When researching all about the George Washington University Hospital, it is evident that they focus on being as resourceful and as easily accessible as possible. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go visit the George Washington University Hospital in order to get a first-hand view on the site. I walked around the inside of the hospital as well as in the areas surrounding the location. The trip was interesting. Many people do not usually have the time to pay attention to building details, but I believe they should. After looking deeper into the hospital’s built environment, I will be proving that it is apparent the George Washington University Hospital want to be considered a top hospital in the region, and have focused on specific ways to achieve this goal. Being as accessible as possible, and resourceful.
Before this particular visit I had the chance to spend the past two years attending George Washington University, so I was already familiar with some of the area. As I stated before, one does not always have opportunities to analyze a location in more depth than normal, so this most recent visit was a unique experience. The first thing I noticed was the crowds of people coiled around the hospital on their way to their own jobs and lives. When going to school at George Washington U, I never noticed the amount of people on the sidewalks and in taxis as much as I do now. The reason is due to the how my life is styled today. I live in a different area of the city that is more calm and seems to be a place where life can move more slowly. The closest hospital to me now is Sibley Memorial Hospital, and even though it is a great hospital, it is not recognized with such prestige as George Washington University’s hospital is. One of the reasons Sibley Memorial is not as popular is due its own built environment. It is located in a more secluded area of Washington D.C. It is clear that George Washington University wants to be in a location that has a lot of people who they can service. With more people comes more popularity.
When one walks to the main entrance of the hospital they also notice that there is access to a D.C. Metro stop directly next to it. The metro stop is called the “Foggy Bottom – GWU” stop and it resides on what is known as the “orange” line. This metro stop is one of the main reasons why I believe this area is so crowded.
As one can see in the picture provided above, the main entrance can become a crowded area with a lot of foot traffic. Directly adjacent to the main entrance is the metro stop. One can see the metro stop in the picture as it is the area with the small, built in roof, covering people as they walk by. After noticing how important this metro stop is, I then asked myself if the University would put the hospital in this location on purpose? Furthermore, would the city decide to put this metro stop next to the Hospital on purpose? Or was the decision mutual? All questions that are important to this building’s story and history.
In Sarah Schindler’s textual work Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment, she argues that architects will choose how the built environments are made due to specific reasons of exclusion. “some choice architects alter not only conceptual decision making structures but the built environment itself, suggesting that they are in fact quite similar to traditional architec” (Schindler 9). Schindler then goes on to give an example of a cafeteria worker and how they have total control of what consumers eat. In the example it is explained that the cafeteria worker can create an architectural constraint with regards to junk food, and make those options harder to access. Furthermore, the worker will put the healthier options more accessible to consumers in order to try and get people to eat healthier. Schindler’s theory is extremely interesting and made me realize if there is such thing as architectural exclusion, why can’t there be such thing as architectural inclusion.
In the case of the George Washington University Hospital, I believe that the built environment was constructed in ways to allow easy access to the hospital and it’s resources. Putting the hospital in such a busy area, as well as building a metro stop directly next to the main entrance leads me to believe the university, hospital, and the city of Washington all worked together in designing the area surrounding the hospital. They did this in order to create sustaining success for the hospital. As I stated above, with more people coming in and out of those hospital doors comes more popularity and recognition.
As one walks up the side of the hospital they will see the entrance of the emergency room. This entrance is located on one of the busy streets in the city, 900 23rd Street NorthWest. The decision to put the entrance on this street was not by accident. It was thought of by many different people in order to get different perspective on it, and by the end there was a consensus that location was perfect for one of the hospital’s most important departments. Quick emergency room access no doubt seems to be important to the University and what they want the public to know.
From the picture above one can see the side entrance of the hospital which is also the emergency room. One can also see the garage holding the hospital’s emergency vehicles in it directly to the right of the emergency room. When looking at the picture it is obvious that quick access to the emergency room is a priority of the hospital.
On the website “health.usa.com,” one of the first things it says is the amount of people who visited the hospital’s emergency room. “Survey data for the latest year available shows that 73,544 patients visited the hospital’s emergency room” (George Washington University Hospital 1). The landscape of the building is as successful as it gets because they know what people want and need. If George Washington University’s hospital is one of the most populated hospital in the country’s capital, then there is no doubt that hospital will be successful. It is a great formula for success.
Not only is the emergency room entrance located on a busy street, but garage holding all of the emergency vehicles is as well. The garage holding these vehicles is impressive because of the direct access the vehicles have to the busy and crowded streets surrounding the hospital. These vehicles have direct access to streets heading towards all of the most important and crowded parts of the city. They seem to be as prepared as possible for any type of emergency at any point of the day. The streets surrounding the hospital are extremely noisy and chaotic, so in order for these vehicles to get on the move, they must be loud and prepared for a messy situation. Yet another indication some of the hospital’s main goals is easy accessibility and being resourceful.
As impressive as the outside landscape is, the inside is similarly remarkable. When someone walks into the main entrance, there is a large cafeteria to the left. From first hand knowledge, I know their food is pretty average and about what anyone would expect cafeteria food to be. There are many stations in the cafeteria.
When analyzing the details of the hospital and it’s surroundings, it becomes more and more clear what the hospital is trying to sell to the general public. They want to sell an image that they are accessible, resourceful, and are determined to be one of the best hospitals in the region. This area has a lot of great hospitals, and to be recognized in the mix is a high level of prestige put on George Washington University. They want to be a well-known across the country.
Just like the school itself, the George Washington University Hospital wants to be considered one of the best in the country. When one looks at their website, they will immediately notice how the hospital markets their doctors and departments with great prestige. They also market how many visitors they get in a given year to show how reliable they are. In one of the very first sentences someone reading the website will see states:
When it comes to choosing a hospital, one thing is clear: quality counts. And a century-long tradition of providing medical care in a comfortable and convenient environment means peace of mind for the thousands of patients who are cared for by the doctors and nurses at the George Washington University Hospital each year.
(The George Washington University Hospital 1)
From this quote on the main website we see the hospital stating that “thousands” of people get taken care by the hospital a year. Now that number does not seem unordinary at all, and I do not think most hospitals would make a point of saying that information because it seems to be common sense. That being said, since some of the main points George Washington University Hospital wants to make to the public is their popularity and the convenience of their location, it seems fitting they share this information on their website.
When spending time around the hospital, and just being around that campus for a couple years, that area is as diverse of an area as I have ever been around. Usually when a