Design showcase: Building a 'hospital without beds'

Five minutes with St. Elizabeth Healthcare Medical Office Building architect Julian Thompson

Julian Thompson is an architect at Array Architects and one of the lead architects that designed the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Medical Office Building & Urgent Care Center in Covington, Ky., as part of its 'Gateway for Health' project. It is featured in our June Design Showcase.

The Daily Briefing's Paige Baschuk recently caught up with Thompson to discuss the medical office building project.

Paige Baschuk: When you first sat down with St. Elizabeth Healthcare, what were they looking for in this building?

Julian Thompson: After two hospitals in the Cincinnati-area merged, St. Elizabeth saw an opportunity to meet patients' needs in the Covington area with this "Gateway to Health" full-service medical office building on a major interstate to Cincinnati. With one nearby hospital closing, this building needed to practically replace it. So this three-story, 120,000-square-foot building is what we've been calling a "hospital without beds."

Some of the services the building contains includes imaging, women's services, a physical therapy department, a dialysis center, conferencing areas, and an urgent care center. The building has all the amenities and service lines of most acute-care facilities, but patients are not admitted. When a patient does come in with emergency needs, they are treated in the ambulatory care center and transferred to another facility.

PB: There are so many new medical office buildings popping up, how does the 'Gateway for Health' set itself apart?

JT: There are so many medical buildings where you walk in and get lost after five minutes, so we wanted to design a building where you could always find your way. We created a spine, like a main street, that is connected via a corridor system that ends in the ambulatory center. The spine is connected to the main lobby that has a large atrium facing the parking lot, so you can walk down that main spine  and practically see where you parked your car. The atrium brings in a lot of natural light that permeates the corridors.

The lobby also does not feel like a lot of other medical office buildings. There is a large staircase in the lobby that connects to the second floor, as well as a reception and registration desk, a community conference space, a bistro, gift shop, and patient education center.

This building also stands out because of its progressive design. We employed a lot of LEED aspects like using sunlight and windows for natural lighting and heating, a green roof, and other energy efficient aspects.

The developer called the building "one for the books."


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