The Chickasaw Nation Carl Albert Indian Health Facility [Ada, OK]
Project category: Project in progress (January 2010)
Chief administrator: Bill Lance, Administrator, (580) 421-4556
Firm: PageSoutherlandPage, (512) 472-6721
Design team: Matthew F. Kreisle, III, AIA, Principal-in-Charge; Lawrence W. Speck, FAIA, Design Principal; William Kregg Elsass, AIA, Senior Programmer/Planner; Jeffrey A. Fox, AIA, LEED AP, Project Manager; Marsha Esponda-Bernard, RA, Project Architect; James C. Alvis, PE, Civil Engineer
Total building area (sq. ft.): 369,400
Construction cost/sq. ft.: $298
Total construction cost (excluding land): $110,000,000
From direction provided by tribal leadership, design commenced in early 2006 for this replacement hospital constructed on a 230-acre site south of Ada, in southeastern Oklahoma. Occupancy for the 216,000-sq.-ft. hospital—including an 11,000-sq.-ft. central plant—and 142,000-sq.-ft. clinic will begin in early 2010.
Generally, Native American culture emphasizes a unique relationship with nature as something requiring respect and appreciation. The building was organized to take advantage of the pristine aspects of the site which, including a creek on the eastern edge and many large pecan, elm, and oak trees. A major design goal was to maximize access to and views of these natural elements while increasing the amount of daylight let into the building. A concept entitled “Front/Front” assisted in achieving this goal. Traditional “front” elements—such as parking and public access—and “back” elements—where most hospitals locate utility areas including the service dock, transformers, helipad, and central plant components—were moved to the side. This allows the facility to connect to its site in as many places as possible. Patient units were set on the ground floor with rooms oriented toward the undeveloped parts of the site.
Massing and building forms are influenced by eastern Native American culture, and specifically by Chickasaw art. One example is the development of “Town Center,” an atrium gathering space at the heart of the facility. Chickasaw culture embodies giving, sharing, and a connection to extended family. By locating the atrium at the center of the facility and placing dietary services adjacent to it, a prime space for meeting and interacting emerges. The faceted façades of the building and terrazzo floor patterns were influenced by traditional Chickasaw neckwear, reflecting these handmade pieces in their assembly and organization.
Natural materials such as Oklahoma stone and unfinished copper panels support the goal of connecting the building to its site, inspired by Native American woven blankets and baskets. There is an organized, yet organic aspect to these items, and the primary façades of the buildings take on these characteristics.
Combining efficient and organized planning with consistent architectural concepts, the Chickasaw Nation Carl Albert Indian Health Facility will be a safe and nurturing healthcare environment for the people of the Chickasaw Nation and all Native Americans living in this area of Oklahoma.