Interlace – A Hospital Entrance Design (Confidential Competition)
Immersed in a complex context and serving multi-disciplinary needs, the hospital’s entrance required considerations for the community, pedestrian and vehicular access, and noise reduction. The design program needed to address the existing building’s lack of connection to the campus and to create an iconic visage that anchors the facility in the community. Addressing the revitalization of the entrance and the visitor’s access to the site became key drivers in the design process. The inspiration of an ‘Interlace’ allowed the designers to take their cues from a ribbon. A ribbon Connects, Clarifies, Characterizes and Celebrates.
CONNECT: Unite the vocabulary.
CLARIFY: Undo the complexity.
CHARACTERIZE: Unique stewardship responses.
CELEBRATE: Unfold the iconic presence.
Being an entrance to a hospital affords the potential to create a framework that can knit the front doors of the entire health district to improve legibility and navigation. The guest experience of the new design creates a signature front door for the flagship hospital. Concierge services, the café and gardens create amenities for the hospital befitting the high-quality experience that the healthcare market is striving to achieve today. With the expertise from four market sectors– Healthcare, Hospitality, Interior, and Urban Planning – the lobby creates a seamless, positive and indelible experience for the users. From the comfortable spacious drop off with waterfall and gardens, curvy gentle lines of the architecture and interiors create a seamless flow so that family and care providers can focus on the comfort and wellbeing of the patient. The split-level lobby allows for two unique experiences; an entrance on the ground level connecting to the streetscape and above the drop off via a grand stairway through a lush garden. These two distinct approaches encourage users to stay active and promote proactive rather than reactive care. Additionally, through the implementation of multiple gardens, patients and staff will be embraced by nature providing them with a relaxing environment that reduces much of the stress often associated with working and visiting a hospital. While still allowing natural light in, a sweeping brise-soleil on the south portion of the facade and ceramic frit patterns on the high-performance curtain wall reduce the solar heat gain; while still allowing visitors the opportunity to be exposed to filtered natural light, which can improve their mood and overall health. Energy efficiency was enhanced by placing a displacement ventilation system and LED light fixtures while providing comfort.
Design ChallengeIn its current configuration, finding the entrance to the hospital is unclear and confusing. Starting at the intersection of NW 12th Avenue and NW 14th Street, there is no instinctive and direct way that guides vehicles and pedestrians to an arrival area. From the south and east, approaching pedestrians are kept at bay by a creek and they must either skirt the south side of the building on a narrow sidewalk to a hidden portal in the base of the garage or they must ascend a vehicular ramp on the northeast side that poses much danger to pedestrians. The perspective of those who use and interact with the current facility is pivotal in shaping the experience for the future. Hence, the design team walked the streets to identify frequent users and requested targeted information from about 20 different people from various backgrounds. The insight thus received played a critical role in the proposed design.
The proposed site layout simplifies circulation by separating pedestrians and vehicles across two levels thus enhancing the safety and clarity. The arrival is hinged by intersection improvements that translate into a vibrant plaza activated by points of entry, mixed uses, the creek and purposeful landscape. Intentional design strategies that contribute to a healthy environment are distributed for seamless integration into the urban fabric. Examples of such strategies that are a result of Point of Decision Design approach are: attractive and noticeable stair placement, increased visibility of choices, street furnishings integrated with landscape, social spine of evident gathering niches near healthy food / activity and recharge zones for mind, body, spirit and technology. This language of clarity and reduced complexity starts at the site and is continued through the interior spaces with intuitive way-finding features and signage that help eliminate the disorientation that currently dominates the facility.
Physical ContextWithin the densely populated urban context of Miami, Florida, this medical center entrance became a project that needed to address diverse challenges. The goal of the design competition was to provide not only an iconic architectural and urban solution to a disjointed campus and tired facility, but at its core, also offer a much-needed resolve to improve the wellbeing of the patients, family members and care providers. Surrounded by a very harsh urban environment: with 92-degree weather, 80% humidity, a massive intersection with 8 lanes of traffic to cross, train tracks above with an overwhelming 90 decibel noise level, the proposed site and lobby are designed to ensure that the visitor and care providers are de-stressed as they arrive through the lush gardens and expansive overhangs that shelter the guests. Wagner creek intersects the site and this challenge has been leveraged into an opportunity by articulating a plaza to punctuate it and using it as a background for native landscape. In addition, the street intersections are improved as branded platforms that allow the mission of the medical campus to be represented at the gateway points. As a response to the dreariness of the existing architecture, soft curving sinuous lines, ‘healing lines’, come together to create a gentle graceful, protecting envelope with an oculus at its center to bathe the two-story lobby with natural light. Envisioned as a living room to the community, the spacious ground level not only responds to the need to improve the patient flow but fulfills the vision to re-position the hospital as an anchor to the medical campus and the community.