Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, Athens, Georgia

The Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center in Athens, Ga., serves patients from 17 counties in northeast Georgia as well as provides a training site for medical students from the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership (Athens).

The medical center had undergone renovations and expansions over time with facilities dating back to the 1930s. The result was a campus that was difficult for visitors to navigate and less than ideal for operations.

Medical campus expansion, renovation

To address these challenges, Piedmont Health embarked on a $194 million multiphased project, starting with a one-story vertical expansion and renovation to enable the relocation of 44 departments. The second phase demolished an adjacent out-of-date building and replaced it with a new six-story patient tower, creating a new main entry and wayfinding hub for the campus.

Completed in April 2022, these improvements enhance patient care, with expanded outpatient services, 128 private patient rooms, improved wayfinding, and a more effective workflow that supports the medical center’s patient-focused care model.

For staff, universally designed, point-of-care workstations and support alcoves on the inpatient floors are utilized instead of centralized nurses’ stations to keep caregivers closer to patients and shorten the distance to access supplies. Workstations are placed for direct line of sight into patient rooms, with collaboration spaces nearby for care teams.

Elements of a holistic naturalistic aesthetic

The new patient tower is sited along the street edge to emphasize an intuitive arrival sequence while creating a spacious internal courtyard, which became a key element of the design vision.

Surrounded by a residential district, the lower levels of the tower are recessed to create a welcoming “front porch” to the neighborhood, blurring the line of institution and community space. The porch hosts farmers markets, food trucks, and community wellness events.

A biophilic design concept including nature and garden-inspired themes in the use of pattern and form help bring the outdoors in and create a tranquil environment for patients, caregivers, and family members.

Furthermore, daylighting is paired with interior design selections including tones of blue and green wall paint, a living wall in the main lobby, wood accents, and natural fiber wall finishes, to create a holistic naturalistic aesthetic.


Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center project details

Location: Athens, Ga.

Completion date: April 2022

Owner: Piedmont Health

Total building area: 229,000 sq. ft.

Total construction cost: $194 million

Cost/sq. ft.: $847/sq. ft.

Architect: SmithGroup (interior architect, landscape architect, lighting designer)

Associate architect: Trinity: NAC

General contractor: DPR Construction

Owner’s Representative: BDR Partners

Engineering: Newcomb & Boyd (MEP, fire protection, acoustics, and communications design), Korda/Nemeth Engineering (structural), W&A Engineering (civil engineering)

Medical Planner: IMEG Corporation

Medical Planner: Chesapeake Healthcare Planning

Wayfinding designer: Exit Design