Vital connection

Tuesday 03 May 2011

Cannon Design completes new building for Northwest Community Hospital

Northwest Community Hospital has been a vital institution in the Arlington Heights community for nearly 60 years, and the design of the inpatient tower embodies a renewed commitment to the hospital's 'Triad of Care:  Patient, Family and Caregiver.' The patient care addition maintains a relatively small footprint and provides a new, slender vertical element as the upper floors 'peel away' from the existing geometries of the international style campus, energetically redefining the campus's relationship to the community. Abundant natural light, air quality, thermal comfort, noise control and privacy were prioritised to contribute to the healing environment for patients. Respite areas - indoor and outdoor - are provided for patients, their families and staff. Elements of nature connect inside and out and include landscaped gardens, green roofs, as well as interior finishes that use colors and patterns found in nature.

The project maintains strong connections to the outdoors, from colour and materials to the accessibility and visibility of balconies on all patient floors. As a semi-urban campus in a suburb of Chicago, the luxury of opening a door and stepping outside on the upper floors of a patient floor for a brief respite or for a session of outdoor physical therapy, offers a profound connection to place and community.

Planning for the new patient care addition focused on operational and functional needs for high acuity care. The tower's triangular form shortens travel distances for staff, resulting in a nurse / patient ratio of one to four. The design also acknowledges the growing need to access infrastructure as the decentralisation of technology continues to expand. The project is a kind of 'living laboratory', offering the opportunity to study travel distances and their affects on outcomes among identical programs in the old and new buildings on campus. Daylighting strategies and thoughtful planning also allow natural light to penetrate as deeply into the floors as possible.

The project development footprint, which includes the new bed tower, new emergency department expansion and visitor parking garage, preserves 3.37 acres of open green space on the campus. A sustainable landscaping plan, which includes rain gardens and bioswales, manages stormwater while enhancing the natural beauty of the campus. Native plant species are used to reduce the need for irrigation. The impact of 'heat island effect' - the result of structures absorbing and retaining heat, reaching temperatures higher than the surroundings - is minimised by using light coloured roofing and extensive green roofs.

The project is registered with the USGBC and is pursuing Silver certification under LEED for New Construction version 2.2.  

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