According to Carolyn BaRoss, IIDA, ASID, LEED AP, design principal at Perkins+Will, the client was “very aware of the problem of noise in the healthcare environment and its impact on patients’ ability to rest and heal, on stress levels, as well as on the staff’s ability to hear communication clearly and to be able to focus on their work. So, there were a lot of strategies within the interior environment that we used to help mitigate sound transmission [to] create as quiet an environment as possible.”
For example, the hospital has a quiet nurse call system to replace the disturbance of constant overhead paging. Other approaches to addressing acoustics include sound-absorptive and deflecting ceiling tiles, soffits and wall configurations; fabric-wrapped wall panels; and even custom lighting fixtures, which serve as both acoustical buffers and dimmable lights for a soft glow at night.
The curvilinear colored metal, glass and brick curtain wall designed in collaboration with artist Spencer Finch serves as the new front door to the hospital, and, by extension, the entire 14-acre campus. A landscaped entry plaza, the size of a football field, leads the way into a two-story sky-lit adult tower lobby with a meditation garden, as well as the soaring four-story children’s lobby.
This welcoming environment extends into the interiors and helps reduce the stress levels of patients and visitors as they arrive. A thoughtful wayfinding plan helps to ease anxious guests as they navigate from public spaces to the various departments within the two towers.
“To have a successful wayfinding solution for these projects, it’s important that all of the elements are working together,” says BaRoss. “It’s not just about effective signage, but that the architectural language, the context, people’s orientation, the quality of the interior, the signage and the organization of the space all work in concert to make it very intuitive and easy to navigate.”
The design team made the decision to introduce windows and transparency throughout the interiors so that visitors can always see daylight and landmarks around the campus to give them a sense of orientation. Color adds another layer of wayfinding assistance and reinforces the identity of the two different towers, not only in public spaces but for staff and back-of-house workers.
Color and light are also instrumental in creating an uplifting experience for patients and staff, which is atypical of healthcare environments, where many clients shy away from bold colors, notes BaRoss. “We really took paint colors directly out of the artist’s tube of paint and looked at the pure, full spectrum of color and felt that that was the most satisfying, timeless and joyful kind of color that we could use,” she says. “To Hopkins’ credit, they are not afraid of color—that’s a quote from the client. They love color, and they’re not afraid of using all colors in the healthcare environment where many other clients sort of have trepidation.”