The Architecture of Health

Hospital Design and the Construction of Dignity



ISBN: 9781942303312 Category:

Michael P. Murphy Jr., Jeffrey Mansfield


Architecture of Health is a story about the design and life of hospitals-about how they are born and evolve, about the forces that give them shape, and the shifts that conspire to render them inadequate. Reading architecture through the history of hospitals is a deciphering tool for unlocking the elemental principles of architecture and the intractable laws of human and social conditions that architecture serves in each of our lives.

This book encounters brilliant and visionary designers who were hospital architects but also systems designers, driven by the aim of social change. They faced the contradictions of health care in their time and found innovative ways to solve for specific medical dilemmas. Less-known designers like Filarete, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Albert Schweitzer, Max Fry and Jane Drew, John Dawe Tetlow, Gordon Friesen, Thomas Wheeler, and Eberhard Zeidler are studied here, while the medical spaces of more widely-known architects like Isambard Brunel, Aalvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and Paul Rudolph also help inform this history. All these characters were polymaths and provocateurs, but none quite summarizes this history more succinctly than Florence Nightingale, who in laying out her guidelines for ward design in 1859, shows how the design of a medical facility can influence an entire political and social order.

Architecture of Health, richly illustrated with images and never before published renderings and drawings from the MASS Design Group, charts historical epidemics alongside modern and contemporary architectural transformations in service of medicine, health, and habitation; it explores how infrastructure facilitates healing and architecture’s greater role in constructing our societies.

Additional information

Weight 1102 g
Dimensions 19 x 25.8 cm
Publisher name Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Publication date 10 February 2022
Number of pages 272
Format Hardback
Dimensions 19 x 25.8 cm
Weight 1102 g


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Michael Murphy, Int FRIBA, is the Founding Principal and Executive Director of MASS Design Group, an architecture and design collective that leverages buildings, as well as the design and construction process, to become catalysts for economic growth, social change, and justice. Since MASS's beginnings, their portfolio of work has expanded to over a dozen countries and span the areas of healthcare, education, housing, urban development. MASS's work has been published in over 900 publications and awarded globally. Most recently, MASS has been recognized as the winners of the national Arts and Letters Award for 2017 and the 2017 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award. Michael's 2016 TED talk has reached over a million views, and was awarded the Al Filipov Medal for Peace and Justice in 2017. Ellen Lupton is a writer, curator, educator, and designer. She is Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. Lupton is founding director of the Graphic Design MFA Program at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) in Baltimore, where she has authored numerous books on design processes, including Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-racist, Nonbinary Field Guide for Graphic Designers (May 2021), Health Design Thinking (2020), Design is Storytelling (2017), Graphic Design: The New Basics (2015), Thinking with Type (2014), and Graphic Design Thinking (2011). Daniel A. Barber is associate professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design. He is the author of Modern Architecture and Climate: Design Before Air Conditioning (Princeton University Press, 2020) and A House in the Sun: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War (Oxford University Press, 2016).