Through our annual Touchstone Awards, The Center for Health Design recognizes the exemplary use of an evidence-based design (EBD) process in an array of built environments. This program focuses on achievements in three areas of the EBD process: collaboration, evaluation, and sharing. The submissions go through a rigorous judging process, with each application reviewed by a team of distinguished jurors including design practitioners, researchers, academics, healthcare administrators, and patient advocates. This year’s Touchstone Awards, presented across Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels, were given at the 2021 Healthcare Design Expo & Conference (Oct. 23-26, Cleveland). Here’s a quick look at our Platinum winners.

Revising Grab Bar Specifications for Senior Living, submitted by IDEAS Institute and Georgia Institute of Technology. The purpose of this multiphased research study was to identify, through quantitative and qualitative evidence, the spatial and configurational dimensions of grab bars that support both independent and one- and two-person assisted toilet transfers of adults living in senior housing and incorporate the results into building regulations and standards.

Methodist Fremont Health, submitted by HDR. The outcomes of initial programming studies and exercises conducted during master planning strongly influenced the client’s decision-making and the project’s direction, which resulted in consolidation of services, reduction in beds, and improved staff efficiency.

Hackensack Meridian Ocean Medical Center 3rd Floor SW Pavilion, submitted by EYP. This project reveals findings from pre- and post-occupancy research studies to evaluate specific design interventions targeted for outcomes in the domains of patient safety and operational efficiencies. The objective was to reduce falls and design an optimal supportive environment for all care activities.

New Parkland Hospital, submitted by NPH Research Coalition. The design vision was to create a safe, welcoming, patient-centered healing environment promoting excellence in clinical care, teaching, and research. In the spirit of Parkland Hospital’s commitment to research, the New Parkland Hospital Research Coalition successfully evaluated actual impacts of the design on patient and staff outcomes, generating knowledge for Parkland and the industry.

Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, M.T. Mustian Center Surgery & Critical Care Tower, submitted by Gresham Smith. Using Lean design and a research-backed, human-centered approach, the team created a space that supports enhanced care, building efficiency, and staff effectiveness. Upgrades to the parking garage, associated hospital entrances, and the main atrium further improved the patient and visitor experience.

HDR Global Headquarters, submitted by HDR. As firm leaders planned a new global headquarters, they put a high priority on promoting employee well-being and physical activity. The firm hypothesized that the design and location of the new building would improve employees’ sedentary and physical activity behaviors at work, and a subsequent study found this to be true.

To learn more about the Touchstone Awards and submission requirements as well as details about all the winners, visit The Center’s website,

Debra Levin is president and CEO of The Center for Health Design. She can be reached at