Healthcare First

Oct. 1, 2004
Janet Wiens

The new Boulder Community Hospital's Foothills Campus, a joint collaboration between Boulder Associates and Oz Architecture, provides a tangible expression of its mission and philosophy—and a LEED silver rating to its credit.

PROJECTHealthcare First The new Boulder Community Hospital's Foothills Campus, Boulder, CO, boasts sensitive architecture and outstanding views to the nearby Rocky Mountains. If that isn't enough, the facility is the first hospital to receive LEED™ certification as developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The hospital was awarded a silver rating.Boulder Associates provided architecture and interior design services in association with Oz Architecture. The team has formidable environmental design credentials, which was a key in their selection for the project."The hospital stated up front that they wanted the building to be an extension of who they are," says Kristi Ennis, AIA, LEED AP, Boulder Associates, sustainable design director and project architect for the hospital's medical architecture. "The hospital is a member of Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E), and has had an environmental impact program for years. It recycles extensively and is very environmentally responsible."The city of Boulder was in the process of designing its own LEED building when things at the hospital were gearing up, and LEED version 2.0 came out nine months before the hospital's design commenced. The two situations worked in tandem, coupled with input from the design team, and administrators committed to following the LEED course during design development.The hospital had maximized space on its existing campus, and decided to move select services to the Foothills location. While the campus will eventually encompass 400,000 square feet, this initial project includes a 154,000-square-foot hospital and a 67,000-square-foot outpatient services building. The 49-acre site, located within a creek floodplain, is surrounded by the city; 32 acres were maintained as open space. A prairie dog colony on the site was maintained on site during construction, and has become a pleasure to watch for hospital patients, their families and staff.The architecture is very Colorado and has a resort-like quality, and was designed to be very non-institutional and to stand on its merits. The exterior blends two shades of Colorado brick, sandstone columns and shade structures to create a striking presence. Some of the same materials are used on the inside as a connection between the exterior and the interior architecture.Ennis notes that wayfinding is often one of the biggest problems in a hospital when it expands, and the team planned for future expansion with its design. The two buildings wrap around a west-facing courtyard on three sides; this created a primary circulation corridor that all departments empty into. The corridor will be expanded in the future to meet changing circulation requirements as the hospital itself expands.The lobby serves both buildings, and is transparent to provide views between the two buildings to the foothills beyond. A glass wall affords visual access to the courtyard. The porcelain floor in the lobby's center changes to carpet as one moves into either of the two buildings. Panolam, formaldehyde-free MDF board laminated in maple and cherry, was used in other areas of the hospital to match the real wood of the information desk.The dining room is adjacent to the conference center on the first floor. The design team again looked to the future when designing this space. The dining area will expand into the conference space in the future as space requirements increase based on an overall expansion of the hospital, and the conference center will be relocated. The kitchen is not open around the clock, but the dining area is open 24/7. An outdoor dining area, complete with gas heaters, is adjacent to the dining area in the courtyard provides a welcome outdoor dining option on good weather days.There are 60 beds in the facility including 10 labor/delivery rooms, 16 mother/baby rooms, 16 medical/surgical, eight pediatric and four intensive care unit (ICU). It is the facility's six neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) suites, though, that are especially impressive. "The typical arrangement is to have a NICU nursery with mom in another room," says Ennis. "The mother is then discharged after a day or two, while the infant may remain for several weeks or even months. The hospital wanted a more sensitive approach for the baby and their family."The NICU suites have a baby room/nursery that connects directly to the parents' room. Even after the mother is discharged the family stays in the adjacent parent room until the baby is also discharged, with no additional cost to the family for this arrangement. The parents' room has a queen-size bed, refrigerator and is wired for Internet access. The hospital has a grant from Newborn Hope to study the impact of the NICU approach on babies and their families. Camp Hensanove, the Cheyenne term for community, was selected for the pediatric unit. Rooms in this area are designed like cabins with "dirt" floors and mailboxes outside the door. Built-in cabinets with louvered shutters and painted window boxes outside of all patient rooms hide medical supplies. The light fixture in the ceiling resembles the sun by day and transitions to a moon with fiberoptic twinkle stars at night to further accentuate the camp theme.All carpet—three solids and four patterns were developed and used throughout the facility—averages 42 percent recycled content. All have low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and carry the Green Label from the Carpet and Rug Institute.Artwork is another important part of the facility. Quilts made by the hospital staff adorn the walls in each pediatric and NICU room. Origami cranes made by local school children hang in selected areas. Art glass in the corridors was incorporated into the architecture and creates an impressive feel. Even the built-in niches for displaying artwork have tiled backgrounds, which allows them to serve as art until permanent pieces can be purchased.A recent study done by researchers at The University of Pittsburgh showed that patients with access to good daylighting exhibited a 20 percent decrease in the pain medication they required. Thus, patients in this facility are in good hands. Daylighting throughout the hospital is maximized and combined with a variety of light sources, including T5 indirect lights in the corridors that are supplemented with some bowl fixtures for aesthetic purposes. Lighting in the NICU nurseries can either be womb-like or changes over the course of the day to help the baby develop its circadian rhythms.

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