AIA Healthcare Awards 2009
The butterfly roof form allows daylight into the middle of the building, which is divided into three clinical pods centered on open nurses' stations, trading some privacy for openness. The pods are faced with murals visible from the street through a floor-to-ceiling glass wall.
"We also believed that the site, on Interstate Avenue, merited a civic-scaled building, not a one-story building that looked like it could be a pancake house," says Potestio. The solution was to design a single-story building with east and west elevations reaching two stories in height, each with a base of concrete, a middle of columns, and a top cornice made of steel.
City design guidelines necessitated an entrance on Interstate Avenue, but most patients would be entering the building from the parking lot on the other side. Thus, the architects created an entry sequence along the north facade — with one set of doors just off Interstate and another leading from the parking lot — that brings visitors to a single vestibule, regardless of their mode of arrival.
Patient areas were expanded in square footage compared to Providence's previous clinics to accommodate the large immigrant families that compose much of the local patient base. "The old clinic was next door to a bar. Patients would actually wait there for their appointment," Schopf laughs. "It's nice to be able to give them a more pleasant place to wait." The new clinic exemplifies a broader trend toward creating more inviting spaces for patients and their loved ones as well as employees.
The Peter O. Kohler Pavilion is part of the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus atop Marquam Hill, overlooking downtown Portland and the Willamette River. The new building houses an intensive care unit, operating rooms, and treatment suites, and the new Center for Women's Health. The Los Angeles office of Perkins + Will designed the pavilion in a joint venture with Petersen Kolberg & Associates of Portland.
The building's south elevations introduce natural daylight and provide dramatic views looking out through a floor-to-ceiling curtain wall towards the Willamette and Mount Hood. The north walls, facing into the historic heart of the campus, are articulated with punched windows in brick and stone.
The pavilion's arrival court is a large garden area created atop a 450-space parking structure. Cascading landscaped roof decks provide intimate gardens as well as terraces for the public to enjoy the panoramic views. "One of [then-OHSU president] Peter Kohler's strong directives was he didn't want to look down and see cars parked," says Nick Seierup, design director for Perkins + Will's L.A. office. "So any view looks out over greenery."
As in the Providence project, these aesthetics demonstrate "a trend toward maximizing the patient experience," Seierup says. "Studies actually prove patient outcomes are improved by access to views and natural daylight. And it's proven to have a lasting beneficial effect on staff. They make fewer errors; they're able to read charts better. There's a whole trickle-down of effects."
The pavilion is connected to the upper terminus of the Portland Aerial Tram, which links Marquam Hill to the university's new riverfront Schnitzer Campus. Visitors can move through the Kohler building and the tram station along a "pedestrian highway" on the ninth floor, extending beyond to other buildings via footbridges. "Doctors, students, faculty, patients — they're all moving through this space," says Seierup. "The notion that chance encounters can lead to breakthroughs is one of the main principles behind this pedestrian highway. All along that path are breakout spaces to encourage that."
Vision for Cancer Care
The award for an unbuilt project went to a cancer treatment and research facility in Wilmington, Delaware, designed by HKS, Inc. in a joint venture with UHS Building Solutions. The facility is planned for a site on the Delaware River. As a result, water became a symbolic and unifying element in the project. In the design, the three glass-ensconced structures — a clinic, a full-service hospital, and a research laboratory — are connected by a series of water features that parallel the outdoor circulation paths.
"The health facility building type is being positively transformed," says AIA jury chair Stephen Yundt, AIA, ACHA, a principal with CO Architects, remarking that the 2009 award-winners and other entries "reinforced the fact that the hospital of the future is here and bears little resemblance to facilities designed just a few years ago."
As with schools, offices, grocery stores, and a spectrum of different building types, healthcare facilities must satisfy a variety of needs simultaneously. These buildings must provide proper equipment and functional needs for fighting illness and injury; today the tools in this struggle often include psychological, aesthetic, and environmental considerations in a holistic healing setting. In other words, the projects honored by the AIA Healthcare Awards are evidence of hospitals becoming more truly hospitable.
The 2009 AIA National Healthcare Design Awards were announced on July 28.
In addition to jury chair Stephen Yundt, the jury included Julie Snow, FAIA, Julie Snow Architects, Minneapolis; Rand Elliot, AIA, Elliott & Associates Architects, Oklahoma City; Rolf Haarstad, AIA, Hord Coplan Macht, Inc., Baltimore; and Tom Howorth, AIA, Howorth Architects P.A., Oxford, Mississippi.
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Brian Libby is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer who has also published in Metropolis, Architectural Record, the Christian Science Monitor, and the New York Times. More by Brian Libby