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Mercy Health – West Hospital Combines Beauty, Functionality to Enhance Healing

CINCINNATI, Ohio –The new Mercy Health – West Hospital, a 250-bed, 625,000-square-foot facility, opened to offer expanded medical services to Cincinnati, Ohio’s west side at its location along the I-74 corridor.  

Designed by AECOM and Mic Johnson, FAIA, in association with Champlin Architecture, the West Hospital takes a new approach to healthcare architecture, balancing beauty, culture and function to set a new standard for hospital design. Connections between architecture, natural light and landscape promote healing and root the building in its place, while the hospital’s functional planning is grounded in evidence and focused on maximizing safety, efficiency, energy conservation and flexibility for the future.

Located on a 60-acre, wooded site, the hospital’s large diagnostic and treatment base is designed to co-locate surgery, imaging, the emergency department and cardiovascular ICU on one level for greater efficiency between care teams. Two bed towers sit on this interventional platform, which features a living roof covered with native plants – providing an ever-changing view from the patient rooms above. At 2.5 acres, this is the largest green roof in Ohio, and is punctuated with skylights and light wells that bring natural light to staff work areas within the base. Accessible gardens are located adjacent to the front door and at the dining terrace on the lower level. In addition, a rehab terrace for physical therapy is located on the third floor, overlooking the green roof.

The design gives the new hospital a unique presence in its community. Inspired by Ohio’s tradition of art pottery production, the building features a one-of-a-kind exterior wall system – comprising 11 different colors and 19 shapes of glazed brick tiles. The blue-to-green color palette of the building skin pays homage to traditional ceramics glazes, as well as the landform and color of the valleys and hills of the region, merging architecture and landscape throughout the seasons.

Transparency between interior and exterior provides continuity through the hospital to support the patient and family experience. Ease of wayfinding from the front door to reception and waiting areas, as well as public amenity spaces, reinforces the healing process through the presence of natural light and landscape.

“Mercy Health – West Hospital was designed with many features that have been proven to enhance the patient’s experience during a hospital visit. Studies show that even brief exposure to nature and natural light improves patients’ moods and shortens lengths of stay,” said Yousuf Ahmad, president & CEO, Mercy Health.  “This building is an important reflection of our commitment to bring world-class care to the communities on Cincinnati’s west side.”

All patient rooms are private, and a combination of centralized and decentralized nursing helps keep nurses closer to patients. Family centered care rooms allow patients’ loved ones to play an active role in the healing process and sound-proofing treatments reduce noise and offer a calmer environment. Expansive windows with low sills within patient rooms and family lounges further promote healing via views to nature and access to natural light.

Many steps were taken to make the new hospital functionally efficient. The building’s fundamental infrastructure planning is flexible to accommodate future changes in medical practice. Fully equipped, physical mockups were developed to test each major technical room for functionality, safety and aesthetics, and detailed planning decisions were based on best practices to limit customization for specific building users.

Functional and aesthetic considerations are seamlessly merged in the new West Hospital, creating a healing environment that is unique to the southern Ohio region. With a design focused on the patient and family experience, the building allows physicians and staff the opportunity to provide the best comprehensive care in an environment that celebrates community, human dignity and health.

Project Team
Design Architect: AECOM with Mic Johnson, FAIA, lead designer
Architect of Record: Champlin Architecture
Interior Design: AECOM
Landscape Architect: Close Landscape Architecture with Meisner + Associates/Land Vision
MEP Engineer: Heapy Engineering
Structural Engineer: THP LTD
Civil Engineer: Thomas Graham Associates
Graphics and Wayfinding: Kolar Design
Construction Manager: Turner Construction Company

Image courtesy of Dave Burk © Hedrich Blessing.

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Posted December 11, 2013

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