Vlad Torskiy Vlad Torskiy COURRESY PHOTO

Renowned health care architect joins West Michigan design, engineering firm

BY Sunday, October 24, 2021 01:14pm

Plainfield Township-based architecture and engineering firm Progressive AE Inc. recently grew its team with Vlad Torskiy, who has more than 25 years of experience in health care architecture and strategic planning. Torskiy started his new role leading Progressive AE’s health care practice on Oct. 11. He previously worked at Detroit-based SmithGroup as a health strategist based in the global architecture firm’s Chicago office. Torskiy’s portfolio includes the more than 1 million-square-foot Manazel Medical City in Abu Dhabi, a modernization of the 1.5 million-square-foot Ohio State Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, as well as leading the project to improve Spectrum Health’s downtown health care operations in Grand Rapids. Torskiy recently discussed the value of in-person design processes and how the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed health care building design.

What made you decide to join Progressive AE from an international firm?

(Progressive AE) is a growing company — everyone wants to grow, and everyone is behind the standpoint of culture, spirit and approach in an entrepreneurial way. You can say you want to add growth and value, and then you can really do that. I’m very much aligned with the values, vision and mission that Progressive has.

Will you be relocating to West Michigan from Chicago?

I recently bought a house and am relocating to Grand Rapids. With all of the challenges and problems COVID has brought to us, one of the advantages has been that people can work remotely and don’t need to be in the office every day. However, in my position as a national practice leader, it is very important to be with people and spend time with the team, mentor and nurture them. One of the big disadvantages of COVID is it is difficult to do that remotely or through the Zoom screen. That is one of the big reasons I’m moving to Grand Rapids, because that is where the core of the firm’s employees are located.

How will the COVID-19 pandemic change the way health care facilities are designed?

Infection protocols are being taken much more seriously. There will be a change in the flow of patients, visitors and staff from a standpoint of prevention and protection, which will have an impact on health care design and architecture. 

There are just a number of big things changing and moving. We’re facing a wave of delayed care patients because so many people delayed regular or elective treatments. I see more clients gravitating toward using higher flexibility and high resiliency along with creative design that mitigates the cost properly. 

How do you see the increased use of telehealth changing the landscape of health care?

The real and true approach to telehealth was from the (St. Louis, Mo.-based) Mercy (health system). They built a four-story telehealth center that covers nine states. That’s a really revolutionary solution. What Mercy built allows for collaboration with all types of clinicians and nurses. They are pretty much creating a new health care model. More health care centers could definitely create something like this, but if you have one or two locations, it might not be as advantageous to do it on the same scale. 

You helped lead a public health and equity study of the South Chicago metropolitan area. What did you learn from being involved in that work? 

This is a very good example of how approach evolves when you have a creative team working with clients. One of the key items in our profession, I believe, is to define the problem. Sometimes when we receive the RFP and sit down with the client, the original idea the client had in mind is more of a reaction to a current problem or challenge, rather than looking systematically at what the source of the problem is. Often, people are trying to pitch the manifestation of the problem rather than fix the source. This is what we discovered when we started defining what was actually needed and required.

We started working and looking at the entire South Side area, and defining from a health care perspective what this area needs and desires. A combination of factors were health care, environment, food, community and retail, exercise and access to health care and other benefits that all play a role in human longevity.

Do you see an opportunity to conduct a similar study in Grand Rapids?

Something like this would be absolutely amazing to consider and replicate. It will not be the same, it will be different. Health care administrators say that once you’ve worked in one medical center, you’ve worked in one medical center. All of it is different from one place to another, but to do this type of diagnostic analysis is an absolutely amazing tool.

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