7 Design Elements to Prevent HAIs

by on February 20, 2015 - Leave A Comment


Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) cost healthcare providers billions of dollars each year, not to mention the impact on patients and families. The CDC recently published its national report on HAIs stating that on any given day, approximately 1 out of every 25 U.S. patients has contracted at least one new infection during their hospital stay. However, there are ways to leverage design to prevent HAIs.

HAIs cost billions

The healthcare industry has made progress through its HAI Action Plan, but there’s more that can be done.

To fight these disruptive germs, why not start at the very beginning—with the building’s design?

Start with a conversation where company culture and design aesthetic are married with functional and purposeful elements. Conceptualize how each space will be used – not just by patients and providers – but by environmental service staff and visitors.

Asking questions about day-to-day functions are very informative and helpful, such as:

- What do their routines look like?
- What are their preferences? Daily challenges?
- What are any limitations within each user group?

This discussion helps designers create something that reacts to the reality about how each space will function. While not always easy, multi-disciplinary dialogue throughout planning and design allows the team to make the best choices and appropriately analyze the benefits and drawbacks of various design options.

During such a conversation your design team will have a lot of ideas in their arsenal. Here are seven design ideas that you will want to make sure are discussed. All of the elements below help establish a barrier for transmission of HAIs throughout healthcare facilities.

1. Hand Washing Placement 

Celebrate the sink. Position the hand washing station as a focus of the room, so that the patient can see when doctors, nurses, and family wash their hands. Hand washing is the number one way to prevent the spread of HAIs. This is not only important in patient rooms but throughout the hospital.

2. Cubicle Curtains

Being frequently washed and/or replaced, costs can creep up. Anti-microbial fabrics help, but curtains are prone to the transmittal of HAIs. Making rooms less reliant on cubicle curtains is one way to help tackle HAIs. For example: three-sided rooms only need one curtain, yet still have sufficient privacy.

By using sliding doors, curtains can be eliminated
Bing Cancer Center, 2012

3. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Air flow, filtration, velocity, and pressure are all critical. Operating and isolation rooms have drastically different needs than a patient room or waiting area. Based on the space, designers can make sure air flows in a way that helps limit the spread of infection.

Specialized areas have specific ventilation needs
Riverside Methodist Hospital MRgFUS Suite, 2012

4. Humidity

Keep humidity between 20-60% throughout the entire facility. Too much moisture grows bacteria and mold, making the risk for HAI much higher. Conversely, if a space isn’t humid enough there’s a higher risk of static electricity and ultimately, fire.

5. Maintenance

Frosted windows add privacy + high-level design
Doctors Hospital NICU, 2013

Studies have shown that maintenance is vital to inhibit outbreaks. And this doesn’t just include patient areas, but MEP systems and everything behind the scenes. Get environmental services or facilities staff involved in early decision making to make sure caring for your design won’t put you over budget. 

6. Horizontal Surfaces

Eliminating ledges and horizontal spaces where dust and dirt accumulate is a best practice. Evaluate horizontal design elements against functionality and realistic cleaning expectations.

7. Windows

Choose the right window and covering based on light and privacy preferences. Blinds add light while maintaining privacy, but they also collect dust and germs. Techniques such as adding frost to the window will maximize light and maintain privacy without blinds.

While higher design standards and building code requirements in the healthcare industry help, it’s important to recognize that these are minimum requirements. Studies have shown that best-practice technologies, materials, and design strategies, like the above, have decreased the risk of HAI transmission by lowering the amount of infectious agents in the built environment. To mitigate the physical and financial burden of HAIs it’s important to explore best practices that help defend your facility and its patients.

Posted in: Design Trends, Expertise, Healthcare Design, M+A News, Projects Tagged with: , , , ,

Urban Office Renovation Reuses Old Factory

by on January 23, 2015 - Leave A Comment
Turner Offices

Click photo for more images

Since the 1920s, suburbs have historically grown faster than any city. But times, they are a-changing. The Huffington Post reports that in the next 20 years nearly 7 out of 10 people in the world will be living in cities. With more professionals flocking back to the city, demand for urban office renovation or transition is rising. Businesses naturally want to follow the talent.

This increase in urbanization naturally lends itself to social and environmental impacts. And those can be both positive and negative. Adaptive reuse is one of those positives. It refers to the process of reusing an old site or building/materials for a purpose other than originally intended. Basically, recycling a structure into something new. With adaptive reuse, sustainability, and energy efficiency being the focus, responsible urbanization is becoming a trend.

Turner Construction recently embraced this renaissance as it transitioned its Columbus office to a vacant downtown mattress factory built in 1910. In a recent interview with Retrofit Magazine, M+A Architects’ Director of Interior Design, Carrie Boyd, spoke of Turner’s stance. She said,

“Turner prides itself on its craftsmanship. The employees felt their existing space didn’t show that off at all. When looking for a building, one of the really important things was that in a renovation they could really show their craftsmanship and attention to detail.”

