When we started the design of the West Wing Addition at University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, we knew we were facing several challenges. Besides the usual concerns of phasing, limited site access, and significant street closures, we had a campus that did not have a unified, consistent aesthetic.
Over the years, there had been a number of additions, which took on a life of their own. It didn’t seem possible to unify all the different visuals, so we began our visioning process with one main goal: What does the future look like?
The most recent hospital addition was completed in 2013 and was the newest aesthetic. While it was clearly the favorite amongst hospital leadership, it was on the eastern edge of the hospital and couldn’t been seen from the western edge, which was defined by buildings and additions designed during the 1950’s – 1980’s.
Bearing all that in mind, we began our visioning process by reviewing the many different looks of University Hospital with their leadership, discussing each one and listening to their opinions. We then generated over 20 exterior design options. Each one referenced one of the many aesthetics already on the campus. Some tipped their hat to the 1950’s architecture, while others leaned toward the 2000’s designs. Additionally, we included options that were different from any existing on-campus aesthetic – something to call attention to the Emergency Department.
During the visioning process, we learned several things:
Leadership wanted a shared aesthetic to visually unify the hospital. Additionally, they realized this project was the first step in that process.
They liked the thought of “bookending” the hospital with the newest aesthetic – white mullions, simple brick, etc.
Hospital leaders developed a vision of how to remodel their existing main entrance using this unified aesthetic. That future project now visually connects both ends.
They also liked the idea of calling attention to the Emergency Entrance. This was accomplished with an illuminated red corner element.
We then took what we learned and leveraged it into the design. The West Wing Addition uses the same building materials and colors as the Patient Care Tower, completing the bookend look. A new canopy was designed with similar materials, but with an easily repeatable module that can be used at the future main entrance – tying the campus together. Lastly, we used an accent red corner element to draw attention to the emergency department entrance. This element is also internally illuminated for increased nighttime visibility.
In sum, throughout the process, we offered ideas and listened. Then, we refined the ideas and listened some more. The final product is the result of several months of hard work by everyone involved and has become the start of a visually cohesive hospital.