World Architecture News | Outside Help

Outside Help

May 2010 Download PDF

Francis Caufman’s Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute maximises exterior interaction to create a conducive healing environment

Major American hospitals have often grown exponentially over the years, becoming increasingly complex and specialised. The challenge for healthcare providers is to make the public aware of new specialised patient services while integrating these services into the hospital as a whole, all the time creating a positive healing environment for the patient.

Completed in November 2008, Atlantic Health’s new Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute on the Morristown Memorial Hospital’s campus addresses these challenges. This new 206,000 sq ft facility, with two levels of patient treatment spaces below three levels of patient rooms, is a major addition to an existing 911,000 sq ft complex that cascades down a 5-storey hillside.

Brick and limestone exterior materials on the upper patient floors strongly anchor this new construction to the existing masonry architecture of the hospital. The topography falls away below this addition, revealing a new glass and metal panel design language on the lower clinical levels that establishes Gagnon’s distinctive identity. Room-wide patient room windows lighten the brick volume above as it hovers over the spaces below, creating a gracious covered entry portico.

Major public circulation hugs the perimeter of Gagnon, providing ample exterior views that aid in patient and visitor orientation. Central waiting areas just inboard of the circulation are suffused with daylight filtered through the slender 2-storey perimeter circulation zone. Shadows play across interior surfaces throughout the day; at night the lower floors become a building-sized lantern.

This emphasis on patient access to daylight and exterior views continues with the patient rooms on the upper floors. Full width windows give views of the lush exterior landscape, rooftop gardens and expansive sky. All patients have direct access on each floor to a 3-storey atrium lounge with balconies at the south end of the building; a quiet spot of sunny warmth on a winter day.

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