Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH) and Health Network adopted the international symbol for hospital—the letter H—to convey health, healing, and hope to the Muhlenberg community. It is this architectural iconography that anchors the LVH brand name to its market by conveying its strength as an international symbol for hospital and all the other meanings that symbol evokes.

Designers incorporated a 48-foot blue letter H into the hospital's entrance, increasing facility visibility and impact. Intended to facilitate campus wayfinding and identify the hospital's public entrance, the iconic H symbol is integrated into a two-dimensional limestone arcade that welcomes visitors and supports the entrance canopy above. The freestanding arcade also includes the words “Lehigh Valley Hospital,” enriching the entire architectural composition.

The new, seven-story, 260,000-square-foot building allows LVH to provide more vital services to the surrounding community. The Regional Heart Center, Center for Critical Care, Cancer Center, Diagnostic Care Center, and all 188 new private patient rooms were created to maximize a healing environment, convenience, safety, and superior patient-focused care.

As visitors walk through the blue H, they cross the threshold into an advanced new hospital. Upon entering the main lobby, they are greeted by 16, 61-inch plasma screens that create a 19′ × 12′ wall display, which is visible from multiple vantage points inside and outside the building. The screens provide a changeable display venue for information, iconography, and decoration. This bright and colorful focal point highlights the incorporation of technology as an integral component of the new building.

Conveniently located off this inviting main lobby are a gift shop, conference center, cafeteria, pharmacy, chapel, monumental stair, and public elevators. Designers paid particular attention to the chapel, which provides a secluded place for contemplation. Its walls are painted warm, calm shades of blue, and the inspirational quotes that cover its walls are bold in size but subtle in color.

Healing definitely has a new home at Lehigh Valley Hospital's Muhlenberg campus. Continuing a tradition of caring for families that started more than 40 years ago, this new facility proves that a supportive building design can enhance the quality of healthcare. From all private rooms with custom-designed, dedicated charting areas to “tele-intensivists” who provide 24-hour remote monitoring of ICU patients, this healing environment is life enhancing for patients, families, and staff members.

Project category: New construction (completed March 2005)

Chief administrator: Elliott Sussman, MD, President and CEO, (610) 402-2200

Firms: FreemanWhite, Inc., (704) 523-2230; Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc., (215) 487-0400

Design team: Franklin H. Brooks, AIA, ACHA, Managing Principal; Chris Richardson, AIA, Principal-in-Charge; Steve Stokes, Senior Designer (FreemanWhite, Inc.); Robert Venturi, FAIA, Hon FRIBA, Design Principal; James Kolker, AIA, Project Manager (Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc.)

Photography: © Matt Wargo Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 260,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $231

Total construction cost (excluding land): $60,000,000