Skyline Art Services
Firm's role on the project: Planning, Programming, Architecture, Design, Interiors
To combine two sometimes-competing objectives: to offer positive distraction for patients with proven EBD principles, while honoring the mandates of the U.S. Military’s visual culture. Cultural specificity in this case meant incorporating subjects, styles, and media not commonly associated with evidence-based design.
The Military Health System officially adopted evidence-based design principles nearly a decade ago. Stakeholders at Martin Army Community Hospital also expected to see an environment with visual clues specific to military service and sacrifice, honoring patients and their families with patriotic reminders of their attachment to the nation, the army, and even their regiment. The art program embraced both directives.
The symbols and motifs that signify honor, patriotism, and pride include eagles, historical photography, military insignia, and even representations of maneuvers in field training. The hospital’s design team defined the evidence-based design art elements to include references to nature, a variation in media and scale, and opportunities for positive distraction. These ideas were initially questioned by end-users. Material preliminary concepts were presented in person to be better understood and to gain acceptance.
It was decided to place the most literal and patriotic subjects in the public and entry spaces, reserving calming and nature-based imagery for interior spaces, where patients would come into contact with their healthcare providers. The design solution hypothesizes that incorporating elements that reflect a specific visual culture — even if not commonly understood as healing art — may support healing and promote a sense of wellbeing for those who belong to that culture.
Accordingly, the most acclaimed component of Fort Benning — its jump towers for training paratroopers — were presented as the predominating subject within the main atrium, complete with parachute treatments for the overhead lighting. Other areas featured historical memorabilia, photography of active service, and references to specific divisions and units housed at Fort Benning. Using data offered by end-users, refinements to art selection, location, and graphic design were made. Elsewhere, artful references to local flora and fauna are presented through a variety of media.
Patient-centered design requires specific solutions to specific settings, particularly when patients belong to a highly distinct culture, with its own visual vocabulary. EBD precepts, as commonly understood can make room for other subjects and meanings. Further research is needed to test the hypothesis that a healing art program may incorporate elements not yet associated with EBD art. In addition to references to nature, variation in media and scale and opportunities for positive distraction, a visual art program may offer encouragement through proud affiliation, honor, and recognition of service.