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Webinar: The Sheltering Arms Institute: Reinventing Rehabilitation with Evidence-Based Design

When: February 16, 2023
Time: 10:00am Pacific
Price: $65 Individual View/$150 Group View

1 unit EDAC continuing education
1 unit AIA continuing education
IDCEC credit also available**

CEU forms available for download during webinar


This webinar is free to our Affiliate+ members.


The Sheltering Arms Institute (SAI) is a new 25-acre campus development on the west side of Richmond, Virginia. HDR planned and designed the Institute to operate according to the VCU Health Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) model and spinal cord model systems of care, and it is one of only four facilities in the USA with this dual designation. 

The design philosophy for the new rehabilitation hospital revolved around the idea of the building as a multi-faceted therapeutic tool promoting a supportive and inspiring community of patients and caregivers, reinventing rehabilitation for “life beyond limits.” The design integrates research with clinical care and incorporates the latest rehabilitative innovations and technologies. Join this webinar to hear HDR’s multi-method evaluation research, including a rare opportunity to interview patients during their stay at the facility, indicates positive impacts on clinical practice and quality of the patient and family therapeutic experience.



Learning Objectives

  • Learn how two organizations and three previous sites came together through the planning and design process as one entity at the new Sheltering Arms Institute campus.
  • Articulate the theory and intention behind a new hospital facility as a therapeutic tool to support rehabilitation and community-building goals.
  • Hear the firsthand accounts of patients’ experiences of healing and safety within a new translational rehabilitation community, and discuss the alignment of design goals for the facility with the lived experiences of patients and staff.
  • Apply lessons learned about the building design and operationalization process based on insights from quantitative measures and qualitative inputs at this leading-edge rehabilitation hospital.



Presenting Faculty

Sandra Tkacz, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, NCARB

Sandy serves as HDR’s U.S. East Region Health Director. She is a recognized expert in the planning and design of health environments with a passion for innovation strategies and collaborative solutions. She has 28 years of experience working with academic, community, women and children’s hospitals and ambulatory facilities.
 Sandy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design and a Masters of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. She is board certified by the American College of Healthcare Architects and was the principal-in-charge for the Sheltering Arms Institute project.


Hamed Aali, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, CDT

A Senior Project Designer at HDR, Hamed Aali has worked on a wide range of projects around the globe. His work is primarily focused on health, wellness and space improvement to provide a more efficient, resilient and healthier built environment for users. His previous experiences with civic, hospitality and commercial projects give him a broad perspective to apply to healthcare projects, in which he emphasizes elevating the overall experience for patients, families and caregivers. Hamed is involved in all steps of the design process, from client engagement and initial design studies through construction documentation, and he helps stakeholders achieve the project vision and goals within the budget and time constraints.


Francesqca Jimenez, MS

Francesqca Jimenez is a Senior Research Strategist at HDR. She investigates the ways in which environments impact human health and well-being. Francesqca has a Master of Science in Applied Research in Human-Environment Relations from Cornell University’s Department of Design and Environmental Analysis with a minor in Organizational Behavior, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, English and Women’s Studies from the University of California-Los Angeles. Her primary research interests are in environmental psychology, linking environments to health and achieving social equity. In her work, she endeavors to understand the ways in which built, natural and social environments affect behavior, cognition, emotion, identity and representation. 


Jeri Brittin, PhD

At HDR, Dr. Jeri Brittin leads a transdisciplinary team of social, behavioral, and health scientists whose work informs optimal planning and design decision-making, and spurs truly innovative design thinking. A public health research scientist by training, Jeri is passionate about designing systems and environments that promote positive human outcomes. Jeri’s work focuses on wellness, behaviors, and organizational dynamics related to buildings, campuses, neighborhoods and cities, and large-scale systems such as transportation. She maintains an active national and international research collaboration network, has published numerous refereed articles, and serves on several national committees focused on design and health. She was a member of the Urban Land Institute’s 2022 international Health Leaders Network.