With a range of factors driving an uptick in investment in better healthcare services for communities globally, we caught up with Jacobs’ Australia Southern Healthcare Team Lead, Ben Smart, to find out what changes he’s seeing in healthcare design right now and why he see’s his work as a “vocation” rather than a “career.”
Let's talk with Ben:
Tell us what you're working on these days.
We have a few pursuits in progress and have been shortlisted for a couple of exciting major but confidential projects. We are expanding our cutting-edge experience in support of the International Medical Robotics Academy and related Theranostics Suite while continually learning and developing through our architectural and health planning advisory role to Victorian Health Building Authority on the major Footscray and Frankston Hospital developments.
What led you to a specialty in healthcare design?
My grandfather was a doctor, and my father was an architect. There is an integrity in both vocations that overlaps in healthcare design and this merging of the two has given me a specialism that results in real community benefit and great job satisfaction.
How does what you do contribute to improved health outcomes for communities?
Through our work on multiple facilities, we bring a broad spectrum of knowledge to projects of all scales, always applying lessons learned on previous work to the task at hand. Clients and communities, who are often preoccupied with solving day-to-day operational problems, can reap benefits from the objectivity and qualitative lenses that our team can apply to their project.
“We bring a broad spectrum of knowledge to projects of all scales, always applying lessons learned on previous work to the task at hand.”
What is the biggest trend you’re seeing in healthcare design right now and how does this impact what you do?
Telemedicine is a growing field with implications for service provision and spatial design. My family were severely affected by the pandemic, and the ability to see and speak to severely unwell relatives and their doctors despite their isolation was a game-changer for me and my family. So too will the wider community benefit as the technology and associated service provision continue to develop.
Name one critical success factor for any healthcare design project.
For the built solution to imbue a sense of optimism and delight in patients, visitors and staff as a positive counterpoint to the often-severe challenges they collectively face.
What is your favorite part of your job?
There are a few things that spring to mind actually. I enjoy bringing objectivity gained through working across numerous projects to optimally resolve often very complex and seemingly intractable problems for our clients, and I get a lot of pleasure from seeing a project completed well with happy clients and users.
What have been your most interesting/proudest career moments to date?
Jacobs’ small, integrated, one-stop-shop team successfully completing the first family of five common-model Joint Health Command hospitals for Defence and my first built project, the Four Seasons at Sayan, Bali, being awarded the Best Hotel in the World accolade in both 2005 and 2018, an unprecedented double.
When you aren’t working, what would we be most likely to find you doing?
Making stuff, whether it be meals or models, reading, or walking Bert, our ageing black poodle.
What does our tagline “Challenging Today. Reinventing Tomorrow” mean to you?
Always be learning; never be complacent; the solution can always be better.
What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs?
The people and the multitude of cultures and integrated skills that our team bring to their work.
About the interviewee
Ben Smart is an outstanding architect with a career spanning multiple sectors, most recently playing a pivotal role in the design and delivery of major hospitals across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. He teams an inquiring mind and keen sense of fun with an adaptive and inclusive approach to help design healthcare facility upgrades and new developments that both meet clinical needs and inspire a sense of delight in users.
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