Heart of Texas: Hospitality, Flexibility for Louis & Peaches Owen Heart Hospital

With speed-to-market as a priority for the Louis & Peaches Owen Heart Hospital, construction was completed in near record time — just 18 months from project kick off to opening day. Yet the real story of the new facility on the campus of Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, Texas began years before with two different plotlines that converged to create a tale as remarkable as the new facility. 

Trinity Mother Frances has been a pioneer in cardiac care in the region for many years, bringing the region its first robotic surgery, first minimally invasive valve procedure and first group of electrophysiologists, among other cardiac services. The next step for the hospital was a freestanding independent heart hospital providing a continuum of care

for cardiac patients. TMF leadership initiated planning for the envisioned facility over five years ago, carefully studying the most successful heart hospitals with the best outcomes. Benchmarking visits were made to top programs around the country, including the Cleveland Clinic, Indiana Heart and Baylor Heart to evaluate what would best support the hospital’s goals.

As the key considerations for the facility became clear, architects began to plan and design TMF’s desire for a world-class facility that would combine the latest technology and equipment with a welcoming, timeless design in order to deliver the highest quality of cardiac care. The vision began to take form in plans and drawings, but it was the generous gift of the Louis and Peaches Owen Family Foundation that made the construction of the new hospital possible.

Back in 2001, Peaches Owen failed a stress test at her doctor’s office and was sent to Trinity Mother Frances for surgery — a quadruple bypass. In her words, “I was very, very fortunate … the care and the skill of the hospital were incredible and within two weeks I was up and going again…” The Owen family never forgot that care and, when they found themselves unexpectedly able to fund a substantial legacy gift, they remembered the vital cardiac care and dedication of the team at Trinity Mother Francis and provided a gift of $18 million to transform the plans and dreams into reality.

The six-story, 154,000-square-foot Louis & Peaches Owen Heart Hospital opened in December 2012 with 72 new private patient rooms, a cardiac intensive care unit, cardiac surgical suites and comprehensive cardiac, thoracic, vascular and pulmonary services — as well as state-of-the-art equipment, integrated electronic health records and a comprehensive cardiac team and staff.


Cohesively connected

The building was planned and designed to “plug into” the existing fabric of the campus and connect to the main hospital at several locations. At the same time, it creates a clear identity for the heart hospital — a new face for the campus that is more open and with greater visibility.

Drawing on the architectural vocabulary of the existing campus, the design incorporates the masonry and squared punched windows of the other buildings in juxtaposition to its curved glass façade and bold metal canopy at the entrance. The rectilinear forms of the building are softened by the use of natural materials — from the wrap of regional Texas limestone at the base of the building to the water features and bamboo garden visible from the lobby and the cardiac rehab facility.

Inside the double-height lobby is quietly elegant with warm, wood paneled and limestone walls, soft, indirect lighting and comfortable, contemporary seating. Bright organic art forms highlight the room — artwork designed to look like healthy blood platelets float overhead.

Just off the lobby a highly visible cardiac rehabilitation center features state-of-the-art equipment and energizing red walls. Designed for outpatient and inpatient needs, the cardiac rehabilitation center has views of a landscaped courtyard that allows natural light to cascade into the workout space. A small juice bar brings staff and patients together, providing an area to build camaraderie. The warm color palette continues through this space and into the rest of the facility.


Grounded in faith

As a Catholic hospital, faith and spirituality are at the foundation of care and is of the utmost importance to Trinity Mother Frances. When conceptualizing the LPOHH, WHR placed the chapel in an important location, sitting at the heart of the first floor. The chapel rests in between the outpatient and inpatient programs, visible from the front of the LPOHH — accessible to all patients, visitors, staff and community members.

Wrapped in stained glass panels, the oval form of the chapel brings balance to the linear architecture and creates a spiritual center for the hospital. A ring of light shines down the white oval form, reminiscent of God’s love. The glass artwork depicts “Christ the Healer,” designed to bring people together to reflect on healing. The red ribbons woven throughout represent the Holy Trinity. People of all walks of life, drawn to a place of healing, are represented.

Just outside the chapel is a meditative, healing garden. This spiritual courtyard is designed as an extension of the chapel, providing a haven outdoors.


Bringing outdoors inside

Arriving via elevator, patients are welcomed by the same regional stone used throughout the building, aiding wayfinding. Public spaces on the upper floors are designed to encourage social support with comfortably furnished areas where families can gather for rest or research medical conditions. The art program takes its cue from the views to the trees and gardens outside.

Patients receive care in private patient rooms. The design team incorporated a modified universal bed model, allowing all aspects of pre- and post-operative cardiac care to be delivered in one room, including all nursing and technology resources necessary for the highest level of care. As patients progress through the healing process, the resources of the patient’s room flex to meet the needs of the patient, rather than asking the patient to move through different units of the hospital.

Every two rooms share a decentralized nursing station, bringing the caregivers closer to the patient and providing a higher level of observation.

The new facility belongs to the community in many ways, from the long history of Trinity Mother Frances in bringing state-of the-art cardiac care to the region, to the open-hearted generosity of the Owen family whose gift will be helping to heal hearts in east Texas for years to come.

“This facility is something that Tyler and all of east Texas can be very proud of,” said John McGreevy, CEO of the Louis & Peaches Owen Heart Hospital.

Author: Tushar Gupta, AIA, is a principal at WHR Architects and was the project design leader for the Louis & Peaches Owen Heart Hospital. Roseann Pisklak, IIDA, AAHID, LEED AP, is an associate at WHR Architects and led the interior design for the project. 

Photos by Aker Imaging


Project Team: Louis & Peaches Owen Heart Hospital

Architect, Interior Design: WHR Architects
Civil Engineer: Ballard & Braughton Engineering
Structural Engineer: Walter P Moore
MEP Engineer: Smith Seckman Reid
Landscape Architect:Garthoff Design
General Contractor: Austin Commercial


Design drivers

Several key concepts provided by Trinity Mother Frances helped shape the architecture and interiors of the building:
> World class — Seamless and sophisticated in its visual impression, the environment reflects a commensurate high level of service. The design implies a state-of-the-art facility that is organized and efficient, where everything has its place.
> Hospitality focused — The spaces are convenient, with access to amenities and landmark wayfinding. The interiors feature rich finishes, comfortable oversized furniture, appropriate quality lighting and distinctive artwork.
> Unique — The building has its own identity inside and out.
> Trinity Mother Francis Hospital brand — Although the building has its own identity, it relates architecturally to the larger campus and visitors know they are in a TMFH facility. It is cohesively connected to the context.
> Timeless — Natural finishes such as wood, glass, metal and stone carry the theme from the outside and bring it indoors. The space is flexible and adaptable to potential new uses. Design decisions also help ensure the facility is easy to maintain and the finishes are durable.
> Wow-factor — Every space, down to the toilet rooms, has been thoughtfully designed. Patients, families and caregivers all enjoy a memorable, uplifting experience.

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Posted May 5, 2013

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