Doctor's Orders — A Day at the Spa

HMC Architects creates a new model for healthcare with the L.A. Center for Women’s Health, a state-of-the-art medical facility that emulates a spa while catering to the needs of working women.

by Robert Nieminen

Just inside the facility’s entrance, the reception area boasts a range of hospitality-inspired seating options, from lounge chairs to sofas for patients who would like the support of a loved one next to them, as well as a conference table where professionals can plug in their laptops. The space is designed to meet the relaxation, social and work needs of patients, and the result is a spectacular composition of colors, textures and furnishings that inspire the human spirit. 

The design team also worked closely with the client and a team of nationally recognized women’s health specialists to optimize the programming of the space to include women’s cardiology, breast imaging, urogynecology, gynecologic oncology, and gynecology/menopausal medicine. The space is designed for flexibility in the future to “go beyond healthcare,” and includes the amenities of a homeopathic wellness center (at the suggestion of HMC).

“With this particular build out, there was additional space on the floor, and when we were done, [the client] decided to go ahead and build out an area for massage, and an area for yoga and education,” explains Maynard. “So it was kind of neat because we weren’t just designing the colors and the finishes and the room layouts—we were helping them craft what kinds of services they were going to offer the client. It was something, as a designer, that should be part of what we do. We need to think about not just the three-dimensional environment, but also how the building relates to the client’s needs.”

The architect designed the interior environment not only to alleviate stress, but also to align with the quality and caliber of care provided by the center. This state-of-the-art facility enhances the health and well-being of women by offering treatment and management of health conditions, screenings, risk assessments, wellness and health education. The L.A. Women’s Center also makes use of some thoughtful space planning to create a seamless, high-end experience.

“We used what we called ‘The Disney Effect,’” notes Maynard. “The Disney Effect is where you have one entry for clients and another entry for what they call ‘cast members.’ In this particular environment, we have one side that the patients enter and the other side that the technical [staff] and physician enters.”

The circulation plan allows patients to move through the space from one appointment to the next with ease. Crossing paths with the behind-the-scenes elements of healthcare—blood work carts, mobile nursing stations, etc.—is not an option.

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