This is a continuing series from Huddy HealthCare Solution’s ED Design Team that covers “issues to consider” in support of making your next ED design project a success.  

Full Scale Mock-Ups

If you have the chance to experience your design decisions in three-dimensions before you authorize the design to be constructed you should jump at that chance.  While 3-D drawings are fine and colored renderings always look great as images up on a slide screen, nothing beats the possibility of actually walking through your design in person before you finalize the design.

And while “computerized videos” of your design allow it to look like you are moving through the design, nothing beats actually experiencing the space in reality.  If you have had the chance to build full-scale room mock-ups in a previous project then you understand the power of completing this effort.  The ability to build full height walls out of cardboard or moveable partitions gives you a completely different perspective to how your design will impact future operations.

Find Out if Full Scale Mock Ups Are Part of Your Process

If you are just starting a design project ask your facilities director (or whoever is leading the overall ED design process in your organization) if you will have the opportunity to build full-scale mock-ups of key rooms within your design.  If yes, target building a triage/care-initiation space, a typical exam room, a resuscitation room and a typical nurse station/central work area.  Take the time to get actual equipment in the mock-up rooms and go through role playing with actual patients (I mean staff acting as patients) on stretchers, in wheelchairs etc. moving through these spaces.

Many lean events are now incorporating full scale mock-ups as part of their process and the results are fantastic.  I would recommend doing the mock-ups as early as you can in the design process so that any changes to room configurations can be incorporated into the final design.


It takes tremendous time and effort to complete these room mock-ups so plan ahead to make it part of your design process.  Make sure you understand the time commitment expected of you and your staff so that you can gain the maximum benefit from participating.  Schedule the mock-up sessions with your facilities director and your architect and make the commitment to be there as part of the actual mock-up “construction” team putting the spaces together.  The insights you gain while actually building the spaces out of cardboard is immeasurable!   You will not only enjoy the “construction” part of the process but you will really enjoy the “role playing” as you start to understand how the physical environment can be shaped to support a better way of working in the future.  Good luck to you and get your carpet knives out and start cutting that cardboard! And if someone cuts themself, hopefully there will be a nurse or doctor in the area!

If you would like more insights on Emergency Department planning and design please contact Jon Huddy at