The Riverbat Clinic

Clinic Design for MA in Design Capstone Project with Austin Community College (ACC)

Nina Lemieux, Ngan Hoang, Rie Takeuchi, Krezia Savella, Alisa Elliot

My roles: Faculty Interviews and Intercepts, Workshop Leader, Navigation Prototyping, Service Designer

The Problem

In the Spring of 2022, Austin Community College (ACC) was selected as a capstone project partner within the MA in Design program. After six long years of advocacy from the health sciences faculty, ACC was ready to design a state-of-the-art primary care clinic on its Eastview campus.

For ACC’s students, this clinic offers the potential for co-location of primary care, mental health, dentistry, and telehealth. For learners in one of ACC's 14 health science programs, the clinic will serve as a new location to develop and practice clinical skills alongside faculty.

How might we design a primary care clinic that serves both the ACC community's health care needs and the future clinical education needs of ACC's health sciences programs?

The Groundwork

Because the clinic had already been greenlit in ACC's Masterplan, we knew a lot of groundwork must have been laid prior to our design team being brought on board. We conducted a series of informal interviews with the health sciences dean and past dean to get up to speed and toured Building 3000, a former culinary arts building that had been identified as the future clinic site.

Research Phase

Our team divided into two interview groups; Alisa and I interviewed with faculty and staff while Krezia and Rie interviewed students. Our faculty and staff interviews focused on department chairs from the health sciences programs and student services administrators in the equity, diversity, and disability services offices. In these interviews, we focused on the technical requirements for clinical placement sites in each program. All interviews were conducted via Zoom.

During this phase, we also conducted student intercepts at both the Highland and Eastview ACC campuses.

At the close of the research phase, I planned and facilitated a hybrid workshop at the monthly health sciences department chairs meeting. For those in person, I started by asking them to form small groups and create an ideal (and financially reckless) clinic floor plan drawn on a piece of printer paper. From there, we asked them to cut out their labeled rooms and use them to iterate on the exercise using only first a half a sheet and of paper and then a quarter sheet. What features were chosen when space was at a premium?

I adapted this activity for Zoom and Rie and Ngan facilitated this for those joining virtually.

During our research phase we learned from:


Student Interviews


Faculty & Staff Interviews


On-campus Intercepts


Workshop Participants

Selected Insights

In synthesizing our research, we grouped feedback we had received from students and faculty in interviews and during intercepts. We did this both virtually utilizing Miro and in-person. While four key research insights that were presented to our clients at ACC, this case study focuses on the two insights we chose to prototype:

Navigating to the clinic space needs to be intuitive and transparent. The patient experience extends beyond the walls of the clinic and starts before they get to the parking lot.

Students and faculty want a modern, inclusive, and accessible space that is flexible to grow to meet the unique needs of ACC's diverse community

Navigation Testing


First, I had four individuals who had never been to ACC's Eastview campus navigate with a member of the design team to Building 3000. Each person used a GPS app to document the turns they took throughout the parking lot. Design team members were instructed to document the journey but provide no navigation guidance. These are some highlights compiled by Rie.

After reviewing the footage of our first participants, Rie and I made changes to the activity we believed could help people navigate more easily. First, I added GPS coordinates for Parking Lot A and the 3000 Building into our instruction email. These were not available on Google Maps at the time. Rie redesigned the campus map to more clearly delineate between the roads, parking lots, and sidewalks. The map also explicitly labeled the clinic parking and clinic building. Finally, we worked together to create low fidelity mockups of signage to place around the Eastview Campus.

Our phase two navigators traveled by car, bus, and bicycle to find the clinic! Rie and I observed their navigation from the second floor balcony and our prototype testers called me when they found what they thought was the entrance. Then, we would have the person retrace their journey for us, including what cues and clues they used to get to the clinic. Surprisingly, only one person used the clinic GPS coordinates. While this person was most confident and efficient navigator, knowing 3/4 of our testers did not use the coordinates further highlighted the importance of abundant, updated, and legible signage.

Wayfinding Mockups and Simulation Testing

While Rie and I focused on navigation and wayfinding, my teammates were working on prototyping potential clinic layouts. These layouts were tested in SIMS 4. This software was chosen because of its minimal learning curve and the ability for our testers to easily walk through and interact with the clinic environment. Alisa, Ngan, and Krezia did testing on two layouts and incorporated their feedback into the final design guidelines.

From our research and prototyping, Rie created some beautiful wayfinding signage for our design guidelines I would like to showcase here. These are not my digital mockups.

Design Guidelines

Our team's final deliverable for our clients at ACC was a 59-page PDF outlining specific design recommendations based on and supported by the research and prototyping we had completed.

During this project I facilitated faculty and staff interviews, led the faculty workshop, created a survey soliciting feedback from 8 medical students on their primary = care clinic's design, led the Highland intercepts with 15+ students, arranged and attended 4/4 navigation tests, and observed 1 day of SIMulation testing.

For our final design guidelines, I highlighted the services and features that had been woven throughout our research and how those services might be implemented. I used my experience running Dell's free clinic for individuals experiencing homeless and rotating through 15+ clinical placement sites to supplement my recommendations. You can see examples of my design recommendations and the full 59-page PDF below.

>> View Complete Design Guidelines <<

Thank You

My team and I had an incredible time working with Austin Community College on this project. At every stage of the process, the ACC team removed barriers to our work and connected us to wonderful faculty members to interview and gain perspective from. I cannot wait to see the completed Riverbat Clinic!

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