Wellspring Medical Center in Woodburn, Oregon, embodies a new concept for healthcare delivery that is designed to encourage and empower people to become and stay healthy. Wellspring’s beautiful new 89,000-square-foot facility is the first comprehensive wellness center in the region that promotes physical fitness, healthy lifestyles and preventative care through such services as integrative medicine, a spa, fitness center, aesthetics, dermatology, health education center, immediate care, physical therapy/rehabilitation, conference center, and even a “fresh and healthy” bistro.

Located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Woodburn’s 20,000 residents comprise the state’s largest city without its own hospital. Silverton Hospital, which provides services to the area from 10 miles away, saw this as an opportunity to establish a highly visible presence in the underserved but growing city of Woodburn.

Silverton Hospital has developed an innovative strategy to combine wellness care and complementary medicine with a much-needed immediate care center. The goal of the strategy was to increase community health while simultaneously building a stronger relationship that would ultimately increase utilization of Silverton Hospital by Woodburn residents. In addition, Silverton Hospital Network’s CEO Bill Winter wanted to “go beyond the feeding trough of federal and insurance reimbursement and enter into the huge retail wellness industry.” Opened in 2007, the new Wellspring Medical Center was designed to be a very special facility that would serve the region’s growing population and provide effective entry for consumers into the Silverton Hospital network.

In 2004, Silverton Hospital, working with developer Webstar 5, took over a commercial eyesore along Woodburn’s busiest street in the form of a big box retail building that stood empty for five years (figure 1). Wellspring Medical Center, which has been serving patients for over a year, is the result of the hospital’s three-part vision to:

The old big box store was transformed into a statement of health through additions and remodeling

Daniel Dinges, Photographer

  • Empower customers to take charge of transforming their health

  • Offer needed customer services within a supportive, natural environment

  • Provide a dramatic and memorable setting to inspire health

The Wellspring program combines elements in new ways to increase community health while at the same time reinforcing Silverton Hospital Network’s market position. Unlike traditional medical facilities, Wellspring fulfills broader roles as:

  • A lifestyle center that makes being healthy fun and easy, which leads patients to appreciate and trust the Silverton Hospital Network;

  • A welcoming place to see one’s doctor or therapist, resulting in referrals to specialists and other hospital services; and

  • An educational venue for learning about health through classes in the conference center led by Wellspring physicians.

Clark/Kjos Architects was an active partner with Silverton Hospital in conceptualizing what Wellspring would become. The team spent a year together creating an initial vision, brainstorming alternatives, experimenting with various models to balance retail and medical services, studying proposals for exterior and interior design elements, and working with the contractor and developer to meet budget.

While the facility’s overall mission was clearly defined to help make the community healthier, determining the specific mix of services to be offered was pivotal to Wellspring’s success. The team created three criteria by which to measure the effectiveness of each option:

  • How well does it relate to the theme of health and personal empowerment?

  • Is this a program or service for which people will pay?

  • Is it a service that will complement the hospitals strategic goals and objective?

The team developed a space utilization program by exploring effective combinations of services to balance what would fit the building and the community. As the vision developed, the team realized that the hospital had no business experience with many of the suggested components such as a conference center, fitness center, spa, retail store (figure 2), and restaurant (figure 3). Visits were made to individual businesses of each type to learn about the marketplace and a plan was created for strategic recruitment for key positions, such as a former NBA star for athletic club consultant.

The Source health retail

Michael Mathers, Photographer

The Bistro has a fireplace and comfortable seating at its entrance

Michael Mathers, Photographer

Woodburn is not an upscale community, however Wellspring needed to draw from a broader upscale demographic. The design team had to consider what would bring in their target customers—people interested in being healthy and committed to achieving that goal. The team understood that Wellspring first had to attract people to experience the unique environment and combination of services inside. Because most people are more comfortable purchasing services from a known healthcare provider, Wellspring’s design echoes Silverton Hospital’s signature red façade and wood trellis for consistent identity and reinforced brand recognition.

Wellspring’s layout incorporates the best elements of retail design with anchors in the back—one corner the fitness center and the other corner the conference center—placing other services between the front door and these anchors so visitors become aware of them.

Another way patrons come to use services in the center is through cross-referral (figure 4). Integrative Medicine is often the first reason for visiting; from there, clients may be referred to the fitness center, the weight management program, rehabilitation, health retail, spa, or education center.

Integrative Medicine is the heart of the building. Customers are referred to other services

Despite its former life as a drab, boxy, industrial-grade retail building, Wellspring’s interior provides a calm, therapeutic environment, inspired by nature in its forms, colors, textures, materials, furnishings and lighting. The reclaimed building is organized around interior gardens cut into central spaces that are visible from almost everywhere within the facility (figure 5). The gardens open the center of the building to daylight and nature with artwork, plantings, and landforms. In addition to promoting good wayfinding and relaxing spaces, the gardens help to blur the distinction between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Wellspring program areas are arranged around a central garden and circulation loop

The original 18-foot-high bay structure necessitated the creation of lower-scaled areas, using various ceiling heights, materials, and lighting. In the Commons (main public circulation) curved wooden lattice was hung as a ceiling to add warmth and create a sense of movement through the area (figure 6). Various configurations of acoustical clouds are used in areas desiring a more intimate atmosphere, bringing down the immense scale of the building without making it feel claustrophobic.

The oval circulation loop is a lively and inviting space connecting all programs

Michael Mathers, Photographer

Wellspring is not only unique in Woodburn, but in the larger healthcare industry for its unusual approach to integrating medical and consumer services as positive experiences that are linked by a common vision of helping people be healthy. In addition, the new facility provides Silverton Hospital with a highly visible presence in a growing community that is likely to utilize other network services. HD

James T. (Tom) Clark, Jr., AIA, is a founding Principal of Clark/Kjos Architects, LLC, a firm of 38 people with offices in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.

For more information, contact Tom Clark at 503.224.4848 or 206.652.0722, or via e-mail at tomclark@ckarch.com.


Thinking green

In keeping with Wellspring’s mission of holistic health, the building’s design and construction practices incorporated sustainable design and green materials:


  • 100% of the old “big box” store’s shell was reused

  • 90% of the construction waste was recycled


  • Daylighting through large windows and skylights

  • Specialized glazing to reduce heat gain

  • High-efficiency HVAC equipment and light fixtures


  • Renewable and LOW VOC (linoleum, wheat board, bamboo, paints, adhesives, and rubber)

  • Recycled content (steel, carpet, fabrics, concrete, tile, and furniture)


  • Majority was manufactured locally

  • Unpacked and allowed to off-gas prior to installation


  • Two large interior healing gardens

  • Low water consumption and low-maintenance plantings

  • Parking lot plantings to reduce heat island effects

  • Outdoor water feature utilizes reclaimed water