A Dose of Hospital(ity)

The interior design of The Methodist Hospital Outpatient Center in Houston reinforces the patient experience with an environment that evokes hospitality rather than institutional design, all while setting new standards in health care delivery.

by Robert Nieminen

As the trend toward patient-centered design takes hold in more and more hospital settings, the line between health care and hospitality design is becoming increasingly blurry. And as research from evidence-based design projects confirms, patients recover more quickly and medical staff experience higher levels of job satisfaction in environments that are comfortable and welcoming, and that break the traditional institutional models of health care design.

It makes sense, then, that the staff at The Methodist Hospital (TMH) in Houston, Texas looked to the design firms WHR Architects to help them achieve their goal of delivering the highest levels of personalized care and service available anywhere. With 760,000 square feet dedicated to patient care, TMH's architecture and interiors incorporate multiple elements of healing design in keeping with the hospital's philosophy and its vision for The Methodist Hospital Outpatient Center.

“We have had the good fortune to work with the dedicated team at TMH to help them realize their goal of providing progressive, personalized, quality care that sets a new standard in healthcare delivery,” says WHR President and Chairman David Watkins, FAIA. “Our medical planners, architects, interior designers and Genesis’ medical technology planners were part of the process from the early benchmarking studies of the other outpatient centers to post-occupancy studies.

“Operationally, the outpatient center breaks new ground on several fronts,” notes Anthony Haas, AIA, FACHA WHR principal and medical planner. “More than a consolidation, the new facility represents an evolution in personalized patient service and convenience with state-of-the-art technology and treatment.”

“The design addresses not only TMH’s aesthetic vision but also meets the maintenance and durability demands of the hospital,” comments project designer, Lori Foux, IIDA, LEED® AP.  “Textures, materials, color and light all enhance both experience and the function of the space.”

The mostly glass building offers scenic views of adjacent Rice University and allows an abundance of light to penetrate the space. Views to the outside aid patient navigation and wayfinding, as well as provide natural light to the healing environment.

From the elegant lobby and reception, and throughout the multiple treatment floors, the interior design reinforces TMH's patient experience message with an environment that evokes hospitality rather than a hospital setting. Refined and comfortable furnishings, and understated, quality materials and lighting are deployed to define waiting areas and assist patients and their families in navigating across the large floor plates. The design addresses not only TMH's aesthetic vision but also meets the maintenance and durability demands of the hospital.