Final Project: Success is Perception

While researching the George Washington University Hospital and University itself, it’s evident that, although they both strive to become more prevalent and successful, they go about their work it two distinctive ways. The George Washington University Hospital wants to become one of the most successful in the region and to do so they believe they need to show the public how trusted, advanced, and resourceful they are. In regards to the University, they have been trying to become a Top 50 school in the country for years now. They believe that in order to do so, they need to prove to the community that they are prestigious and that message is communicated to the community through a variety of ways. The University’s hospital is seen as an inviting and welcoming place; however, the University gives a message to the general public that they are exclusive and only allow in the top tier students. Both the hospital and the university share a common place, and by analyzing the built environment and researching the messages that these organizations try to display, we see that success is mere perception.

I spent two years of my educational career at George Washington University and have had a lot of first hand experience with both the University and the hospital staff.

Every building rests in the area of Washington D.C. known as Foggy Bottom. This area is busy almost the entire day and night. Since this area is near a lot of government and office buildings, the foot traffic around the hospital can get extremely hectic due to the people traveling to and from work. In addition to all of the foot traffic, the metro station directly adjacent to the University’s hospital adds only more people to, what some believe, is troubling situation. Below we see a picture of the hospital’s main entrance and the entrance of the metro station.

As a former student I can say that going to school in a city environment can be an advantage in some situations, but the overwhelming foot traffic caused a lot of annoying problems. That being said, for the George Washington University Hospital, this is not seen as a problem at all. One of the messages the hospital wants to send to the public is that they are easily accessible and accommodating to anyone. This begs the question if the hospital wanted the metro stop next to them on purpose. I talked about this topic in some of my previous work where I dove more in depth about the built environment of the hospital.

In my past work I have sited Sarah Schindler’s article 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). This quote helps answer the question above – no decision is made without knowledge of the ramifications. The hospital wants the station in that location in order to invite people inside. They want to treat as many people as possible so they can be seen as one of the most trusted and in-demand hospitals in the metropolitan area.

The message the the hospital is sending to the community is simple – they want to be trusted. The more people that experience the George Washington University Hospital, the more trust is attributed to the institution. They also want to show that they are cutting-edge and have top of the line resources. This video produced by the University’s administration shows a visual outlook of what the University’s executives believe the message should be.

The visuals in the video are important in what they are trying to sell. Right away they show the history of the hospital by introducing former President Ronald Reagan. They want to remind the public that they were the ones who had to perform emergency surgery on him after an assassination attempt. After that, they tell us about how their doctors use the best and most cutting edge equipment available. All of these aspects are used to gain trust from the community so that they decide to visit the hospital if anything unfortunate happens. Treating more people equals more recognition, and eventually, more success. We see that creating success is done by creating a certain perception to the greater community.

When focusing on George Washington University, they seek similar success and prowess but in a completely different way. The University has a low acceptance rate, and in fact has raised their tuition over the recent years in order to gain prestige in the eyes of the public.

In Kevin Carey’s New York Times article published in 2015, titled How to Raise a University’s Profile: Pricing and Packaging, he speaks to the fact that the University’s plan was to raise tuition to give off the perception it was worth it. Students would be getting a degree unlike many others, which actually turned out to be false. An administrator at the school was quoted saying that the University “convinced people that George Washington was worth a lot more money by charging a lot more money” (New York Times). He then went on to even further explain his comment by saying “College is like vodka, he liked to explain. Vodka is by definition a flavorless beverage. It all tastes the same. But people will spend $30 for a bottle of Absolut because of the brand. A Timex watch costs $20, a Rolex $10,000. They both tell the same time” (New York Times). These quotes illustrate that an education at the University is not actually worth the money that they are charging and that they only charge this much to create a perception they are a prestigious university where students will earn  a prestigious degree. They are trying to generate success for themselves by creating perception, not actual substance.

Not only does the university raise tuition to create a message to the community, they also do it through commercials.

These commercials, like the one above, state the types of students the George Washington University administrators are looking for, and the goals these students should set out for themselves. These commercials are used to attract potential students and also try to attract a certain type of student with high aspirations for themselves. The commercial shows monumental areas of the city, nice areas of campus, and various athletes competing in certain events. Potential students get a variety of images on what the university is trying to sell. In the commercial above, they state they have students who are set out to change the world. Now that may be true, but we can see that these statements and visuals are being used to make the university as prominent as possible.

After researching both George Washington University Hospital, as well as the University itself, it is evident they are both striving to climb the ranks of their respective fields but going about it in two different ways. The hospital has goals of becoming trusted, advanced, and resourceful. We see this from their built environment as well as the messages they send out to the greater community. They know they can acclaim success by becoming an inclusive hospital that people depend on for any unfortunate occurrence that happens to them. The University’s plan is to create more of a secluded environment where they only accept certain people into the school. They create a false perception that they their education is worth thousands of more dollars than it really is. Although the University and hospital follow different paths to success, they both lean on the perception of the public to decide how much success both of them eventually gain. We can see that success is merely just a perception.

 

Works Cited

Carey, Kevin. “How to Raise a University’s Profile: Pricing and

Packaging.” The New York Times, The New York Times,

6 Feb. 2015,

www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/education/edlife/how-to-raise-a-

universitys-profile-pricing-and-packaging.html?_r=0. Accessed 4

May 2017.

Cimino, Matt C. “Category: Essays.” Powered by EdSpace, 9 Mar. 2017,

.edspace.american.edu/mc4976a/category/essays/. Accessed 4

May 2017..

 

GWtweets. “The George Washington University.” Vimeo, 4 May 2017,

vimeo.com/141595642. Accessed 4 May 2017.

 

GWUHospital. “George Washington University Hospital – Quality

Hospital Care.” YouTube, YouTube, 16 July 2013,

www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpn8Stb3MMQ.

Accessed 4 May 2017.

 

Schindler, Sarah. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and

Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.”

The Yale Law Journal – Home, The Yale Journal , Apr. 2015,

www.yalelawjournal.org/article/architectural-exclusion.

Accessed 4 May 2017

Essay 1 – The Built Environment of the George Washington University Hospital

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