Columbia University Medical Center’s (CUMC) flagship practice relocated to the center of midtown Manhattan where it transformed a corporate office space into a high-performance ambulatory care facility. The patient-focused center, designed by Perkins+Will (New York), is marked by refined materials and detailing, artwork donated from the JP Morgan Chase collection, and efficient planning that supports CUMC’s business plan. The LEED Gold certified project opened in January 2013.

Patients and visitors at ColumbiaDoctors Midtown are greeted by a branded sidewalk entrance and private elevator lobby. Beyond the partial first and second floors is a block-long third floor, housing a multi-specialty faculty practice for 225 doctors, dentists, and nurse practitioners. The program encompasses an imaging suite, full-service laboratory, oncology unit, and physical, occupational, and sports therapy facilities. In addition, there are over 125 examination rooms, more than 30 of which are equipped to provide a variety of procedures using a modular configuration that anticipates the practices’ evolving needs. Co-locating these services allows for collaboration among healthcare professionals, leading to a more holistic healthcare delivery process for the patient as well as efficient operations for the providers.

Despite the scale and offerings at ColumbiaDoctors Midtown, the client and design team wanted to craft personal experiences, reminiscent of visiting a private practice, for every patient. A key strategy in achieving this goal was ensuring ease of orientation throughout the facility. For example, the entry to the third floor evokes a public concourse, which connects to two “Main Streets” that move patients and visitors into a series of salon-like arrival points for each practice. Corridors end with windows whenever possible, which provides patients with therapeutic daylight and a view of the urban context of Rockefeller Center. In addition, the design team created distinct looks for each of the practices, including artwork and practice-specific accent colors. The facility’s wayfinding system, which features a directory updated in real-time, is coordinated with this color palette.

Creating a sense of luminance was also a priority, despite  the challenging floor plate size, limited opportunities for windows, and relatively low floor-to-floor heights. Careful decisions were made to overcome these constraints, including planning for corridors to end at windows, the selection of full-height doors and reduced-size lighting fixtures to create the illusion of taller ceilings, and the use of light-reflecting materials.