Assigned to design a state-of-the-art emergency department while simultaneously creating a calm, positive healing environment, the team developed a plan for a holistic theme combining cutting-edge technology with organic elements and creating a modern healing environment with a soothing appeal.

Building structurally on the existing architectural style of clean lines and intersecting planes, the design team chose to introduce softer architectural elements with Eastern influences. Visitors are immersed in the project's thematic elements, focusing on the natural roots of medicine. This begins with the entry lobby, where the project's theme, “The Path to Healing,” is introduced through a mural depicting a peaceful, rural path that draws patients and visitors to the reception area.

The waiting area's functionality and efficiency were essential to the design. The lobby/triage space is separated from the main waiting area by clear glass and wood-screen walls. The expansive waiting room is made more intimate through the use of comfortable seating groups, separated by moveable glass walls that provide auditory control while allowing visual supervision by staff. Visitors can relax with television, connect to the Internet, or converse in comfortable lounge chairs. The ceiling height steps down toward the exterior glass window wall overlooking a water feature and landscaped courtyard, creating a more intimate space and allowing quiet reflection. An adjacent children's waiting room is separated by a glass wall featuring a built-in aquarium.


The open design theme is carried through in patient care areas. Thirty private examination rooms are situated in two linked rings centered around four care-team stations. To provide flexibility based on patient volume, rooms can be opened or closed and care-team stations staffed depending on patient load.

Care teams and their associated patient rooms are named for nature's remedies: Trees, Herbs, Flowers, and Grains. These rooms feature photography displaying one of these “Roots of Medicine.” Despite the facility's organic theme, technology remains essential. Large, suspended flat-screen monitors, wireless communication, electronic devices, and sound-masking technology were used throughout.

Project category: New construction & Remodel/Renovation (completed March 2005)

Chief administrator: Lynn Jackson, Administrator, (770) 844-3219

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.); Nebil Sedki, Structural Engineer (Sedki & Russ Engineers); Mechanical & Electrical Engineering (Perry Crabb & Associates); Douglas Westhoven, Project Manager (Office Images, Inc.)

Photography: Mike Moreland; © Rion Rizzo/ Creative Sources

Total building area (sq. ft.): 66,822 (new); 7,900 (renovation)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $165 (new); $152 (renovation)

Total construction cost (excluding land): $11,000,000 (new); $1,200,000 (renovation)


Visitors exit through a corridor that features unique Plexiglas panels with natural elements reflecting the healing theme. It is here that visitors read the simple inscription, “Where the wisdom of nature meets modern medicine,” a final reminder of how the hospital is striving to provide the latest medical technology combined with a peaceful environment to make the patient experience as calming and positive as possible.