Wichita Clinic found itself in a position faced by many growing healthcare providers: It was bursting at the seams in a 20-year-old facility designed for a much smaller practice. A 32-acre rural property with mature native trees, grasses, and ponds was found for the new site. After fully exploring the property with the owner's management team, it became clear: A Prairie-style concept was most appropriate for the setting.

Extensive discussions began with all the specialty groups that would occupy the facility. The concept developed into two distinct buildings from the patient's perspective: one for the clinical practice of the physicians and one for the outpatient surgery and recovery center. However, the facility is truly one building, connected for the efficiency and convenience of the staff and surgeons.

The design of the complex exhibits a strong influence of Frank Lloyd Wright. The exterior utilizes brick with stone banding and a decorative red-shingle roof. The horizontal lines blend with the flat landscape to characterize the early Prairie-style homes found in the region.

The interior setting features textured wall materials in golden tones and carpet and fabrics in an earthy color palette, fulfilling the owner's request for a warm and inviting environment. The centerpiece of the design is the open, cherry-wood staircase, which connects to the second-floor practice spaces. The stile-and-rail paneling provides a warm feel and a “craftsman flavor” to the interior.

Large expanses of glass offer views to the prairie landscaping, and custom-built, leaded-glass light fixtures are icons for information throughout the facility. “The result was not only functional for patient and provider alike, but the environment itself is part of the treatment experience,” said Kim Shank, executive director of the Wichita Clinic.

Rather than a finely manicured lawn, the final concept adopted short, blue-stemmed grasses and taller native plants and wildflowers found in the rolling flint hills of Kansas. The designers also chose to blend the interior and exterior with two patio areas, which serve as exterior waiting rooms in times of pleasant weather.

The project is named Founders' Circle for the founding physicians who worked together nearly 60 years ago to create a regional clinic. They would be proud of their namesake and the team effort that created it.

Project category: New construction (completed September 2005)

Chief administrator: Kimberly Shank, Executive Director, (316) 689-9153

Firm: WDM Healthcare Design, (316) 262-4700

Design team: Les Mock, AIA, ASHE, Principal-in-charge; Dan Wilson, AIA, Design Principal; Matt Byrum, Project Manager; Lora Leonard, IIDA, Interior Designer; Kelly Davis, IIDA, Interior Designer; Brian Hollis, ASLA, Landscape Architect

Photography: Rob McHenry; WDM Healthcare Design

Total building area (sq. ft.): 125,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $131

Total construction cost (excluding land): $16,334,500