Healthcare Fine Art: A blog for your Favorites list

Henry Domke’s beautiful and thought-provoking blog, Healthcare Fine Art, discusses current issues about the use of art in healthcare:

  • What is the “state of the art”?
  • Who are the leaders in the field?
  • What are problems to be avoided?
  • Who are some of the artists making art for HealthCare?
  • How is it done in other countries?
  • What is the most cost effective way to get the job done?
  • What is all this talk about “evidence-based-art”?

Domke, an artist with a background in medicine, does not claim to be an authority on the use of art in healthcare, but he seeks out answers from those who are.

Photo of water lilies by Henry Domke. You can view more of his work on his website.

Center for Health Design Position Papers

The Center for Health Design has published two good papers:

Wayfinding: Design for Understanding, written by Barbara J. Huelat, explores ways that wayfinding promotes healing, fiscal health and efficiency. In addition, other benefits of a strong wayfinding system are discussed.

Health and Nature: The Influence of Nature on Design of the Environment of Care, written by Jerry Smith, ASLA, LEED AP, reviews the impact of nature on healthcare environments. Smith also discusses the needs of various user groups within these spaces as they relate to nature.

Both are “Best Practices Papers”:

Based on the work the ESC did in 2005 for the “Environment of Care” chapter, individual members are drafting position papers on a variety of topics, including nature and wayfinding. They are available for download at:

New Journal: Health Environments Research and Design Journal (HERD)

The Health Environments Research and Design Journal (HERD) is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal whose mission is to enhance the knowledge and practice of evidence-based healthcare design by disseminating research findings, discussing issues and trends, and translating research to practice.

The vision of HERD is to improve healthcare outcomes as a result of enhancing healthcare environments for those receiving and giving care.

HERD is the only one of its kind featuring evidence-based articles for health environments design and outcomes related to organizational performance and the human experience. The commitment to an interdisciplinary design process is reflected in HERD’s interdisciplinary Editorial Board with representatives from healthcare (including nursing, medicine and healthcare administration), the design industry (architecture, engineering, interiors, graphics), environmental and behavioral psychology, neurosciences, systems and organizational effectiveness, art and music fields, and other complementary fields. The journal also centralizes knowledge about healthcare innovations and designs and addresses significant challenges in the healthcare industry to improve patient outcomes, to reduce errors and to enhance the work environments for healthcare professionals.

As a translational journal linking research to practice, HERD features both rigorous research from academic sources and applied research from practice. Each will be held to high standards.

For more information, to to order a subscription, go to:

When the Weather Outside is Frightful: Interior Healing Gardens

For those of us not in Florida or Phoenix, this time of year doesn’t allow for as much interaction with nature, especially if we are in a wheelchair or just not so sure of foot. Many healthcare facilities (and many corporate offices, too) offer indoor gardens, atria, or greenhouses for those months when going outside is not an appealing or safe option. Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, MI (above) is one of the healthcare facilities featured in this article:

“The tree which fills the arms grew from the tiniest sprout…the journey of a thousand miles commenced with a single step.” (Lao Tzu)

Education in Healthcare Design

Many people email us asking us about educational opportunities in the field of landscape architecture and healthcare design. Here is the beginning of a list:

Certificate Programs

1. Chicago Botanic Garden Healthcare Garden Design Certificate of Merit Program
Chicago Botanic Garden Glencoe, IL
8 day program, March 26 – April 2, 2008
Potential students may also enroll for the first day only, meant to be a one-day seminar for participants to receive an introduction to Healthcare Garden Design on March 26.

Contact: Amelia Simmons-Hurt Manager, Certificate Programs
Ph: 847.835.8293
Fax: 847.835.6865
email: school

Chicago Public Radio recently did a program on the course: Coming from Public Health/

2. University of Washington Extension Certificate Program in Therapeutic Gardens
Next program begins Fall 2008

Landscape Architecture Programs (for BLA, MLA, or PhD)

1. Texas A & M University Certificate in Health Systems and Design
Texas A & M University, College of Architecture, 3137 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-3137

This is probably the most comprehensive program in the country at this time, with a strong focus on empirical research and evidence-based design.

2. Michigan State University, Department of Landscape Architecture, MLA degree specialty in Therapeutic Site Design
The degree is a Masters in Environmental Design
with a Specialty in Therapeutic Site Design. It is intended to be a second professional degree program, but second professional degree is widely interpreted to include individuals from the medical arts as well as design/planning.

Faculty member Dr. Joanne Westphal is also offering a 2 credit lecture, 1 credit studio course in Therapeutic Site Design this winter. It is intended that students not on the MSU campus will be able to take the course, on-line.

3. Professor Emeritus Clare Cooper Marcus has been teaching a class at the College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley

4. Colorado State University has an undergraduate program in Landscape Architecture, and has recently added a degree program in Horticultural Therapy which will begin this fall. This offers an excellent combination for students who may be interested both in design and HT (see below for more on HT).

5. The University of Washington, with Landscape Architecture Professor Daniel Winterbottom as a tireless advocate, often offers studios, including design/build, with a focus on therapeutic gardens. Several projects, including Cancer Lifeline, Incarnation Children’s Center, Pete Gross House, and the University of Washington Medical Center Healing Garden can be viewed on the UW LA program’s website: Several more projects, including Bedford Hills Prison and Guatemala, will be added soon.

Other avenues:

  • The Landscape and Human Health Laboratory (LHHL) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign “a multidisciplinary research laboratory dedicated to studying the connection between greenery and human health:

Horticultural Therapy:

  • The American Horticultural Therapy Association has links to numerous universities and institutions that offer training in horticultural therapy, many of which may be useful from a design perspective:
  • Temple University is currently offering three courses on Horticultural Therapy in preparation for the AHTA Certificate Program.
  • Rutgers University and the University of Maine also offer undergraduate programs.
  • Kansas State offers undergraduate and graduate programs in HT, and possibly a correspondence course.
  • Colorado State

Healing Gardens = Happy Employees, too

A less frequently publicized benefit of healing gardens in healthcare facilities is a lower staff turnover rate. Healing gardens are being used to draw and to keep good employees.

Exempla Good Samaritan Hospital in Lafayette, CO is advertising for jobs on Cross Country Travel Corps,, and just look at how many of their points emphasize outdoor space at their facility:

Exempla Good Samaritan Hospital is a 477,000-foot facility situated on 77 acres. This 172-bed hospital (with potential to expand to 350 beds as the community grows) features:

  • Spacious private patient rooms
  • State-of-the-art equipment
  • Mountain and garden views
  • Walking trails
  • Incorporation of natural landscaping to capture the essence of Colorado
  • A central healing garden
  • Soothing water features and colorful flowers
  • Room Service
  • Integrative Care (aromatheraphy, acupuncture, massage therapy)

Welcome to the Therapeutic Landscapes Database Blog

Welcome to the Therapeutic Landscapes Database Blog (TLDB).

This blog is a companion to the Therapeutic Landscapes Database website, an online bibliography of information about landscapes that promote and facilitate health. The TLD serves as a virtual bibliography of published references, built landscapes, designers and consultants, links, and related information.

The TLDBlog serves two important functions:

  1. Rapid posting of new information (upcoming conferences, recently published articles and books, etc.);
  2. Acts as a virtual meetingplace for landscape designers, healthcare providers, and other interested people to exchange thoughts, ideas, and knowledge.

Both website and blog are operated through the Therapeutic Landscapes Resource Center, Inc. , a non-profit organization founded by Naomi Sachs, ASLA.