A visit to two local healthcare facilities in the Cleveland Clinic Health System provided a rare treat for HEALTHCARE DESIGN’s Editor-in-Chief Todd Hutlock and I, along with the Editor-in-Chief on Healthcare Building Ideas Jennifer Kovacs Silvis. As we’ve mentioned before, visiting various healthcare sites is always such a pleasure as it gives us a chance to get a better understanding of how design and architecture aids in advancing patient care. We visited the Twinsburg Family and Health Surgery Center and the Hillcrest Hospital which are both on Cleveland’s eastside.

Philip LiBassi, AIA, ACHA, and Ronald A. Reed, FAIA, project architects at Westlake Reed Leskosky (WRL), showed us around the facilities and shared with us some of the thoughts that went into these projects. The firm was the architect on both plans and had a very clear understanding and vision of how it wanted to convey the message of patient care, a vision that may not necessarily fall in line with today’s trends.

The Twinsburg center is in a suburban setting, built on 80 acres with 37 acres set aside for conservation, something WRL kept uppermost in mind as they worked on the facility. The clean lines of the building are designed to integrate with the scenery and bring in the surrounding natural environment into the center by having visual connectivity with the scenery. The glass wall that wraps around most of the building invites in a large amount of daylighting, provides eye-catching views from each floor, and lends itself to a less intrusive form of wayfinding.

One of the many things that WRL sought to accomplish was to look at wayfinding from a different perspective. Gone are the signs at every step. Instead, as Reed pointed out, WRL used the concept of being able to shoot an arrow down a hallway—a straight view that always ends with a view out to nature.  The circulation path for patients and visitors is kept to the outer glass wall, and walking through the center you quickly realize that keeping bearings simple with “landmark” views provides a better and more relaxed experience. On every floor you are treated to a view of the outdoors. Infusion bays on the fourth floor look outside to give the patients the feeling of being in or on top of the trees.

The multistory family health center connects with the two-story ambulatory surgery center/ED with a design that allows for future expansion.

At Hillcrest Hospital, WRL was charged with designing and executing a major campus expansion. Originally built in 1968, Hillcrest Hospital is in a built-up area that serves a larger community, provides more services, and has a larger traffic volume. The 5-year project involved a new four-story bed tower and additional renovations and development of the existing hospital. Again daylighting plays an important role and although views may not immediately connect to nature, designing for a calm and serene atmosphere inside the building gives a sense of inviting the outside in with the volume muted.

The atrium near the entrance of the building is welcoming and allows those in other waiting areas to access the various amenities offered in the plaza. The design maintains an unfussy effect, mirroring the simple, clean appearance of the Twinsburg location. Distractions and noise have been redirected or eliminated through the use of technology or the change of the floor plan. LiBassi notes that the idea at these facilities was to keep the look fresh and timeless.

Also read about our visit at Healthcare Building Ideas