“Reflections” is a new column featuring thoughts and commentary by former HEALTHCARE DESIGN Editor-in-Chief Richard L. Peck.

Ah, the comment every parent wants to see on a preschooler’s report card. And now, wouldn’t you know, it’s a comment healthcare designers are hoping to see on their performance evaluations. It doesn’t just mean being a swell guy around the office. These days it means collaborating with people at every level of the project delivery process.

This analogy jumped to mind as I was putting together on article on advances in MEP design in the healthcare field for our sister publication, Healthcare Building Ideas. One thing I heard over and over from the architects and engineers I spoke with was how now it’s becoming increasingly common for all participants in the design process-from architects and consultants, through contractors and subs, to clients at all organizational levels-to collaborate from the beginning of the project. The game-changing technology of building information management (BIM) is spurring this on, and an offshoot of this is IPD, or integrated project delivery. (For those into acronyms, BIM and IPD have brought new meaning to AEC.)

Interestingly, a leading lighting designer I interviewed recently for an article on healthcare lighting-Francesca Bettridge, of Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design in New York-said that while she wasn’t familiar with the acronym IPD, her firm had been practicing it for years. Noting she was about to leave for a project kick-off meeting with architects, consultants, client representatives, dining service managers, security personnel, and more, Bettridge said she couldn’t imagine doing her job any other way.

Observing all this, I must admit that the specter of Howard Roark comes upon me-Roark being, of course, the famed uber-architect featured in Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead. I’ve referred in previous editorials to how much I enjoyed Roark, whose designs were arch-typical, and allowed no time for nay-sayers or weak-kneed social reformers. Succinctly, if you didn’t like what he was doing, it was your problem. How many times have I-have all of us-wished that we could occupy such a position of unassailable righteousness and vision, no questions asked?

But alas, we must live in the real world. Howard Roark these days would have to insist even more adamantly on maintaining his isolation, if only to gain time to learn and master new facets of design and construction emerging yearly. Short of such superhuman achievement we have to work with others who know more than we do about some things, and they have to work with us in our own realms of expertise. This has the potential of producing the ultimate in creativity and cost-efficiency.

It is “teamwork” with a capital T. And whether we like it or not, it is here to stay. HD

Healthcare Design 2010 February;10(2):56