Stanley Beaman & Sears creates contemporary gateway for Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute
The Blanchard Hall Outpatient Center was conceived not only to accommodate clinics, a rehabilitation gymnasium, and fabrication workshops for orthotics and prosthetics, but also to function as a new gateway to the institute, which was founded in 1927. Existing campus buildings, reflecting the classical revival aesthetic of their time, are of red brick with white-colonnaded porticos and connecting arcades.
Blanchard Hall’s design breaks dramatically with that style, while reinterpreting elements of its vocabulary in contemporary terms and materials. Traditional exterior surfaces – stucco and brick in a similar color to that of the existing buildings – transition into facades of glass and steel. A two-storey entry lobby refers to the similarly-scaled 'great halls' of older campus buildings. Portico and colonnade are present, but reimagined in industrial-modern materials; these evoke the technology of today’s prosthetics and orthotics, with piston-like steel rods and tensile fabric mesh canopies, which mimic the movable parts and stretchy carbon-fiber-and-fiberglass material typically used in fabricating prosthetics.
A difficult site required the structure to be set into a steep slope, and to refrain from damaging a creek which separates it from its parking area. The building’s generous roof overhang combines with the hillside to create a sense of protection while focusing attention on its glass walls which convey an open welcome. The challenge of the creek was solved with a wheelchair accessible bridge that not only provides access but offers views into the two-story therapy gym. From inside, the glass walls maximise views of natural environment and allow abundant natural light. With its prominent site on the campus’ main drive and its exuberant design, Blanchard Hall reflects the progressive approach to care in rehabilitation medicine practiced at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute.