Project category: New construction (completed September 2005)

Chief administrator: Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO, (608) 782-7300

Firm: Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP, (414) 359-3060

Design team: Michael Scherbel, AIA, Partner-in-Charge; Dan Becker, Project Manager; Brian Nelson, Project Designer; Dan Effenheim, Interior Designer; F. Basilio Mercaso, Project Architect; Kevin Wall, Project Architect

Photography: ©2005 John J. Korom Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 15,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $221

Total construction cost (excluding land): $3,310,079

Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center set out to build a stand-alone, 15,000-sq.-ft., 30-station renal dialysis center located in the hospital's suburban outpatient campus in Onalaska, Wisconsin. A holistic approach required a careful integration of site, building, and interior to achieve the client's goal of creating a serene healing environment for patients and an inspirational space for staff.

The central planning concept was to create public, treatment, and support zones, with the treatment area organized into “neighborhoods” to break down its apparent size. Natural colors, an exposed wood structure, and indirect lighting create a soothing environment for patients, whose treatment frequently lasts for hours.


Windows that surround the dramatic vaulted treatment area provide an abundance of natural daylighting without the need for supplemental lighting. Generous overhangs and a louvered sunshade were designed to limit glare and heat gain during summer months. From these windows, all treatment areas enjoy views to the rain gardens that are both visually and spatially accessible and offer an alternative storm-water management approach to the ubiquitous retention pond.

The exterior is clad in a combination of horizontal tongue-and-groove cedar siding and brick that matches brick used on other campus buildings. It is this palette of building materials and landscape that informed the interior finishes, as well.

Careful and thoughtful detailing by the contractor and creative, budget-sensitive solutions allowed for a well-crafted and inspirational solution for both staff and patients.