Zhejiang University School of Medicine’s new First Affiliated Hospital Yuhang & Medical Research Center in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, opened in November 2020 in a fast-growing section of town where a growing number of high-tech firms have located.

“There were no hospitals in this part of town,” says Sangmin Lee, China health regional director at HDR (San Francisco). HDR worked with local partner Zhejiang Province Institute of Architectural Design & Research to provide architecture, planning, and consulting services on the project. “Zhejiang University sought to rectify that situation by creating a state-of-the-art hospital and medical research center there,” Lee says.

Additionally, Yuan Qiaomei, director of the hospital’s preparation office and its deputy chief physician, says the university’s medical school wanted the complex to have an international standing and a forward-looking view, so that it would attract top-tier medical talent to both the hospital and its research labs.

To create such an environment, HDR’s schema for the hospital incorporated translational collaboration, close attention to the patient experience, and flexible infrastructures, Lee says.

“The design incorporates strategic adjacencies that are designed to enhance collaboration across departments and specialties and help them to operate as one ‘organism,’ rather than as separate departments in isolation,” Lee explains.


Hospital campus planning

The layout for the 5 million-square-foot, 1,200-bed hospital features large interlocking blocks of departments connected by a central spine to make circulation simple and direct, says Lee.

“The modular and orthogonal design layout we used increases the efficiency of spaces inside the building by making them easily programmable.”

The campus’ overall layout consists of two main clusters: On its east side is a set of three interconnected inpatient towers sitting back-to-back. The first two towers in the complex have 641 and 677 beds, respectively, while the last high-rise in the sequence consists of a 21-bed VIP hospital and lab space that can be converted to deliver inpatient or outpatient services as needed.

An administration building at the front of the complex is connected via a glass skywalk to a set of three interconnected research facilities on the hospital’s west side.

The lower floors of the hospital podium and research center feature a brick façade similar to that found in the university’s main campus.

Set within that brick are vertical windows designed to create a sense of visual unity for the campus, Lee says. Meantime, the upper floors of the patient towers have a contemporary white façade.


Modern healthcare aesthetics

Inside, the hospital features a bright, modern aesthetic with pops of color and natural materials, including in patient and staff areas. On the administration building’s first four floors, floor-to-ceiling windows let abundant sunshine in.

And in the main corridor in the complex’s research building, suspended spherical structures are designed to evoke the transparent nature of the translational health sciences environment.

Outside on the hospital’s grounds, the project team created an open layout and amenity mix that includes a tea house, garden, and central pavilion for free lectures.

The offerings are designed to become a destination for patients’ families as well as neighborhood residents.

“The campus has become a community gathering place,” the hospital’s Qiaomei says. “Statistically speaking, we’ve found there are more visitors coming to the hospital than expected for both medical purposes and community-collaboration purposes. That exposure reinforces our presence and prominence within the area.”


Matthew Hall is a freelance writer/editor based in Cincinnati. He can be reached at matt.hall56@icloud.com.