Designing with a Sense of Purpose

Students and instructors in the University of Michigan Medical Science II Clinical Simulation Center may forget they are in a simulated hospital—and that’s the goal.

The simulation center provides immersive training for physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. It also supports the development of teaching techniques. Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) staff and partners applied creative approaches to make the facility as much like a hospital as possible.

“Making sure every team member knew the purpose of the space, what this space was going to be for and how it would impact the future of medical education was important,” said Jacquline Jeffery, Design Manager.

The team toured rooms at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and University Hospital to replicate many aspects, such as the layout of patient rooms, signage, and paint colors. Although the simulation center is in a basement, lighted “windows” on the wall display photos of views you’d see from the hospital to make the experience even more immersive. Jacquline said, “They are very accurate imitation views produced by the Sign Shop!”

Jacquline and fellow architect Tamara Bannan noted that the design team’s care and consideration included proactive research about whether any upcoming projects might impact this one. When they discovered that the air handling units would soon require replacing, which would be very disruptive to the simulation center, it was included in this project for better coordination and less impact.

After this fulfilling project came to fruition, the team was honored to see their work showcased in a video from the Department of Learning Health Sciences.

“Seeing our drawings in the video was quite touching to me,” Jacquline said. “I’ve seen lots of client videos and they rarely mention the architects or design team. It demonstrates how well we listened to them and that they were part of the team.”