In this series, Healthcare Design asks leading healthcare design professionals, firms, and owners to tell us what’s got their attention and share some ideas on the subject.

Chris Connell is chief design officer at Cleveland Clinic  in Cleveland, Ohio. Here, he discusses repurposing existing buildings, creating collaborative work spaces, and the importance of ongoing community engagement.

1. Using design to foster collaboration

Our new Health Education Campus, a joint venture with Case Western Reserve University, will bring two schools of medicine, a school of dental medicine, and school of nursing together under one roof. The architecture is built around enabling and encouraging collaboration among those disciplines. Additionally, teamwork on the project has enabled us to also exceed schedule expectations, moving up the completion date by six months.

2. Workspaces that reflect clinical expertise

About teamwork, a large healthcare organization requires significant administrative workspace, and the design of that space hasn’t always reflected the advanced thinking of our clinical facilities. We’re now working to create more open, collaborative workspaces for all our caregivers—whether in direct clinical practice or support. It’s important to me that teamwork, collaboration, and good communication are inherent to every aspect of design throughout our organization.

3. Community engagement

As our reach grows, whether at home in northeast Ohio or much further afield, so does our impact on the communities we serve. Of course, our day-to-day community of patients and caregivers is key to our mission, but our facilities, business, and environmental footprint increasingly influence the neighborhoods that we call home. We’re always working to build on existing initiatives like greener landscapes and weekly farmers markets with new sustainability initiatives and resources like the Health Education Campus’s community dental clinic. I’m also interested in engaging more with those around us to better communicate how we support one another now and how we can work together in the future. We need to integrate our own planning and design with that of the cities and communities around us.

4. Reworking and repurposing for sustainability

Many opportunities lie in thinking more creatively about the range of buildings that large organizations can accumulate, which often vary in age and merit. Recycling is a powerful force for good at every scale—including whole buildings—and we often find ourselves exploring the line between what’s fit for purpose and what can be usefully repurposed. Alongside efficient new buildings, we must also reinvent existing ones in creative ways to give them a sustainable future. A great example is our new Cleveland Clinic Children’s outpatient hospital that will soon inhabit a reworked building on our main campus. It’s intriguing to carefully add and subtract from an existing structure to make it better than the original and bring others to perceive and use it differently.

5. Designing for a global organization

Each location in a global healthcare system has its own unique design challenges. One of my main priorities is Cleveland Clinic London, which will feature an outpatient medical facility, opening in 2020, and an inpatient hospital, opening in early 2021. The hospital will occupy an entire city block, overlooking the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Apart from the opportunity of taking Cleveland Clinic’s brand to London, there are some interesting steps along the construction route. Right now, we’re building a steel framework to retain the stone façade of the original building and carving out the inside to build an entirely new 200-bed clinic right in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant cities.