Mercy Hospital is a licensed, 284-bed community hospital that is part of the Alegent Health system, based in Omaha, Nebraska. In addition to acute care services, the hospital provides behavioral health services. The Mercy Hospital campus includes two medical office buildings connected to the main hospital via tunnel, and a day-care center. The hospital was built in 1971. Aside from construction of a new ICU and step-down unit in 1990, major additions or renovations have not occurred.

Alegent Health—Mercy Hospital is setting a new standard for community medical centers, with new services and an attractive and functional front-door design. The facility is undergoing more than $22 million in improvements and expansions to meet the growing healthcare needs of the Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie region.

The renovation and improvement projects will include a first-of-its-kind women's center, featuring diagnostic and treatment services and alternative and complementary medicine. A new medical office building and a heart center, with the most innovative cardiovascular technology and treatments, will also be available. The three-story medical office building will provide state-of-the-art facilities to expand new and existing physician practices. In addition, the new campus will feature expanded parking and will be more accessible to the public.

The addition and renovation project includes a new two-story lobby that serves as the main entrance and enhances circulation and wayfinding. One goal of the design was to provide clear, distinct entrances. Visitors once had to walk, in all kinds of weather, nearly a half-mile from the parking garage to the entry. The new front entry, with curved glass and a vertical cylinder lobby icon, is much closer to the existing parking garage and is connected by a new tunnel.

To create the new front door and gain access to the lower level, it was necessary to remove the existing patient parking and entry, as well as 20 feet of grade. This provided additional outpatient-related space. The client's goal is to bring services to the patient.

The existing hospital is 30 years old with a specialized department design to service inpatient clients with an average stay of 10 days. The new hospital configuration continues to accommodate inpatients but also serves the rapidly growing outpatient population. Also, many of the major departments—such as diagnostics, radiology, phlebotomy, and neurology—are now located together.

A new two-story, curved-glass arcade was created to provide a link between the medical office building, outpatient services, and the existing inpatient hospital. Along this arcade are a welcome center, gift shop, and waiting areas that integrate warmth and natural light. The arcade also helps provide a visual exterior orientation as patients move through the facility.

Renovations include a new surgery perioperative area to improve flow and efficiency to the existing operating room suite. The emergency department was redesigned, doubling its size and adding designated space and equipment to serve cardiology and trauma patients.

A contemporary exterior design complements the existing, timeless design of the campus. Using matching precast concrete and a high-performance glass-curtain wall system, the new addition provides a fresh, new image and identity. The new lobby serves as a beacon that orients the community to the main entrance of the facility for the first time.

Project category: New construction & Remodel/Renovation (completed September 2003)

Chief administrator: Marie Knedler, VP, Administrator, (712) 328-5000

Firms: Holland Basham Architects, (402) 551-0800; HKS, Inc., (214) 969-5599

Design team: J. Keith Basham, RA, Principal; Susan Seidel, RA, Partner (Holland Basham Architects); Craig Beale, FAIA, FACHA, RIBA, CHE, CHC, Principal and Senior VP; Norman T, Morgan, Jr., AIA, Senior VP (HKS, Inc.); Robert Carlisle, Contractor (Meyers-Carlisle-Leapley Construction Co.)

Photography: Holland Basham Architects; Tom Kessler

Total building area (GSF): 57,000 (new); 67,334 (renovation)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $149

Total cost (excluding land): $18,520,000