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Project Legacy

Studio Nova

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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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FROM ARCHITECT Magazine, August 2011, by Jennifer Caterino

At the outset of Project Legacy, a new replacement medical center for the Department of Veterans Affairs now under way in New Orleans, the design team of Studio Nova—a joint venture between NBBJ and local partners Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and Rozas Ward Architects—sought feedback from veterans and their families. Some 630 hours of conversation led to a whole host of insights and design priorities for the comprehensive healthcare facility that includes substance-abuse services, NBBJ principal Susan Bower says.

Some of those priorities, such as designing wide, open stairwells, directly relate to co-occurring disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. “We focused on reducing anxiety and putting patients at ease with simple navigation choices and easy wayfinding,” Bower says.

Patients also played a key role in color selection. Bower explains that the original palette, composed of bright, cheerful colors, was nixed once it was discovered that veterans preferred muted tones. Even that seemingly simple change led to new concerns: Because many veterans have vision problems, designers are looking at ways to improve contrast on reception graphics, she says.

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