The “Mercy touch” has been synonymous with excellent, compassionate healthcare in eastern Iowa since 1900. That's when a small group of Catholic nuns opened a 15-bed hospital in Cedar Rapids. The Sisters of Mercy moved in 1903 to a new 100-bed hospital at a downtown site and continued to expand there for nearly 100 years. Eventually, the campus grew to include more than 350 inpatient beds. By the late 1990s, however, Mercy's legacy of caring leadership was in peril. Its aging, landlocked, central Cedar Rapids campus had become a liability.

Mercy's traditional hospital design was inefficient and ill suited for the shift to outpatient care, and it lacked space for other high-demand programs. Parking was inadequate and inconvenient. Perhaps most worrying, the dated look of Mercy's facilities was unappealing to patients and staff—raising doubts about the institution's ability to deliver state-of-the-art care.

The dramatic first step in realizing Mercy's new vision was the $32 million J. Edward Lundy Pavilion, which opened in May 2002. The pavilion provided highly efficient and badly needed space, enlarging the overall medical center by 25% and adding 500 stalls of more accessible parking. Perhaps most importantly, it created an appealing new healing environment and living proof of Mercy's determination to remain the area's leading healthcare provider.

Completed in less than two years, the project also renovated 20,000 square feet of existing hospital space. The pavilion project seamlessly integrated new space with existing facilities through the use of compatible architecture, yet provided a much-needed facelift. Mercy's delighted CEO proclaimed, ”It looks like it's always been there.”

Project category: New construction (completed May 2002)

Chief administrator: James Tinker, CEO, (319) 398-6000

Firm: Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc. (HGA) with Shive Hattery, (612) 758-4479

Design team: Dan Rectenwald, AIA, Principal, Planning; Jennifer Klund, Planning; Dan Polachek, AIA, Senior Design Architect; Dave Moga, Project Architect; Chris Vickery, Interior Designer

Photography: George Heinrich

Total building area (GSF): 145,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $205

Total cost (excluding land): $32,000,000