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Robin Guenther, Architect of Healthy Hospitals, Dies at 68

by Editorial
Robin Guenther, Architect of Healthy Hospitals, Dies at 68


Robin Guenther, an architect and environmental well being advocate who designed inexperienced, sustainable well being care services and co-wrote the primary information to constructing them, died on Might 6 at a hospital in Manhattan. She was 68.

The trigger was ovarian most cancers, stated her husband, Perry Gunther. (The couple’s surnames shared a pronunciation however not a spelling.)

Ms. Guenther, a New York Metropolis-based architect who began designing well being care services after graduating from structure faculty within the late Nineteen Seventies, was amongst a bunch of environmentalists and designers who within the Nineties started to marketing campaign towards the usage of poisonous supplies in development.

She was significantly centered on PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, one of many world’s most ubiquitous plastics — utilized in every part from pipes to flooring to medical gadgets — and a identified human carcinogen. Mr. Guenther started to search for options, and to lecture and write about its risks.

When she began her agency, Guenther 5 Architects, in 2001, she took as her mission assertion the Hippocratic oath to first, do no hurt, stated Chris Youssef, an inside designer and sustainable design marketing consultant who labored with Ms. Guenther on the Maimonides Medical Middle in Brooklyn within the early 2000s, which was constructed with a minimal quantity of poisonous materials.

Ms. Guenther’s consciousness of PVC proved step one in her understanding of the complete well being and environmental impacts of well being care services. She and others started to catalog these results, which included carbon emissions (hospitals are power intensive); warrenlike layouts lit by synthetic gentle that affected each well being care employees and sufferers; and supplies, together with PVC, that might harm the well being of the communities the place they had been manufactured in addition to the areas the place they had been deployed.

Ms. Guenther was one in every of many architects advocating sustainable and resilient constructing — for instance, utilizing renewable power sources and designing buildings that might survive the acute climate of local weather change. And she or he practiced what’s now known as regenerative or restorative design, creating areas that promote well being with pure gentle sources and entry to nature, and that hook up with the encompassing group and help it.

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“She modified the character of well being care development,” stated Invoice Walsh, the founding father of the Wholesome Constructing Community, one in every of many environmental organizations that had Ms. Guenther as a board member and an adviser. He added that she had been a pacesetter in designing methods for eradicating vinyl from buildings. “She was not all sizzle and no steak,” he stated.

Considered one of her standout works was the Middle for Discovery in Harris, N.Y., a 27,000-square-foot remedy facility in Westchester County for youngsters and adults with extreme neurological impairments that opened in 2002. The construction, ethereal and barnlike, is produced from renewable, unhazardous supplies, and heated and cooled by a geothermal system.

In 2003, Ms. Guenther, working with a crew that included Gail Vittori, a sustainability skilled who had been designing coverage initiatives and protocols and creating requirements for inexperienced constructing because the Eighties, and Tom Lent, then the coverage director for the Wholesome Constructing Community, created the Inexperienced Information for Healthcare, a set of environmentally acutely aware, health-based constructing requirements personalized for the well being care business.

Modeled after the U.S. Inexperienced Constructing Council’s LEED certification program for ranking sustainability in buildings, the information lined a variety of subjects, together with keep away from poisonous chemical compounds, the significance of pure gentle to help circadian rhythms, and the necessity to present locations of respite and connections to nature.

By the second 12 months of its launch, the information had been downloaded 11,000 occasions in each U.S. state and in additional than 80 international locations. It grew to become the idea for LEED certification particular to the well being care sector.

Nonetheless, skeptics felt that inexperienced constructing within the well being care business can be cost-prohibitive. So Ms. Guenther, Ms. Vittori and others carried out two research that confirmed that these initiatives price practically the identical as standard ones. In 2007, Ms. Guenther and Ms. Vittori printed “Sustainable Healthcare Structure,” which included case research of greater than 50 initiatives. In 2014, Ms. Guenther delivered a TedMed discuss titled “Why hospitals are making us sick,” which has been considered tens of hundreds of occasions.

In an electronic mail, Mr. Lent stated that “Robin understood at a deep stage the duty of the architect, engineer and inside designer (actually everybody concerned in bringing buildings into the world) for the well being, environmental and social influence of the supplies they specified and the designs they created.”

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He added that she had “labored tirelessly to get up the well being care business and the design and development companies that work with them to this duty.”

Robin Gail Guenther was born on Oct. 2, 1954, in Detroit. Her mom, Elinor (Brown) Guenther, was a homemaker, and her father, Robert Guenther, was an govt on the Ford Motor Firm. She earned undergraduate and grasp’s levels in structure on the College of Michigan, and a diploma from the Architectural Affiliation in London.

Along with her husband, to whom she was married for 38 years, Ms. Guenther is survived by her stepdaughters, Jyllian Gunther and Nicole Palms, two granddaughters and her sisters, Lynn Monahan and Sharon Barnes.

In 2007, Guenther 5 Architects, in Decrease Manhattan, the place she additionally lived, was acquired by Perkins & Will, a worldwide architectural agency; Ms. Guenther led its international well being apply.

With Perkins & Will, she oversaw initiatives just like the Memorial Sloan Kettering Monmouth Ambulatory Care Middle (also called MSK Monmouth) in New Jersey, a reimagining of a colorless Eighties workplace constructing into an ethereal house with woodland views; and the Lucile Packard Youngsters’s Hospital Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., which opened in 2017 and gained a Healthcare Design Award from the American Institute of Architects. It options an abundance of pure gentle, water-recovery techniques for panorama irrigation, a shading system to scale back the necessity for air con, recycled constructing supplies and a therapeutic backyard.

In 2012, Ms. Guenther was among the many journal Quick Firm’s “100 Most Inventive Folks in Enterprise.” It famous that she had developed 12 maxims for good practices in design and printed them on posters that she displayed round her work areas.

“For those who don’t know what’s in it, you in all probability don’t need what’s in it,” one learn. One other stated, “Seek the advice of your nostril — if it stinks, don’t use it.”


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