In 1859, City Hospital opened in Indianapolis first to treat small pox and then to serve as a military hospital. Over the next 155 years, as the facility evolved, added services, and changed names—from City Hospital to Indianapolis General Hospital in 1947 and Wishard Memorial Hospital in 1975—it didn’t always have the capital structure to incorporate new designs and technological advancements, instead opting to do small upgrades here and there.

The result was a confusing campus with buildings dating back 100 years, surgery rooms located directly below the cafeteria, and a wayfinding system that was more labyrinth than cohesive corridors.

“It was a hodgepodge of 17 different buildings,” says Matt Gutwein, president and CEO of Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County (Indianapolis), the parent company of Eskenazi Health. “No two [buildings] were the same floor height.”

In 2009, Wishard put a referendum on the ballot to build a new hospital campus. The measure was approved with 85 percent voter support. Additional philanthropic donations came in to assist with building a new 1.2 million square-foot hospital and health campus, including a $40 million donation from Indianapolis residents Sidney and Lois Eskenazi, which was recognized by naming the new hospital and health system (Eskenazi Health) in their honor.

In the podcast below, Gutwein discusses some of the priorities that were developed to guide the design process and what makes him most proud about the project.

For more on the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, check out Healthcare Design’s November issue or read:

Eskenazi Health Embraces Its Civic Duty

Eskenazi Health Creates A Feast For The Senses

Eskenazi Health: Art history