RTKL transform military hospital and create a dialogue between old and new
A 750,000 sq ft addition to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) will almost double the size of the existing hospital, thus creating the San Antonio Military Medical Center.
The design challenge is to add a structure nearly two-thirds the size of the existing hospital within a military post, Fort Sam Houston, without it feeling 'military'. Many constituents wanted to replicate the existing architecture, completed in 1995, that consisted of punched windows in deep and heavy brick façades enveloping the entire hospital irrespective of the façade's orientation.
The design team proposed to complement rather than mimic the existing architecture, to evolve from a military 'fortress' toward an architecture of transparency and lightness, as well as one responsive to solar orientations. New and old are now in dialogue - compatible yet distinguishable - each a window into its own time and its own cultural, technical and architectural values.
With the Burn Unit as one of the major components of the hospital, the concept of skin grafting inspired the design of the envelope for the new addition. Existing bricks were metaphorically extrapolated and grafted onto the addition in the form of terracotta sunscreens. The result is a deliberately 'lighter' building crafted with glass and terracotta which dialogues with the existing building without replicating it.