The Snake Alley Rehabilitation Department at Great River Medical Center introduces design elements that break from the stereotypical institutional hospital setting and incorporate flexible, free-flowing spaces that inspire and facilitate holistic healing of the body, mind, and soul.

Three-dimensional spaces containing physical elements of daily life are the technologic tools that are the foundation of this design concept. To help patients remaster their activities of daily living, a residential kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, patio door, and porch steps became major design elements of the space. To engage elements of daily living encountered outside the home, a full-size car, a grocery store station, and cracked concrete paving were also incorporated.

Taking its inspiration from the community's “world's crookedest street,” the center's design follows a serpentine path. From the walking path through the center of the unit to the free-form, flowing ceiling design and the life-size mural that the path continues into on the wall, it is this serpentine form from which all the other spaces were created and relate to.

Project category: Conversion (completed February 2005)

Chief administrator: Mark Richardson, President, (319) 768-9000

Firm: InVision Architecture, (319) 233-8419

Design team: Eric Ritland, AIA, Principal-in-Charge; Brian Sanderman, AIA, Project Manager; Bart Etheredge, Associate AIA, Project Architect; Daniel Halbach, Technician; Michelle Turnis, Associate IIDA, Interior Design

Photography: Dale Van Donselaar, Dale Photographics, Inc.

Total building area (sq. ft.): 11,060

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $154

Total construction cost (excluding land): $1,700,000

Homelike, nurturing wood grains and natural colors help create a comforting atmosphere for the patient. Tactile surfaces were considered in addition to the visual. Varying textures including wood, concrete, stone, steel, and glass are incorporated into the space.

An invited element in the space, natural light floods the department on the south through full-height windows overlooking a planned healing garden that will be used in the department's therapies.