group of thinkers before ever putting pencil to paper. Stakeholders, builders,
and designers came together and analyzed the delivery of care from all
angles, and examined how design influences outcomes for patient, staff,
the public, and everyone involved with the facility.
“The charrette broke down into all kinds of categories, and we used
our findings as a guideline to bring evidence-based priorities into the
process. It was a very conscientious decision,” Rinella added.
For care providers, the 120-bed tower features computers for medical
use in every patient room, 14 operating rooms with “smart” surgical
suites, the newest innovations in minimally invasive and robotic surgeries,
and advanced information systems that allow for immediate clinical
collaboration. Other strategies take non-medical hospital experiences into
greater consideration, including natural lighting, comfortable care and
waiting areas, and way-finding that goes beyond signage and provides a
sense of orientation.
“We try to give occupants choice and control,” said Rinella. “When
patients are in a medical facility, whether planned or an emergency,
there’s usually a high level of stress. Family and visitors are also upset,
anxious, or confused. People need quick awareness of where to go to
ask questions, get directions, and receive advice. By offering a sense of
place and the human touch, you introduce a sense of control—but also
of warmth and comfort.”
According to the designers, another important evidence-based element of
the project is biophilia, which is achieved by bringing the outdoors in. Large
patient room windows with responsive shades animate the interior with the
sun’s movement. An exterior healing garden on the fourth floor provides
calming views while offering respite for patients, visitors, and staff alike.
“While we may not always call biophilic design by that name, it’s so
consistent with the way we approach our work, and how any thoughtful
healthcare setting is approached,” said Damon Barda, senior designer at
Taylor Design. “It brings in nature in a more holistic sense by connecting
the user to natural environments.”
Views of swaying trees allow users to break up their stagnant, staccato
hospital stay and get in touch with rhythms of nature, explained Barda.
“It’s so important to experience the natural world versus the metronomic,
tick-tick-tick tempo that is so manmade,” he said.
When views aren’t available, flora patterns unique to each floor
appear in carpet, panels, wood, and other materials throughout the facility.
Upper levels use eucalyptus designs because of its healing properties,
while the fourth floor takes a more Zen-like approach with bamboo,
lotuses, and cherry blossoms.
Completed five months ahead of schedule, the St. Jude tower has only been
occupied for a matter of weeks, said Rinella. But the design team already
has plans to return. A major facet of evidence-based processes involves
studying the results of design decisions.
“It will be interesting to go back and interact with the staff to learn
their reactions and how things are being used,” Rinella explained.
The team will distribute scorecards that act as occupant surveys and
help to analyze priorities, applications, and outcomes. Human health is
an ongoing journey, so it’s fitting that facility health has its own routine
“We want to know how things are actually playing out in the space,”
Rinella said. “It can give us great insight into what to do next time.”
42 INTERIORS & SOURCES FEBRUARY 2015 interiorsandsources.com
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