Date:November 2021
Designer:Span Studio
Author:Michael P. Murphy Jr. with Jeffrey Mansfield and MASS Design Group
Publisher:Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Dimensions:7.48 x 9.84 in.

The Architecture of Health: Hospital Design and the Construction of Dignity

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“The study of hospital design isn’t ancillary to larger architectural themes but central to the story of architecture itself. The old modernist argument between form and function is seen within hospital design with unique salience and clarity, in part because the consequences of this debate are so directly felt by people who need health care. . . . Care for others is the ultimate expression of human dignity.”

—Phillip Kennicott on The Architecture of Health, The Washington Post, December 16, 2021 

The Architecture of Health charts historical epidemics alongside modern and contemporary architectural transformations in service of medicine, health and habitation, exploring how infrastructure facilitates healing and architecture’s greater role in constructing our societies.

Reading architecture through the history of hospitals offers a tool for unlocking the elemental principles of architecture and the intractable laws of human and social conditions that architecture serves in each of our lives. This book encounters brilliant and visionary designers who were hospital architects but also systems designers, driven by the aim of social change. They faced the contradictions of health care in their time and found innovative ways to solve for specific medical dilemmas. Designers and professionals such as Filarete, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Albert Schweitzer, Gordon Friesen, E. Todd Wheeler and Eberhard Zeidler are studied here, while the medical spaces of more widely known architects such as Isambard Brunel, Aalvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn and Paul Rudolph also help inform this history. All these characters were polymaths and provocateurs, but none quite summarizes this history more succinctly than Florence Nightingale, who, in laying out her guidelines for ward design in 1859, shows how the design of a medical facility can influence an entire political and social order.

The Architecture of Health complements the Cooper Hewitt exhibition Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemicswhich opens to the public on December 10, 2021.

MASS Design Group is the recipient of the 2017 National Design Award for Architecture.


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