Many providers have started to transform staff workspaces, moving away from traditional models of assigned offices and segregated departments, and designers are considering a variety of approaches to accommodate the shift. The new University of Minnesota Ambulatory Care Center, a $160 million project, offers one interesting take on the concept.

For this project, the owners “recognize the fact that they need to be a lot more interactive and interdisciplinary in the way that they approach care,” says Jocelyn M. Stroupe, a principal at CannonDesign (Chicago). “Creating places where various providers and caregivers can interact with one another was important to advance that mission.”

“The client came to us with the idea that there should be no traditional offices in this building,” adds Randy Guillot, a design principal at CannonDesign (Chicago).

Rather, the university wanted an environment that allowed the clinical staff to work comfortably without duplicating office space that existed on other academic buildings on campus. The design team developed a plan to provide a choice of work settings, including open and shared spaces to bring together previously separated teams. Guided by the idea of corporate hoteling spaces, these collaboration and touchdown spaces are located on multiple floors of the 330,000-square-foot center.

The collaboration spaces are located in the center of each clinic module and used by the care and research teams during clinic time with patients. They’re designed to support such activities as caregiver meetings, patient record reviewing, and teaching. Doors can be closed as needed to ensure privacy or remain open to permit flow between exam rooms.

Touchdown spaces wrap around the perimeter of the building and are provided for staff to conduct quiet, focused work that’s done outside of clinic hours, such as charting, dictation, and patient follow-ups. Natural light illuminates the areas, and fritted glass walls are used to provide privacy while still allowing daylight to enter the interior.

“The idea is that if anyone wants to come and work in the building, they can choose any touchdown space to be in,” Stroupe says. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be right outside the clinic where they’re working; it could be on another floor.”

The location of procedure and exam rooms in the core of the facility as well as the motivation to provide access to natural light and views to the outdoors as a means to reduce staff stress drove the decision to designate the perimeter space for work areas. “We talk a lot about the benefits of [daylight and views] for patients when they’re in a healthcare environment,” Stroupe says. “It’s equally important for staff to be able to enjoy them.”

The touchdown and collaboration spaces are built from the same kit of parts, using a standard module with flexible components, such as file pedestals, overhead storage, task lighting, divider panels, and keyboard arms, which can be added depending on staff needs.  The workspaces are wireless, and laptop computers will be installed for added mobility.

The new ambulatory center is expected to be completed in 2016.