Aneetha McLellan; Julie Robertson HDR Architecture, Inc.
The new 92,000 sq. ft. hospital is a aesthetic impression of a new birth center. It is a strategic partnership of Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Children's Hospitals & Clinics. It is intended to provide "family centered maternity care. The project is designed with materials that evoke a sense of warmth, comfort and beauty in a stress-free environment. Paths of circulations tie the units to each other through separate routes dedicated to patients, staff, visitors and supplies, respectively. Because this was a merging of 2 distinct brands a new identity through design was created.
The major concept of the project was centered around the care of the mother and baby. The mother baby facility is housed in a four story building behind a curved glass facade, which peeks out from the existing facility that it ties to. The hospital had 2 distinct clients (Abbott Northwestern and Children's Hospital) that each had their own identity and brand. Each were known for their respective business classes and specialities, but they each offer something that the other doesn't. The design team felt a strong need to create a new brand, image and look for this Mother Baby Facility. This led them to integrating an overall artistic impression which later coined itself as the "iconic image." The iconic image became an architectural feature instead of an applied art installation. The art became an integral part of the architectural presence of the space and also branded and identity for this facility that shared two different partners. The art became a visual distraction, a healing emphasis to the care of the patient(s) and a wayfinding element in the space. The ultimate task was to provide a stress free environment.
The process was overall a collaboration between artist, design team and those that produced the product that the art was applied to. The ultimate goal was that the design of this facility had to be unique, iconic and graphic in nature. Photography of nature was the obvious choice. The collaborative team knew through evidence-based design research that "nature" was a natural healer so specific flowers/botanicals were selected. This graphic imagery provided a feminine touch, positive distraction, an embracing feeling and overall aesthetic that appealed to the staff, patients and family. Different media was used to translate the art. Wallcovering, light panels and laminate panels were implemented throughout and integrated into the architecture so it almost didn't appear as applied art. The art became a "brand" and "identity" within the space. In addition it lead people thru and became wayfinding elements. One element of the design that made the use of the art different was the overall scale and proportion in which it was used. It was somewhat symbolic yet to the point, "Larger than Life."
Throughout the process new innovative concepts were being implemented. New printing technology, micro-photography and LED technology enabled many of the concepts to happen. By enlarging the overall scale of the images, it accentuated the details of the actual botanicals making it quite challenging.
Art played center stage in the overall design. Instead of the typical use of art, art was embedded directly into the architecture without it looking like it was an solution applied after the fact. It was an truly integrated solution as all art should be.
The Mother Baby Center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital
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