Project category: New construction (completed October 2004)

Chief administrator: Ken Shull, Administrator, (828) 526-1400

Firm: Howell Rusk Dodson Architects, (404) 266-9631

Design team: Grady Dale Lee, AIA, Project Manager/Project Architect (Howell Rusk Dodson Architects); Kris Kirchner, Interior Designer (K2J, Inc.); Mechanical Engineering (Barrett Woodyard & Associates); Nebil Sedki, Structural Engineer (Sedki & Russ Engineers)

Photography: © Rion Rizzo/Creative Sources

Total building area (sq. ft.): 52,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $158

Total construction cost (excluding land): $8,200,000

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital is a vital part of an historic mountain town. The assignment to create a medical office facility on the campus presented challenges, resulting in unique design solutions. The final project succeeded in reflecting the area's natural and architectural traditions, as well as the latest in modern medical design, evoking a design theme termed “Rustic Professionalism.”

The design took elements common in the region's rustic-vernacular architecture—stacked stone, heavy timber, and gable shingle roofs—and combined those elements with more traditional materials such as limestone, aluminum framing, and EIFS.

The facility was designed to house multiple medical practices, as well as a women's center, exercise room, massage-therapy area, and medical bookstore. The Healthquest screening clinic, complete with a patient lounge and private terrace, was outfitted with a dedicated elevator, allowing robed patients access to the building's radiology suite.

Interiors echo the building's vernacular style. Rough-sawn Douglas fir in simple stile and rail design is used throughout the public areas. At reception, copper panels accent the vertical surfaces. Warm hues, inspired by the region's spectacular vistas, are used in finish materials. Furniture selections are eclectic, accented by pieces from local craftsmen and embellishing the rustic theme.

Together, the building's interior and exterior designs make creative use of elements common to this mountain area's natural environment and architectural traditions, resulting in the warm, welcoming spirit of a lodge, combined with the latest in medical design.