AECOM completes new replacement hospital tower with roof garden in Baltimore's downtown
Many urban hospitals are faced with seemingly insurmountable barriers when trying to improve the environment of care. Limited space, constraints of existing infrastructure, and inadequate access to the natural environment were the main challenges facing Mercy Medical Center as planning began on their replacement hospital. The desired outcome was to design a complex healthcare facility within a constricted urban site that contributes to the surrounding community and creates a model of urban sustainability.
Instead of fleeing to the suburbs, as many urban hospitals have, Mercy Medical Center brings the verdant landscape of the country garden to the city and continues a 150-year mission of providing healthcare to Baltimore’s needy. In so doing, the hospital takes green architecture to a new level – the 8th floor, to be precise – by creating a unique, multilevel rooftop oasis in the center of the city. The roof gardens are the centerpiece of the hospital’s healing environment; comprising a third of the building’s footprint, the three-level garden offers unexpected views to nature and places of respite within a bustling urban environment. All visitors have access from the 8th floor to the main lower garden while the 9th floor garden serves as a private upper level retreat for ICU patients’ families with direct access from the ICU waiting room.
The roof-garden itself is a key sustainable design element in that it minimises the building’s heat-island effect, reduces demand on storm water systems, improves surrounding air quality and reduces noise pollution. By establishing a 'ground plane' on the 8th floor level, the garden minimises the perceived height of the building and introduces a more human scale to a large urban structure.