway--and he could capture it. In my own small way, I learned from him not just how to see what's apparent, but how to perceive, and share, a larger and clearer perspective. And, to appreciate the difficulty of that task.

The challenges of academic assignments pale in comparison with those faced by the creators of this year's Behavioral Healthcare Design Showcase entries (starting on p. 29), since these entries had not only to be perceived, rendered, planned and budgeted, but approved and built in a difficult economy.

Each of these designs, as well as the talented and dedicated organizations that they represent, speaks to our expanding appreciation of the challenges and needs of those served by behavioral health providers. Each confronts and overcomes critical constraints--care requirements, safety concerns, conventions of local architecture, staffing and workforce requirements, even budget limitations--to offer a solution that provides essential benefits to owners, employees, and occupants alike.

Seeing the whole of such designs, especially with the help of observations and descriptions from a skilled and perceptive design jury, is a pleasure that the entire Behavioral Healthcare team is pleased to have and share with you.

Every bit as interesting and elegant as the perceptions that drive great design solutions are those that open and explain the workings of the mind. …