North Wing Addition
Type of facility: replacement inpatient facility and critical-care nursing unit
Client: Griffin Hospital
Project architect: SLAM Collaborative (formerly known as Stecker LaBau Arneill McNanus Architectscq), Glastonbury, Conn.
Construction manager: Turner Construction, Shelton, Conn.
Completed: June 1994
Size: 96,000 square feet
Total cost: $18.7 million
Cost per square foot: $195
All the jurors agreed that Griffin Hospital's north wing addition is one classy facility.
Its sophisticated approach to design, a patient-focused therapeutic environment and the architects' close attention to detail were among the factors that influenced the jury's unanimous choice of the Griffin project for the highest honor in this year's design awards.
The design is based on the Planetree philosophy, which emphasizes patient education and encourages patients and their families to become involved in the healing process.
"I was delighted to see the adaptation of these design principles to a new facility. The attention to detail is superb," said judge Robin Orr.
From 1982 to 1992, Orr served as executive director and administrator of Planetree, the San Francisco-based not-for-profit consumer health organization that pioneered the idea. Orr currently is a consultant and was not involved in the Griffin project.
Some 24 hospitals nationwide have been renovated using the Planetree model, but Griffin was the first facility designed and constructed based on the philosophy.
One of the judges' favorite design elements of the north wing addition was the 1,500-square-foot community resource center that connects satellite centers on each floor. The placement of the resource center on each patient floor invites patients, family and friends to learn more about medical conditions.
"The spiral staircase connecting each floor is a departure from the typical healthcare design," said judge Deborah Rohde.
"Most of this model is based on choices (for patients)," said Bill Powanda, vice president for support services at the hospital and its parent company, Griffin Health Services Corp.
Moreover, Powanda said Planetree is winning over patients. Admissions have grown over the past three years, and patient-satisfaction levels have been 93% for the past three quarters.
Location of the nursing stations also makes for a patient-friendly design. Instead of the typical central nursing station per unit, satellite stations each serve four patients.
In addition, the wing's critical-care unit was designed on an angle for better surveillance. The unit has 14 beds for critical and cardiac care and allows round-the-clock visitation.
To avoid traffic problems and to ease tension for nurses and doctors, the design team created a U-shaped corridor around the critical-care unit designating one corridor for staff and the other for visitors. Each room has two doors allowing easy access to the separate corridors, a television, a bed that doubles as a scale and windows that filter in a lot of natural light.
"This is a wonderful example of a patient-focused therapeutic environment," said judge D. Kirk Hamilton. "It makes no compromise on medical function while respecting the economy of construction."