Stephen Yablon completes new clinic in New York's Harlem district
Located in a landmarked McKim, Mead and White historic public health centre, this 7,000-sq-ft clinic exudes tranquility and lessens the fear and public stigma associated with seeking testing, treatment and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, to help encourage the community to use the facility, privacy is assured by the implementation of a self-directed patient flow model whereby patients are helped and directed anonymously by number rather than calling out names. The Clinic is composed of a waiting / education space, evaluation and counseling offices, and clinical spaces including exam rooms and labs.
The existing floor plate of the building provided a unique design challenge: The plan is broken up by the building's lobby and cores with only a narrow connector behind. This connector is transformed into a tranquil, light-filled central waiting / education area linking both sides of the clinic. Its large luminous wall, which obscures views to a service ally, serves as an iconic orientation device, essential for patients finding their own way. Street views are obscured by the translucent resin screen that incorporates Ithemba, a beaded mesh made by African women who have been affected by HIV and AIDS and honours the neighbourhood's rich African American history and growing West African immigrant community.
The interlocking L-shaped section concept, recognisable and consistent throughout the public circulation areas, heightens the sense of getting the best in medical care in a calm welcoming environment. To evoke the reassuring feeling of being in state-of-the-art facilities, the walls of the outer 'L' are finished in epoxy and its ceiling is made of curved aluminum ceiling panels. The complementing 'L' creates a sense of warmth by featuring porcelain tiles and bamboo. This entire circulation area is indirectly lit, creating a soothing space. Diffused lighting is also used in the building's main lobby, offering relief from a low ceiling by evoking a skylight effect.
The project is designed to LEED Silver standards. Sustainable materials include porcelain tile with recycled metal content, bamboo veneers, resin panels, linoleum floors and ceiling tiles with high recycled content. Low VOC coatings and adhesives are used throughout, and low flow plumbing fixtures, highly efficient lighting and HVAC systems reduce energy consumption.