The Hospital Redefined

Anthony J. Pappenfus, The Hospital Redefined: The Effect of Evolving Wireless Networks, Technology + Bioinformatics on the Future of the Contemporary Medical Facility

Faculty Advisors: Profs. Alejandro Zaera Polo, Mario Gandelsonas

“The Hospital Redefined” explores the participation of architecture in technology’s grand project to consume the health-care field and completely shift our current thinking of the 21st century medical facility. My study traces the physical implications and architectural results of the changing social and biomedical landscapes due to advances in wireless technology and medical practice. It is this dynamic and increasingly quickening pace of new innovations in the health care field, I argue, that will dematerialize and decentralize the hospital and give birth to a new building type within the next 30 to 40 years.

While historic social practices were the dictating models of how buildings looked and acted (such as pre-war Victorian hospitals that catered only to the small percentage of financially fortunate or the late 18th-century asylums that were filled with mostly poor), technological innovations will dictate how the hospital functions in a society where mostly everyone is entitled to health care-economic status aside. While my thesis will briefly discuss the implications of changing health care and insurance policies in Europe and the United States—as a framework through which I can compare and contrast—I will focus primarily on the capabilities available that will, in the short term, redefine efficiency and in-patient/out-patient models, and in the long term, reshape the medical facility.

By assessing medical facilities through both typological and iconographic means, I hope to present a clear history of: a) how the internal functioning and organization of the hospital transformed over time and b) how different political and economic factors influenced the way in which the hospital as an icon was considered. I then attempt to show how the advancement of technology and the spread of wireless network capabilities is the underlying factor that has transformed the medical facility and will continue to do so in the future. After outlining several conversations with doctors, nurses, and experts in health design from firms ranking among the top 10 in healthcare infrastructure, I close by arguing that the hospital will eventually cease to exist as the institution we know it as today."