Blue Caste Reading Room University of Utah Hospital

Discovery into the Human Body at a Higher Level

The University of Utah Medical Center found itself with a unique opportunity to leap ahead when a multi-level courtyard adjacent to the ER at their primary campus became available for expansion. Long the vision of its Medical Director and Lead Radiologist physicians to create an environment supportive of its progressive culture and advanced technology, the design process that unfolded resulted in a changemaking Radiology Reading Center that enables precise discovery into the human body well into the future.

At the core of evolving reading practice is the need for radiologists to view and discern imaging of two, three and more dimensions in a conducive environment with fellow collaborator specialists in close proximity. In designing the new Reading Center, the team conceived a layout to surround a central concierge and consultation zone with perimeter pods—each serving Neuro, Cardiovascular, Orthopedic, and other specialties. Within each specialty reading pod is a U-shaped configuration of stations designed to accommodate several practitioners—each station customizable to support the flexibility of individual working styles. Each of the specialty pods receives an indirect lighting scheme that matches the hue and intensity of the viewing monitors. This lighting scenario is emerging as best practice for increasing reading accuracy and reducing eye fatigue. The pods were finished with systems providing static-free, noise-reducing properties, and accessed from the central consultation core via a facilitating Concierge. This concierge “gatekeeper” model has been shown to minimize cognitive errors by decreasing interruptions in the attentive focus tasks.

At the heart of the Reading Center is the aforementioned concierge and multi-use consultation zone—an ellipse that symbolizes the center of communication and discovery. Here, providers and patients can make a session request remotely or in person and the concierge will cue one of the standing viewing stations at the central kiosk for a session on the big screen. Additionally, there are full-complement reading stations for physician/radiologist consultation on alternate sides and several smaller reading stations located at the perimeter. This central consultation zone is furnished with comfortable seating, a nourishment station and is similarly fitted in anti-static and acoustical finishes, and illuminated with indirect “blue lighting” from an elliptical cove overhead. Integrated with this advanced reading center is a shared radiology conference and education center equipped with multiple lighting scenarios and separable into smaller consultation rooms.

Once the various designs were assessed by the attending radiologists, the preferred layout was converted into a virtual model (VR). This model was displayed via Oculus head-mounted displays utilizing various VR applications. This enabled users to virtually enter into the digital model and visualize scale and sight lines from room to room and workstation to workstation. Residents and attendings had an opportunity to provide feedback based on the VR simulation. Use of VR simulation in architectural design is a growing method to give users a realistic sense of scale, assessment of sight lines, light contamination, and potential workflow or traffic issues. The VR users adapted to the VR simulation rapidly and immediately began to explore their “virtual” environment and embrace the new physical layout  with confidence.

With the shift away from dreary dark rooms comes a bright future for Radiology and Imaging. This new Reading Center is prepared to welcome new technologies, accommodate an ever-growing patient population, and support physicians, radiologists and other users alike for decades to come.


SEE THIS PROJECT PUBLISHED: Medical Construction and Design: “Envisioning Modern Reading Rooms”.

-Written by Nathan Murray, Design Principal, Vice President