In mapping out a vision for TriHealth’s Harold M. and Eugenia S. Thomas Comprehensive Care Center in Cincinnati, architecture firm GBBN (Cincinnati) and landscape architects and public space designers Realm Collaborative (Columbus, Ohio) sought to create a departure from the traditional healthcare campus.

The vision was to create a garden setting that the new specialty outpatient and ambulatory care center building would sit in. But first, the design team had to address the site. The site was an existing parking lot adjacent to the main hospital and primarily hardscaped and surrounded by beds of grass.

Among the improvements to the campus setting were consolidating parking on the other side of campus to free up space around the Thomas Center. Additionally, the team sought to increase the area available for greenspace, including tree-lined pathways and seating spaces near the hospital entry.

The project team also bermed the earth surrounding the building to help it feel nestled within the landscape.

To further maximize green space for both the center and the hospital, the project team proposed a roughly 3 percent increase in landscape plantings on the site area. This represents approximately 20,000 square feet of newly installed vegetation—beyond the code-required minimum.

The groundcover and plant beds are filled with a diverse vegetative palette, nearly all native and adaptive species, with variation in texture, density, and color.

In areas of the site where select trees were removed or had to be trimmed, the work was coordinated and scheduled to avoid the roosting of the Indiana brown bats (a local and endangered species).

Additionally, vegetated roof terraces were created to provide visual distraction to patients and staff and shade the glazing to regulate indoor human comfort. Plantings here are partially non-native to withstand heightened wind and sun exposure and maximize the longevity of the design.


Anne DiNardo is executive editor of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at