From its 35-acre site, Northwest Community Hospital serves 17 suburban Chicago communities. Population growth and increased acuity drove the expansion of its emergency department to enable the number of cases to increase from 60,000 in 2003 to a projected 90,000 per year by 2008, and to increase operational bed capacity by 30%.

The first stage is to expand the existing emergency department by replacing an underused one-story building, renovating the existing 24,000-square-foot department, and adding 21,000 additional square feet to accommodate the increased ER volume. The existing emergency department drop-off is retained, thus maintaining community and ambulance familiarity. This building forms the podium for the bed tower and connects the southern and eastern portions of the campus.

Planning the bed tower focused on operational and functional needs for high-acuity care. Its triangular form shortens travel distances for staff, thereby increasing nurse/patient ratios to 1:4. Design also acknowledges the growing need to access infrastructure as technologic decentralization continues. Foremost, the tower is designed to support the hospital's commitment to the “Triad of Care: Patient, Family, and Caregiver.” Rooms are designed to support a variety of complex medical conditions; air quality, thermal comfort, noise control, privacy, and involvement of family and friends are priorities throughout the building.

On the lower floors, efficient patient flow is achieved by seamless connection to the existing emergency department. The new building main-tains a relatively small footprint and creates a slender vertical element as the upper floors “peel away” from the exist-ing geometries of the international-style campus, opening the southern face as a fluid expression of the building's form and energetically redefining the cam-pus's relationship to the community.

Project category: Project in progress/On the board (2006)

Chief administrator: Kathy Reno, COO, (847) 618-1000

Firm: OWP/P, (312) 960-8001

Design team: Deborah Sheehan, Principal, Project Principal; Randy Guillot, Principal, Project Designer; William Kosik, Principal, Project MEP; David Bibbs, Project Structural Engineer; William Baxter, Telecommunications Engineer

Illustration: Advanced Media Design; OWP/P

Total building area (GSF): 201,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $462

Total cost (excluding land): $185,000,000 (including site work and garage)