HDR Architecture, Inc. has been selected to design the innovative, mixed-use Focal Point community campus, which will deliver a combination of retail, wellness, education, arts and recreation elements to the southwest side of Chicago, Ill. The nearly 1-million-square-foot complex will be located on an 11-acre lot.
The first-of-its-kind financially self-sustaining campus project is the brainchild of Chicago Southwest Development Corporation. “It is a model that has never been done before and has the potential to transform disadvantaged communities all across our country,” said Guy A. Medaglia, president and CEO of Chicago Southwest Development Corporation and Saint Anthony Hospital, which will relocate to serve as a tenant of the campus.
Through the campus model, rental income from revenue-generating tenants—such as retail stores and schools, hospitality and day care, a parking garage, Saint Anthony Hospital and outpatient clinic—will be reinvested into programs and services provided through the campus, such as continuing education and wellness classes, a center for creativity and a park and recreation center. Beyond being designed to provide the balance necessary to keep the model financially sound, each aspect of the campus was influenced by research by Saint Anthony Hospital into the needs of the community – including a formal study conducted by HDR Architecture in conjunction with two academic partners.
“This is an incredibly meaningful project, one that most architecture firms get few opportunities to design,” commented Abbie Clary, AIA, ACHA, HDR project principal. “Chicago Southwest Development Corporation has tasked us to design an iconic building that fits appropriately within this highly prominent industrial corridor. Above all, though, Guy believes that this community deserves great architecture. We have fallen in love with the people here and are honored to design a campus that respects their needs and honors and engages the community.”
Though the design remains a work in progress, Clary says that the forms and materials chosen will reinforce the project’s iconography. It will also be one of the first projects where Evidence-Based Design is brought to the community scale, for example, fully integrating a healthcare institution into the community context.
The research study conducted by HDR Architecture, the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health` and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture that helped inform many of the elements to be included in the campus was published in a white paper in April 2012. The paper details the study and identifies what HDR calls a “community-centric hospital” as an emerging model of healthcare and affirms that the Focal Point campus represents new social, economic, education and wellness opportunities that can significantly improve the health and quality of life of local residents.
“The research project identified the physical and socio-economic barriers that prevent members of a community from seeking opportunities to health and wellness,” explained Sheila Elijah-Barnwell, Ph.D., AIA, EDAC, director of healthcare consulting, research and university education for HDR Architecture and principal investigator for the research project. “It will be our challenge to design a campus that removes all those barriers, where transparency and accessibility is abundant, where members of the community of all ages, from youth to senior citizens, are welcomed and empowered to improve their lives.”
For example, residents of communities surrounding the campus will be served by retail tenants providing important access to healthy food choices and to staples such as clothing and household goods; wellness programs that will educate on topics such as healthy food preparation, parenting skills and more; basketball courts and a half Olympic-size pool that will provide a sanctuary for at-risk youth; and Saint Anthony Hospital, which—as another tenant of the campus—will continue to provide emergency and medical care that turns no one away, regardless of ability to pay.