And that’s exactly what Turner found.


Click photo to view more images

Throughout the office you can find unique recycled materials. The metal panels in the reception area were reused from a Cincinnati building, one hundred year-old white oak materials were salvaged to create the stairway to the second floor and the reception desk, and original red bricks were re-used to complete masonry work during the renovation.

Energy efficiency was also incorporated into the building’s design. A Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC system was installed, not only to decrease energy consumption, but also to fit the design aesthetic and showcase the authenticity of the structure. It also added to the minimalist design. “Our biggest intent was to let the building show,” Boyd said in her interview. “A lot of what we added was complementary to those original materials.”

Soon after the office was completed, Turner received a LEED Gold certification from the USGBC showcasing its focus on innovation and forward thinking.

As cities grow, urbanites must be conscious of their impact. Choosing to redevelop spaces, reuse materials, and reduce environmental and social stresses is responsible urbanization. And it didn’t just start here. Huffington Post shows more examples of businesses that have hopped on the sustainable bandwagon. As the built environment continues to grow metropolitan areas, adaptive reuse and redevelopment are some of the ways to make its impact positive.

For more information about adaptive reuse or sustainable design email:

Posted in: Design, Design Trends, Expertise, LEED, Local Developments, M+A News, Projects, Sustainability, Workplace Culture Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Do you remember the Chintz Room?

by on November 5, 2014 - Leave A Comment

Do any of you remember going to the Chintz Room as a child?

It was on the 5th floor of the Lazarus Building downtown and was a destination for lunching ladies for decades. My mom remembers taking the bus from Worthington with my Grandma to Lazarus in the 50′s for a day of shopping and lunch at the Chintz Room. She took me when I was little to see Santa at Lazarus and then to lunch at the Chintz Room. It holds special meaning to many people around Columbus and we were lucky enough to be part of re-creating it on the first floor of the renovated Lazarus Building. We had been working with CDDC on developing a restaurant concept that they could sell to an operator to fill the last vacancy along High Street, when they approached Liz Lessner about the project. She said she was only interested if they would agree to recreate the Chintz Room.

The space was designed with a Hollywood Art Deco style and is filled with vintage chandeliers from old Columbus theaters, as well as original Lazarus Building Artifacts, including a window box from the 1930′s, light fixtures at the bar from the original Chintz Room, and original photos and paintings. If you’ve been to any of Liz’s other unique restaurants around town (Dirty Franks, Betty’s, Torpedo Room, Grass Skirt, Surly Girl), you can expect a lot to look.

The good news is, The Chintz Room officially opened this week!  Happy Hour anyone? See you there!

Chintz Room2

Posted in: Commentary, Design, Local Developments, M+A News, Projects Tagged with: , , , ,

New Life for Old Franklinton Building as Symbol of Hope for Struggling Youth

by on October 29, 2014 - Leave A Comment
COYFC Executive Director Scott Arnold Giving Speech at Grand Opening

COYFC Executive Director Scott Arnold giving a speech at the grand opening of the new City Life Center.

On October 16, M+A Architects project team members, John Eymann, Mark DiRutigliano and Kim Frencho attended the grand opening of the Central Ohio Youth for Christ’s new City Life Center and the Franklinton Preparatory Academy. This project has been a 10 year project for the organization and one that M+A has been working on for more than 4 years.

COYFC LogoCentral Ohio Youth for Christ (COYFC) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1981. They work with young people from many different and challenging backgrounds and help them make positive life choices. They do this by providing mentoring relationships and providing resources for “at risk” teens to learn life skills and financial literacy. Many of the adolescences they help have come from broken homes and have been exposed to drugs, alcohol abuse, and physical and emotional abuse at home. Youth for Christ is not a church but they introduce the youths to the Lord and provide Christian support to help them hopefully discover a relationship with God.

In 2003, COYFC purchased the old boarded up elementary school at 40 Chicago Avenue in Franklinton. The building was built in 1897, (designed by architect David Riebel, who designed nearly 40 Columbus public schools between 1891 and 1921) but had closed in 1982 and sat vacant for over 30 years. They raised money through capital campaigns and donations and in 2010 came to M+A to begin designing the renovation of the facility. The project has opened in phases since then with the Franklinton Preparatory Academy taking two of the four stories for their public charter school. Last week was the celebration of the final phase opening, which houses their City Life OutReach program.

The building in 2010 before renovation work began.

The building in 2010 before renovation work began.

Inside the building in 2010 before the renovation began.

Inside the building in 2010 before the renovation began.

