Project category: Remodel/Renovation (completed June 2005)

Chief administrator: Earl Tamar, COO, (815) 971-6708

Firms: Richard L. Johnson Associates, Inc., (815) 398-1231; Rockford Health System, (815) 971-6781

Design team: Richard L. Johnson, AIA, Architect; Sharon Rose Nissley, Interior Designer; Tim Wendt, PE, Mechanical Engineer; Walt Szymanski, Construction Administrator (Richard L. Johnson Associates, Inc.); Brian Myers, AIA, Manager Architectural Services; Len Lotz, CHCC, Project Manager (Rockford Health System)

Photography: ©2005 Nels Akerlund Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 1,400 (new); 7,606 (renovation)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $155 (new); $183 (renovation)

Total construction cost (excluding land): $217,570 (new); $1,391,980 (renovation)

The primary objectives for the renovation and expansion of the lobby at Rockford Memorial Hospital were to provide a gracious introduction and positive first impression to the hospital, improve pedestrian flow of visitors and patients, facilitate wayfinding, and accommodate patients and families with comfortable waiting areas. To this end, the renovation has created an atmosphere of sophisticated hospitality. Unique features—including a waterwall, a fireplace, a coffee bar, and an elegant glass donor-recognition wall—harmonize to soften the institutional setting. Patients and visitors forget they are in a hospital.

The dramatic skylights topping the entrance canopy and lobby announce the main entrance and bathe the once-dark interior with natural light. As people enter the space, they are welcomed by the large fireplace that anchors the lobby and invites them to proceed forward to the information desk. The soothing sound of the nearby waterwall, combined with the faint melody from a piano, calms the senses. The curved front desk has a sleek, contemporary design that combines the main elements in the space: two tones of wood, brushed aluminum, and granite. Cylindrical pendant lighting is used throughout the space in seating areas in lieu of table lamps. The lighting is repeated in columns, the front desk, and the coffee bar.


The flooring includes several patterns and solid colors, easily transitioning from carpet to ceramic tile. The placement of these flooring types is based on a grid pattern that is occasionally interrupted by soft, curved lines that lead visitors to their destinations. The flooring connects directly to eight existing columns that have been designed to complement other elements in the space. The columns meet a ceiling that is designed as a subtle reflection of the flooring pattern, using various height and texture changes while highlighting the skylights and cove-light areas.


A warm glow of light escapes from the museum-quality Heritage Center by way of edge-lit glass panels over darkly finished walls. The hospital's story unfolds for visitors through the use of a time line and archival photographs that illustrate how the hospital's history has coincided with medical history and world events.

The coffee bar offers visitors a diversion and features warm blocks of rich paint colors. Cocoa browns hint at the aroma of coffee brewing, while mossy greens invite visitors to view the garden courtyard or venture out to the sunny patio.