“A game changer!” declares Percy E. Roberts III, president and chief operating officer of VOA Associates. Roberts wasn’t the only juror for the HEALTHCARE DESIGN Architectural and Interior Design Showcase competition to be wowed by the Miami Valley Hospital project submitted by NBBJ’s Columbus, Ohio, office.

“It’s a simple, clean design vocabulary that’s reflected in both the exterior and the interior,” says juror Janet Kobylka, senior associate, healthcare, HOK.

With a very tight construction schedule and confined footprint, NBBJ and the Miami Valley Hospital Heart and Orthopedic Center needed a bold approach. In early work sessions, the team started talking about prefabrication initiatives. “It was like a simultaneous lightbulb went off,” says Tim Fishking, AIA, principal for NBBJ. “We started talking about what the opportunities were. The ideas just began to flow.”

The result of those conversations was a widespread implementation of prefabrication for the patient rooms and MEP racks. Through BIM, everything was designed and coordinated; the actual units and rooms were constructed offsite and then brought in and installed, a process that shaved two months off the schedule.

The prefab decision is what inspired Roberts’s “game-changer” designation. “This methodology is past due in this country,” he says. “It’s a dramatic step in improving production, schedule, and quality.”

The acuity-adaptable design of the rooms stood out to the jury, as well. “Every room can handle low-acuity cases all the way up to cardiac ICU cases,” says Ryan Hullinger, principal, NBBJ. “And that allows for adaptability going forward. If case loads change, or if medical technology or practice care models evolve in the future, whole floors can adapt in terms of function without requiring major modifications to the architecture.”

And the benefits to the patient and family are significant. “Typically, when you get to ICU-level care, that room has been stripped of almost everything that adds comfort to the family. It’s purely about optimizing the staff’s ergonomics and ability to perform,” Hullinger says. “Of course, staff performance is paramount in an ICU environment. But the Miami Valley rooms are optimized for the staff without sacrificing patient and family comforts.”

A wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling window provides each room’s most striking feature, along with that all-important access to natural views and daylight. The introduction of green space in the center of the campus has garnered the most positive feedback from the facility and its end-users, Fishking says. The design team and client opted for a park-like setting over a more manicured space, with flowing water and ample trees and plantings. “They all work as a counterpart to the formal architecture surrounding that space,” Fishking says.

On top of everything, the LEED Silver-certified facility meets the 2030 Challenge energy benchmarks.