Thursday 12 Jan 2012


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From its public entrances to its intensive care unit, the architecture firm Francis Cauffman completely transformed St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center (SJHS) to provide state-of-the-art care, improve circulation for visitors and enhance the patient experience for an underserved community in urban Paterson, New Jersey.

The dramatic lobby, completed in October 2011, links the medical center and the Children's Hospital, facilitating wayfinding between what were previously disjointed buildings on campus. This new connection allows visitors to converge at one entry and be guided to their destinations without confusion or delay.

The two-story-high atrium lobby acts as a "gateway" to the hospital, with an emphasis on positive distractions that calms anxious visitors and patients. The design incorporates curved, two-toned wood-paneled walls that offer a warm welcome. The curvature of the walls also help to separate different areas and highlight places of destination within the lobby, which include waiting areas, a multipurpose room for community outreach, and a gift and coffee shop.

In the children's lobby, a backlit LED wall splashes vibrant colors across its face, alternating playful tones that interest children. A globe of blue and green cubes hangs from the ceiling, acting as a symbol to recognize the global connection in advancing medicine and to represent the diversity of the community. The size of the structures grounds the tall ceilings and intimate seating arrangements are positioned around the room.

Light streaming from clerestory windows reflects off the globe's cubes and moves through the room during the day. At night, the atmosphere changes as LED lights throughout the lobby continue to reflect off the cubes and the interactive wall takes on a life of its own. The designers used LED lights throughout the hospital to minimize energy consumption, making the facility more environmentally friendly.

The transformed entrance sets the tone for the care and attentiveness to patients that SJHS offers to its community, and gives patients and visitors an unprecedented level of comfort.