UHealth Gables, The Lennar Foundation Medical Center
Located at the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus, the UHealth Lennar Foundation Medical Center is the flagship of the University of Miami/UHealth’s outpatient services brand. The new 209,000 sf facility serves as an ambulatory surgery center and multi-disciplinary clinic for students, employees and local Coral Gables residents. Beyond the functional program of outpatient healthcare, the University of Miami required that the design of the Clinic reinforce the notion of public health and wellness in multiple aspects, including exterior public amenities, calming interior spaces, sustainable finishes, and strong connections to the University of Miami campus and Coral Gables community.
The clinical facility includes 110 multi-disciplinary exam rooms for various specialties, six ambulatory Operating Rooms, two Interventional Procedure rooms, a three room Endoscopy suite, a Chemotherapy Treatment unit, Radiation Oncology and an Imaging and Diagnostic center. The facility is designed for the potential of future expansion to include additional Interventional Operating Rooms or Procedure rooms. Specialty clinics include: Cancer, Primary Care, Physical Rehab, Women’s and Men’s Health, Surgery, Neuro-Muscular, the Bascom Palmer Eye institute, Sports Medicine and Cardiology.
The Clinic features two drop off valet stations, and is also accessed from a renovated parking structure through an enclosed and conditioned glass walkway that traverses an existing canal and landscaped area. A free standing Central Energy Plant and loading dock supports the clinic and also has the ability to expand horizontally and vertically for future growth.
The Clinic features an efficient design, based on accommodating the major flows of healthcare, eliminating conflicts between staff and public spaces, shortening travel distances, and reducing construction and operational costs. The design team also worked diligently with the users at UHealth to create an experience that celebrates the natural palette characterized by southern Florida vegetation and cut coral canals. Water, daylight and inviting transparency orient visitors and waiting patients throughout the many spaces in the clinic. The building features three patios on the ground, third and penthouse levels to create public event spaces and roof gardens for physical therapy activities and public/staff respite. An exterior water feature at the front door provides a soothing backdrop for patients arriving at the Clinic, as well as a branding/naming opportunity for UHealth. Long uninterrupted views from waiting and clinical spaces also create a connection between interior and exterior experiences.
Within the clinic, Lobbies, registration, and waiting rooms stack vertically up the building above the Ponce de Leon entry, ensuring visitors are oriented clearly at each clinic. These public spaces have panoramic views of Coral Gables and Miami, but are also the gateway to the clinical areas. The elegant glass ibis sculpture directly above the Ponce entry is visible at every level off the main elevator lobby and acts as a point of orientation for patients and the public. While a connection to place, exterior views, and elegant public spaces are important, ultimately, the building needs to serve the staff and support their mission to focus on the individual patient, and that is the success story of the Lennar Center.
Design ChallengeThe University of Miami’s and Perkins +Will's sustainability initiatives, especially relating to alternative transportation, site development, public wellness, material selection and resiliency presented a unique challenge for the design team in a healthcare setting. All these elements became features of the design, all the while, supporting the overall goals of beauty, community health and operational efficiency.
The many exterior spaces at the clinic are important features that reinforce public wellness, and help the project meet LEED requirements. The ground level terrace is immediately adjacent to an existing canal, which was restored and protected as part of this project and is lined on both sides with natural vegetation, relocated from other parts of the campus. This open space creates an exterior room and has become a natural water feature immediately adjacent to public areas. The terrace at level three is adjacent to the physical therapy gym and has become a beautiful natural space for yoga, aerobics and occupational therapy. The terrace at level five is an outdoor event space featuring a public meditation garden offering spectacular views of the Miami skyline.
Within the building itself are a number of amenities designed to serve the patient, public and staff, reinforcing the overarching public health and wellness initiative. The facility was consciously designed with less material patterning and contrasting color on the interior finishes. The result is a simple, elegant and timeless design aesthetic, which quiets the building and naturally calms the user, while emphasizing the adjacent exterior tropical green spaces and water features, and long-range views of Coral Gables and Miami. Wayfinding is improved, staff efficiency is increased and the overall patient experience becomes a feature of the design, and not a burden. Small canteens located in both public and patient areas provide access to nutritious snacks and places for respite. The simple palette also allows for art curated by the University to become a major feature of the patient experience, highlighted by the large Ibis sculpture suspended over the front entry.
The interior finishes installed at the UHealth Lennar Foundation Medical Center meet or exceed the criteria for LEED VOC restrictions. As wellness was a key priority for this project, these selected finishes consciously avoid the materials on Perkins + Will’s own precautionary list for reduced toxicants, allergens and asthma triggers. At the exterior, the building envelope utilizes high-performance glass to maximize the amount of natural light in the building while reducing cooling and heating loads. Surface mounted exterior fins or deep precast overhangs permanently shade large portions of the building’s windows reducing heat gain due to solar radiation.
The resiliency of the clinic was a critical part of the design. The criteria for hurricane resistance in South Florida required the building envelope to be compliant with the strictest codes and all exterior materials and structural components met or exceeded the required standards. The building was also designed to be a “shelter in place” destination, specifically to serve the community in case of a major weather event.
Physical ContextAs the first medical building located on the University of Miami campus, the Lennar Center is located at the cross roads of major pedestrian routes on the campus and serves as a front door and access point between the University and Coral Gables itself. It was planned to offer a broad reach of outpatient services to the University campus and community, forming a literal and metaphorical gateway to healthcare for the surrounding community and student population.
The site planning and architectural expression focused on creating a welcoming, intuitive drop off and entry sequence, as well as clear wayfinding within the building. The Clinic is sited directly across the street from a Miami Metrorail station and this connection to public transportation is an important feature for both the Clinic and the University. The general public, students and University staff will frequently occupy the clinic as a place to congregate, eat or simply take a break between classes in ways beyond the primary function of outpatient healthcare.
The building design extends the “Miami Modern” language of the existing University to the campus edge, but incorporates a warmer, more natural material palette at street level. As a further gesture to invite the campus and the community to gather at the Lennar Center, a covered roof deck crowns the building with views across Coral Gables to downtown Miami. The deck is sized to serve as an event space, and shortly after opening, there were requests for wedding receptions to be held there.
Each side of the clinic building responds in kind to the different existing adjacent urban and natural conditions. The main façade facing south toward Ponce De Leon Boulevard features large sweeping architectural gestures in concrete and glass, a significant uninterrupted volume of space with a major art installation above the main entry, and landscape design that reinforces the existing streetscape vegetation. The west side facing the existing canal is more human scaled, with lush indigenous, shading plant life, and simple, built-in site furniture, allowing staff and patients a place to share intimate discussions, meditate, or take a simple break from the day’s routine. The campus façade, facing north, is scaled to patient drop off, but also for cross traffic of students and faculty as well. The north and south façades and entries are connected internally by an amenity concourse with full height glass, allowing for an uninterrupted view of the canal from the interior public space.
The design team worked to ensure that regardless of where one stood in the building, there was a view of nature, and throughout the clinic, the relationship of exterior glass and interior spaces is a design feature. As a result, internal circulation corridors, patient waiting, staff work areas and clinical spaces like Physical Therapy, Patient Recovery and Cancer Treatment all have connections to the exterior landscape. Long Miami skyline views, lush tropical gardens, swaying tree tops, bright blue skies, and even the soothing sound of rain against glass are all part of the interior experience.