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Student designs floor plan for dialysis center

By Arie Kirk
On April 28, 2006

Utah State University Interior Design student Holly Murdock has designed a floor plan for a dialysis center in order to create a more spiritually uniting and healing environment for patients receiving dialysis treatments.

"I wanted to meet the specific needs of patients undergoing dialysis," Murdock said. "They spend nine hours a week in the same chair hooked up to a machine.

Sometimes they are there years. I wanted to do something very special for them."

The floor plan includes a dialysis and meditation room designed after an ancient archetype called a mandala.

The mandala is a circle with a repeating pattern inside which symbolizes the connection between man and God. Murdock, a junior, said this will create a more holistic and healing atmosphere for dialysis patients.

The dialysis room is circular with a nurses' center in the middle.

The design of the circular meditation room focuses on physical, emotional and spiritual needs. The meditation area is centered around bamboo plants. Murdock said bamboo represent strength and longevity in Eastern cultures.

"I wanted an area that people could go to that was free from medical treatments. Each person is part of the mandala. They sit in an area strengthening each other spiritually as they sit together," Murdock said.

Dr. Tom Peterson, professor and program director of interior design, said the circular shape of Murdock's rooms is beneficial to the patient psychologically and to the healing process.

"The mandala is an ancient Asian metaphor for health and well being. It became an icon for her design. This approach was her driving force," Peterson said.

In her research, Murdock said she discovered that the use of the mandala is universal.

The circular pattern has been used by Buddhists, Christians, Incans and other religions and cultures, Murdock said. The symbol is also found in nature for example, a spider web.

"Every time period and culture has created a mandala of sorts," Murdock said.

The treatment center is also designed to be environmentally sustainable.

In creating her floor plans, Murdock said she followed the Green Guide for Health Care which is the first step-by-step guide to designing sustainable environments for health care.

Murdock used materials that do not contain or emit harmful chemicals in order to maintain the quality of air and human health.

Peterson said it was important to Murdock to use materials that are not devastating to the environment.

"The underlying theme was to use materials without depleting natural resources. There is only an x amount of anything so we have to be careful," Peterson said.

Peterson also said Murdock's design is impressive and original.

"It is an incredible project. Holly truly went above and beyond typical expectations," Peterson said. "What made this project work was Holly's desire and drive.

Murdock's project can be seen on display on the third floor of the Family Life Building.

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