The Two Towers

Perkins+Will assembles a diverse team to help design a complex, flexible, yet beautifully cohesive new medical center for Baltimore’s storied Johns Hopkins Hospital.

by Robert Nieminen

Hospitals are by their very nature complex buildings, the designs of which must carefully balance the needs of patients, staff and other stakeholders, all while meeting stringent operational requirements. Existing hospitals face an even greater challenge when it comes to renovations and additions, as medical services must continue without interruption.

So when global multidisciplinary firm Perkins+Will, along with a team of design and engineering consultants, leading artists, and The Johns Hopkins Hospital facilities staff got together to design a new 1.6-million-square-foot complex for the nation’s top-ranked hospital and medical research center, it is no exaggeration to say it was an undertaking of epic proportions.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore includes two 12-story towers for children’s and adult healthcare that rise from an 8-story structural base that composes a unified clinical building, distinguished by its curved shape, articulated forms, bold color, gardens and natural light.

“Overall, the client’s goals were to create a project that maximized functional, programmatic space…but at the same time be a way to create a new image for the hospital, a new front door, and to create two identities,” explains Jean Mah, FAIA, FACHA, LEED AP, planning principal at Perkins+Will. According to Mah, the building was designed to be as flexible and adaptable to the future as possible, while also unifying The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center and the Sheikh Zayed Tower under a single theme.

The complex includes 560 private patient rooms, 33 state-of-the-art operating rooms, and expansive new adult and pediatric emergency departments. Its integrated planning and design supports both the most advanced medical technologies and the latest evidence-based design (EBD) strategies for true patient-oriented care.

While EBD features such as single-patient rooms, views to the outdoors, daylighting and strategically-located hand washing stations were used throughout the project, the design team heavily emphasized lighting and acoustics. “From a reduction of medical errors and improved accuracy, patient safety and staff safety [standpoint], we have very carefully designed the lighting levels—the lighting on surfaces and the patient caregiving sites—in order to improve visibility and accuracy,” says Mah.

Increasingly, quality patient care also includes acoustical sensitivity.

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