Raising a hat to Canada’s reborn hospital

Nick Myall
Thursday 26 Jul 2018

A new central atrium gives this hospital a new focal point and community gathering space

The expansion and renewal of the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital in Canada has been celebrated. A ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the new Ambulatory Care Building designed by Gibbs Gage Architects and Diamond Schmitt Architects in joint venture.

The 245,000-square-foot (22,793 sm) addition significantly transforms this important community hospital: ambulatory care clinics, labour and delivery suites, NICU and major surgical facilities have all been expanded and consolidated. A central atrium resets the building’s focus and provides a new community gathering space for the entire hospital, connects in-patient spaces from within the existing hospital to the new facilities and renews public areas in a spacious, light-filled environment.

“A human centric approach has informed all aspects of our clinical planning to ensure the safe, efficient delivery of clinical services within a soothing, de-stressed environment.” said Greg Colucci, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects. “The commitment to patient care is expressed architecturally throughout, from the welcoming and sheltered wood-lined entry, comfortable waiting areas, and private, light-filled treatment rooms that offer views of the vast prairie sky.”

Patient services across four floors feature registration, maternal and renal clinics on the ground floor and day medicine, ambulatory care and cancer clinics on the second. Dedicated corridors for patient transfer from the existing hospital wing line the atrium on the upper floors to maternal labour and delivery and ambulatory surgery on the third floor and surgical pre-operative and operating suites on the fourth floor. On the rooftop, a helipad facilitates patient transfer to Emergency services. 

The large public areas are colour neutral to provide a calm, light-filled waiting space and to accentuate clinical areas by their distinct colour tones, which are visible from the atrium. Bright orange, yellow and green define these areas, adding a distinct wayfinding element to the interior design. Among other design innovations are naturally lit procedure rooms with fritted glass windows and a staff rest area on the perimeter of the fourth-floor surgical suites.

The building’s exterior is articulated by distinct forms in different materials that break down the massing and integrate both with the existing hospital wing as well as the surrounding low-rise suburban buildings. “The addition reads as a composition of elements and openings which don’t necessarily relate to clinical program areas within. Rather, they are shaped and arranged to reduce the scale of this large addition to the scale of buildings in the vicinity,” said Colucci.

The glazing on the new east entrance has a dynamic frit pattern that references cloud patterns of the broad prairie sky. The adjacent forms in masonry, recalling Medicine Hat’s proud history of clay pottery and brick production, add visual interest that is further enhanced by a syncopation of asymmetrically placed windows. The mechanical penthouse is similarly varied in form and cladding to integrate this component seamlessly within the building’s appearance.

Renovations are proceeding within the existing inpatient tower on a phased schedule that will see the emergency department expand to approximately 22,000 square feet (2,024 sq m), and will include an expanded diagnostic imagining services. 

This expansion and renewal successfully addresses deficiencies in healthcare capacity in the growing southern Alberta catchment, updates infrastructure and elevates infection control standards at the hospital. The building targets LEED certification and is planned for service capacity increases and flexibility over the next 20-25 years.


Nick Myall

News editor

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