A healthcare philanthropy needed to replace its undersized and overused orthopedic hospital in Mexico City with a new facility that meets all U.S. standards, codes, and regulations and supports the highest level of patient care. It challenged the design team to create a technologically advanced building that would be welcoming to patients who come from different regions of Mexico and would capitalize upon its urban setting in a way that respects and enhances the fabric of the city.

The new hospital is oriented around a large, landscaped courtyard that functions as overflow waiting for patients and families, as well as a play space for siblings and outdoor dining for staff and visitors. The primary building circulation on all levels rings this courtyard, helping with visitor orientation. There are separate, quieter roof terraces for patient recreation and staff use, as well as an enclosed patio for inpatient and outpatient physical rehabilitation.

The building is clad in locally produced marble, resistant to the air pollution that plagues the city and weathering more attractively than manufactured materials. The building's blocky massing is reminiscent of traditional Mexican architecture, but the detailing is clearly contemporary, with windows of varying sizes and shapes providing ample views.

The outpatient clinic is broken into three smaller areas to enable staff to accommodate the largest number of patients efficiently, while not intimidating small children and anxious families. In addition to the large outpatient clinic, the hospital provides full orthopedic services, including a surgical suite with four operating rooms, imaging, an extensive inpatient and outpatient rehab department, and an orthotics production unit. The 80 inpatient beds are separated into four smaller units, each with age-appropriate play spaces and support services.

Project category: Project in progress (April 2005)

Chief administrator: Araceli Nagore Robles, Administrator, (011) 52-55-5618-9229

Firm: The S/L/A/M Collaborative, (860) 657-8077

Design team: James M. McManus, President; Christopher Upton, Project Manager; David Black, Project Manager; Javier Salazar, Project Architect (The S/L/A/M Collaborative); Sergio Zepeda, Principal-in-Charge (Zepeda & Veraart Arquitectos [Associate Architect])

Illustration: Zepeda & Veraart Arquitectos

Total building area (GSF): 236,672

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $207

Total cost (excluding land): $49,046,350