Designer Forum - January 2013

By Brenda Smith

 

The Piedmont Newnan Hospital, located in Newnan, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, developed out of a deep historical tradition of hospitality and care. Established in the early 1800s, this small community was once known as the “hospital city”—as the location of seven makeshift hospitals during the Civil War, care was provided to over 10,000 soldiers by the war’s end. 

Now a thriving modern community, Newnan is home to this new 362,000 square foot healthcare facility, nestled on a 104 acre campus. As part of the Piedmont Healthcare System, the community replacement hospital opened in May 2012 with 136 patient beds. Private inpatient rooms are adaptable for varying acuity needs of patients and include 12 post-partum beds, 18 critical care beds, and 104 general medical/surgical beds. The facility features eight operating rooms and 23 patient rooms in the emergency department. Also located on the campus is the Piedmont Medical Plaza, comprised of physician practice offices, an outpatient surgery center and an outpatient infusion center. 

Consistent with the environmental values implemented in all Perkins+Will projects, the design team utilized sustainable building strategies for all project decisions. The hospital is infused with green building strategies—from site location and preservation to energy efficiency, water reuse and conservation technologies. Design efforts endeavored to reduce future operating costs, provide a healthier work environment and reduce the overall environmental impact of the project. The building is designed to comply with the LEED green building certification program, with certification pending.

Working collaboratively with the hospital staff and community design committee, Perkins+Will Healthcare principals, Jeff Tyner and Amy Sickeler, both based in Atlanta, guided the design team in meeting the four main intentions for the project.
• Improve the experience for patients and visitors through extensive use of natural light, simplified wayfinding and access to nature from all public spaces.
• Enhance the efficiency of the facility’s operations by improving staffing and maintenance costs.
• Promote flexibility in design so that as technology, clinical processes, and community needs change, the facility can easily support the new work flow.
• Prepare for growth of the facility in the future—the facility is designed to triple in size while only impacting three additional acres and without disruption to any existing spaces or entrances.

USING NATURE IN THE DESIGN
With the integrated assistance of the urban design and landscape group at Perkins+Will, the campus buildings were carefully situated to take advantage of the park-like environment, preserving 60% of the site. The site, which is surrounded by old-growth trees, is enhanced by a central green mall that stretches from the center of the visitor parking area through the building plazas to the stand of trees beyond. The location is complemented with additional outdoor amenities, including trails to the woods and creek, and a central green space. The site trails from the campus are designed to ultimately connect to a community-wide bike trail. 

The roofs along the central plaza are topped with landscaped roof gardens to lessen heat gain and soften the views from public areas. Outdoor dining spaces for both the public and staff surround the central green. Public circulation, waiting areas, and facility amenities are organized along the spacious floor to ceiling windows, offering expansive views to the landscape. The visual connection to nature aids in wayfinding and provides long-distance natural vistas to promote a sense of calm and renewal. 

A visitor to the building enters through a glass box that bisects the building, bluring the line between inside and outside by providing an unrestricted view through the building to the central green. The building materials are familiar and regional in nature, having been carefully selected by the design team to emulate the location. Polished plaster walls, warm tone woods and rich stacked stone and stone slabs are used strategically within the building lobby. These materials are organized on the vertical plane, with some woods used on the ceilings to highlight key areas.

GREEN FLOORING CHOICES
The floors throughout the public spaces are an unusual but stunning design choice for a hospital. The natural polished floors are made of poured concrete with exposed stone aggregate harvested from the site. This flooring choice reflects the natural, local commitment of the building and site, and provides other benefits: while the concrete has a similar beauty and textural interest to terrazzo, it costs 30% less for materials and installation than standard concrete terrazzo. Because it requires only routine wet-mopping, the cost savings and ease of maintenance is substantial. Over the flooring’s lifetime, it will cost 70% less than VCT to maintain. 

In the clinical waiting areas and within nurse stations, the design team selected Shaw Contract carpet tile, custom designed to reflect the same natural palette of warm browns, dusty golds and soft greys found in the wood, stone, and concrete. The carpet provides a quiet, softer solution underfoot. The design team selected a solution-dyed carpet fiber, which allows for the type of heavy-duty cleaning that healthcare facilities occasionally require. The design team referenced Perkins+Will’s Precautionary List and was intentional about selecting a non-PVC tile backing for the carpet product. Low VOC adhesives were used for installation for improved indoor air quality.

In the clinical areas, linoleum was selected for its natural attributes and ease of care. The material, largely derived from wood and linseed oil, does not require the waxing and polishing often used for sheet flooring products. The Forbo Marmoleum linoleum selected has a Topshield coating that provides a natural sheen and protective surface that is inherent to the product. This selection allowed the staff to eliminate the waxing-stripping-waxing process, thereby reducing the toxins in the indoor air and saving money over the life of the product. To meet the project budget, the team opted for Forbo linoleum tile, MCT, which is less expensive than linoleum sheet. The tile product has an integral linear pattern and, installed in a checkerboard pattern, the flooring exudes a larger scale texture. 

This installation method is part of a grander scale pattern throughout the open public spaces, creating a pattern within a pattern. Like all sheet products, the linoleum is easy to cut, which allowed the design team to create complex patterns with sweeping, arcing gestures for both design interest and wayfinding enhancement. For added safety in the patient restrooms, the project team selected Stonhard, a seamless resin product with slip resistant texture. This high performance product eliminates the grout joints of tile, making cleaning and maintenance easy.

As a visitor to the buildings, what stands out is the richness of the materials and the care with which all the elements of the design relate to one another in a balanced and complementary visual language. The natural environment and daylight are striking design elements within the overall palette of materials. The way natural light bounces across the floor is an important and interactive, ever-changing element in the design. And the unhindered nature views are perhaps the most central feature of the spaces, demanding the visitor’s engagement. Evidence-based design research has found that nature views and images promote health and healing. Piedmont Newnan Hospital is infused with this research finding, reflecting the health community’s commitment to sustainable and healthful practice.

Copyright 2013 Floor Focus



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