Project category: New construction (completed January 2003)

Chief administrator: Johnny Brown, COO, (312) 864-6000

Firm: CCH Design Group, (312) 565-1800

Design team: Loebl Schlossman & Hackl; McDonough Associates, Inc.; Globetrotters Engineering Corporation; HDR, Inc.

Photography: Brian Fritz; © David B. Seide, Defined Space; © Scott McDonald, Hedrich Blessing; ©2002 Bruce Van Inwegen

Total building area (sq. ft.): 1,185,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $296

Total construction cost (excluding land): $350,993,230


The oldest public hospital in the United States, 89-year-old Cook County Hospital needed a 21st- century facility to optimize patient care and financial performance. The new John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County was designed to bring together advanced technology, efficient space programming, contemporary settings, and a tradition of community-focused hospital care into a state-of-the-art building. The 1,185,000-sq.-ft. facility includes 464 inpatient, critical, specialty, and general beds; comprehensive outpatient specialty/diagnostic and treatment facilities; 46,000 square feet of diagnostic and clinical laboratory space; and a 2,100-car parking structure.

The exterior design conveys a classic, timeless appearance. Muted colors are accented by reflective-glass windows, and a horizontal motif runs through both the exterior and interior design. Sandstone-colored precast concrete, with two tones of aggregates, creates a banding effect on the façade; at grade level, earth-tone granite is used. To bring the outside in, the same granite is used in the main lobby. The facility is composed of what may be perceived as three buildings, each reflecting the internal vertical and horizontal organization of the building's function. To maximize the building's perimeter for daylight, large notched areas were cut into the building at levels three, four, and five.

Replacing a sprawling 13-building campus, the new hospital combines specialized clinics with inpatient and surgical units in a single facility. The eight-story building's layout facilitates patient flow as a means of improving care. Clusters of related functions promote ease of access for patients, as well as integration and coordination for service providers. By centralizing key functions such as emergency, specialty clinics, all clinical and stat laboratories, imaging, and surgical suites, the design both promotes staff efficiency and avoids redundancies between inpatient and outpatient operations.


The challenge in designing the replacement hospital was not only to fit all the required departments and areas into a limited amount of space, but also to make the space adaptable to future changes in medical science, technology, and patient care. The goal was to create a timeless framework within which the building could be adapted to changing modes of healthcare by revisiting the interior without changing the exterior.

The completed facility provides an efficient environment where staff can concentrate more on patient needs and care without physical or facility impediments.