Perkins+Will, with a unique collaborative team of design and engineering consultants, leading artists, and The Johns Hopkins Hospital Facilities and Design staff, designed a new 1.6-million-square-foot complex for the leading academic medical center and U.S. News and World Report's #1-ranked hospital. Opening May 1, 2012, the facility will serve as a new gateway to the medical campus while transforming the healthcare experience.
Distinguished by its curved shape, articulated forms, bold color, gardens, and natural light, the structure includes two 12-story towers, The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children's Center and the Sheikh Zayed Tower for adult patient care, that rise from an eight-story base. The design for the new clinical building provides a clear identity for each tower composed into a unified whole. The complex includes 560 private patient rooms, 33 state-of-the-art operating rooms, and expansive new adult and pediatric emergency departments. Its integrated healthcare planning and design supports both the most advanced medical technology and the latest evidence-based strategies for ideal patient-oriented care.
"Hospitals are often designed as containers for the important functions within, giving little regard to how people will experience the space," said Ralph Johnson, Perkins+Will's design principal for the project. "We were able to design a building that establishes a new identity for the hospital and presents a new face to the campus and community, while creating interiors that bring the healing benefits of the outdoors in with abundant natural light and as many views to green spaces as possible."
The curvilinear glass and brick building, accented with colorful panels, serves as the new front door to the hospital and the entire 14-acre campus. The architecture guides people to the entrance where a canopy extends the length of the entrance sheltering the emergency and hospital entryways. A landscaped entry plaza, the size of a football field, leads the way into a two-story skylit adult tower lobby with a meditation garden as well as the soaring four-story children's lobby.
In a rare approach, from the outset of the facility's planning and design, a multidisciplinary project partnership was established for a highly interactive process of creative exchange. This unique collaboration included Perkins+Will, artists from across the country, an art curator, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Johns Hopkins staff and leadership. As a result of this alliance, the building now incorporates over 500 works of art created for the facility by more than 70 artists, as well as numerous healing gardens, to create a dignified, uplifting, and nurturing environment.
A key design feature of the building, created in collaboration with Brooklyn-based artist Spencer Finch, is a shimmering glass curtain wall that covers much of the building’s exterior. Perkins+Will worked closely with Finch and the project partnership over many months to integrate the architecture with the artist’s concept. The result is a multi-colored two-layered fritted glass façade that incorporates Finch’s unique approach to color. Its effect moderates the Baltimore light by day and transforms the building into a glowing composition of color and light by night.
“Art is fully integrated into the architecture and is not an afterthought," said Eric Van Aukee of Perkins+Will, managing principal on the project. “With Spencer, we collaborated for months to understand the connection between materials we were using and how the colors would be perceived. At the same time, the art is very much a part of the building’s functionality and overall patient and visitor experience.”
In a reinvention of healthcare interiors and furnishings, Perkins+Will deployed a strategy designed to evoke joyful, diverting, and humanizing architectural experiences, including daylight-filled areas; the prominent roles of gardens; bold palettes of pure artist colors; whimsical, elegant, and diverting furniture; and timeless materials such as marble, limestone, terrazzo, and wood. “Working with the team, we carefully considered the character and quality of public and patient areas, looking at color, furniture, materials, and places where art could be incorporated into the experience,” said Carolyn BaRoss, Perkins+Will interior design principal. “We believe that aesthetic pleasure shouldn’t only be for the healthy. Color and light especially are used to create an uplifting experience, which is atypical of healthcare environments. And we infused both the Children’s and Adult towers with equally rich color and light design details.”
While the art and design are the most visible expressions of the new hospital’s patient-centric focus, Johns Hopkins’ commitment to state-of-the-art technology and focus on rethinking hospital operations and layout will also yield incalculable benefits. “The medical planning of the hospital presents a new paradigm for healthcare,” said Jean Mah, planning principal at Perkins+Will. “We were able to reconfigure conventional space planning throughout the hospital for a collaborative, highly effective, and humane environment.”
The new hospital’s healthcare planning resulted in an unprecedented level of co-location and proximity for medical technology and services to achieve the quality results of a patient-focused and staff-supportive environment. For example, all pediatric radiology staff and equipment are for the first time located near operating rooms, surgery prep, and recovery areas to improve collaboration and workflow among medical staff, and minimize transporting young vulnerable patients.
Increasingly, quality patient care includes acoustical sensitivity, so the hospital has a quiet nurse call system to replace the disturbance of constant overhead paging. Other strategies include sound-absorptive and deflecting ceiling tiles, soffits, wall configurations, fabric-wrapped wall panels, and even custom light fixtures—that serve as both acoustical buffer and dimmable lights for a soft glow at night—to create a tranquil environment. Additionally, many green materials and sustainable systems were employed throughout the hospital.