The City Life OutReach program is an after school program with a mission to positively impact teens, their families and the urban neighborhood. The facility offers areas for training in pottery, glass, textiles, audio-visual, cosmetology and financial literacy. They also have a fitness center where they teach kids the importance of physical activity and nutrition.

logoOn floors two and three resides the Franklinton Preparatory Academy, a public charter school for middle and high school students. In addition to traditional classrooms, the FPA portion of the building houses a science lab, dance studio, art room and blended learning labs. These learning labs offer traditional teacher facilitated learning, online learning, and small group instruction as well as one-on-one teacher/student tutoring.

The fourth floor of the building – the “YFC Loft” is the real jewel of the project. It was previously unused attic space that we converted into a huge open floor plan with 28 foot vaulted ceilings. It includes a Café, a game room with ping-pong, billiards, air hockey and card and board games. There is also a “Creative Corner” where kids can scrapbook, make jewelry, paint and learn calligraphy. A large tv screen is set up in front of a big multi-purpose space where kids can hang out or group events can be held. A study hall / computer lab and the YFC administrative offices complete the fourth floor. After working on the project for more than two years, Mark DiRutigliano really enjoyed seeing how people interacted in the space during the grand opening event. “I watched people’s faces as they got off the elevator on the fourth floor. I could tell those seeing it for the first time by their look of awe.”

Game Room on the Fourth Floor

Game Room on the Fourth Floor

Fourth floor Cafe/Kitchen

Fourth floor Cafe/Kitchen

YFC Offices and Conference Room Area

YFC Offices and Conference Room Area

Study Hall / Computer Lab

Study Hall / Computer Lab

Fourth Floor Loft Space

Fourth Floor Loft Space

This project is truly is a symbol of hope for the Franklinton Community. Not only was this historic property given new life and purpose, but the COYFC organization is a beacon of light for many teens and families in the community. M+A principal, John Eymann who was involved with the project since 2010 said, “It was an honor and a privilege to work on this project with such a great group of people. And to see the old school become a school again is really the amazing thing, mostly because of how it serves and benefits the youth and the families of the neighborhood.”

Posted in: Local Developments, M+A News, Press Release, Projects Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

M+A Architects Coming to the Queen City!

by on September 25, 2014 - Leave A Comment

Pano Resized

After 18 months of intensive market research and planning…we are thrilled to announce M+A Architects is expanding and opening an office in Cincinnati, Ohio!

What began as an opportunity to better serve our Cincinnati-based owners has now blossomed into a plan for success in the region.  As with most growth, this decision path was not always lineal, but it has now resulted with what we feel is a great solution. Our first opportunities in the city’s market emerged in 2011 when in a three month span, one of our clients had recommended us to a new client in Cincinnati, a marketing campaign focused toward affordable housing had hit its target, and a current Columbus client was expanding their restaurant to the area.  Seemingly overnight, we were fortunate to find ourselves with three jobs.  Furthermore, these clients seemed to really react well to our interests in the market and they introduced us to other influential groups in the area.  Within a years’ time we were working with four major developers/companies that were based in Greater Cincinnati on projects not only in the area, but in four other states as well.

This amount work, coupled with great clients, opened our eyes and we took a deeper look into the marketplace.  The decision, although thoughtful and strategic, was surprisingly simple. Cincinnati boasts a market that continues to flourish and we believed that a firm with our broad portfolio, the ability to understand the fusion between private development and public funding, and the fact that we had over 12 local projects were all indicators encouraging us to expand into the region.

Cincinnati Projects

As we go forward with our office planning, we do this with a few things in mind:

  1. 1)   The realization that Cincinnati is a historic, strong and proud city
  2. 2)   Our M+A culture is what makes us successful 

Why only those things, you ask?  Shouldn’t you be mindful of profit, trends, and architypes?  Well, of course, and we are; but the reality is that we need to remain true to what has made us a thriving firm for 34 years.  Our success will be based upon our ability to understand and immerse ourselves into the culture of Cincinnati, and to remain the M+A that we are today.  We’ve been told by clients we are a company that people want to work with. Our people are involved in their communities and we are enablers of development, vision, and space.  We work within our communities from the inside out to make them better. We need to be, and are, dedicated to Cincinnati much the way we have been for decades in Columbus.

In the upcoming months, we will release more information about our office space, its location, the activities and organizations we plan on supporting, and our Cincinnati specific staff through our blog and social media presence. We are targeting November 2014 as our grand debut.

But as for now, our soon-to-be Queen City friends and family, be on the lookout for M+A Architects Cincinnati!  We aspire to be the designers, community members, and collaborators standing beside you, helping you achieve your goals and making your city…our city… the best it can be!


Top photo courtesy of Cory Klein, corykleinphotography.com
Right renderings of VP3, currently under construction

Posted in: Community, Design, Expertise, Local Developments, M+A News, Press Release, Projects, Uncategorized, Workplace Culture Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,