Owned by Banner Health, Banner – University Medical Center Tucson (Banner — UMC Tuscon) is the region’s only academic medical center and level one trauma center in southern Arizona. Shepley Bulfinch, a national architecture firm with offices in Boston, Houston and Phoenix, was selected to lead the programming, planning and design of the new $400 million, 700,000-square-foot clinical tower. Replacing an aging portion of the existing hospital, the nine-story, 204-bed medical tower facility will feature updated and expanded operating rooms with an integrated imaging and interventional floor, and all-private patient rooms.

Banner – UMC Tucson varies slightly from the standard Banner Health site configuration but reinforces Banner’s practice of template planning and standardization. Due to the larger size of the medical center and a finite urban site, the bed tower was stacked on top of the base instead of adjacent to it. Consequently, Shepley Bulfinch had to develop a new massing approach that allowed for effective circulation while maintaining a positive patient and visitor experience. The result is a tower built on four large base levels of 100,000 square feet each and five floors of nursing units above.

With more than 30 hospitals, the Banner Healthcare System is known for its templates to standardize space planning. For Banner – UMC Tucson, the Banner brand will be reflected through the same materials found elsewhere in the Banner network, but with new colors and combinations unique to Tucson and the Sonoran desert. The ground face and textured masonry units consist of aggregates and mixes informed by the landscape where the building is located.  The metals associated with the landscape are vernacular rusted steel while the full-spectrum interior color palette comprises hues present in the Tucson landscape. Natural colors are blended with shades of green, ochre, blues and cerise, providing visual interest. The buildings are designed with views of the Catania Mountains and all the public spaces are connected to the exterior and support wayfinding through the building.

One of the challenges on the Banner – UMC Tucson project was to adapt the Banner template to support the academic nature of this hospital. As an academic medical center with a medical school, Shepley Bulfinch had to create space for collaboration and teaching, unlike other Banner facilities.

The project team for Banner – UMC Tucson includes GLHN Architects and Engineers, associate architect and engineer; Sundt and DPR Construction, contractors (a joint venture); AEI, Affiliated Engineers Inc., MEP design engineer; Martin, White & Griffis, structural design engineer; Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., civil design engineer; Norris Design, landscape architect.