Boston Medical Center Brings Modern Outpatient Services to Historic Area

November 12, 2012
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The Shapiro Ambulatory Care Center serves as a new front door for Boston Medical Center on the hospital’s Albany Street side of campus. Photography by ©Jeffrey Totaro. Environmental graphics used in the café (shown here in wall at left) and other public areas (opposite page) were drawn from neighboring buildings to tie the ambulatory care center to its surrounding community. Photography by ©Jeffrey Totaro. The building’s terra cotta cladding is used as a sun-shading device on the south side of the building. Photography by ©Jeffrey Totaro. A view of the sun-shading cladding from the outside. Photography by ©Jeffrey Totaro. The surrounding neighborhood is predominantly made up of red brick buildings, so a terra cotta cladding was chosen to be complementary but still distinguish it as a new, modern facility. Photography by ©Jeffrey Totaro. A contextual view of the environmental graphics created for the center. Photography by ©Jeffrey Totaro. A “Zen-like” atmosphere was achieved through the use of an indoor garden of bamboo and river rock that borders the main stairway to the second level, in addition to light, neutral tones and sandblasted glass. Photography by ©Jeffrey Totaro. Each floor of the ambulatory care center is designed with a modular configuration. At any given time, the space can be changed to hold up to four waiting areas and four clinic modules, depending on patient volumes. Photography by ©Jeffrey Totaro. A “Zen-like” atmosphere was achieved through the use of an indoor garden of bamboo and river rock that borders the main stairway to the second level, in addition to light, neutral tones and sandblasted glass. Photography by ©Jeffrey Totaro. The building exhibits a holistic design concept that brings the outside in through the use of the exterior terra cotta as a feature wall in the lobby, as well as around elevator cores on each floor level. Photography by ©Jeffrey Totaro.
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For some, the choice to receive healthcare isn’t always an easy one to make. From juggling work and kids to not having transportation or money to cover the cost, there are a variety of reasons that going to the doctor may end up taking a back seat.

With a mission statement of  “exceptional care, without exception,” Boston Medical Center (BMC) strives to make this process a little bit easier—regardless of one’s social or economic circumstances.

That objective became the hallmark of a recent project to build BMC’s new 245,000-square-foot Shapiro Ambulatory Care Center in Boston’s historic South End neighborhood. The center, which opened in April 2011, is home to a number of outpatient services, including 20 clinics and 250 exam rooms that answer the growing need in the healthcare industry at large to replace the numerous inpatient beds of old with the quicker, more convenient care offerings of today.

“Ambulatory care is a key and increasingly important component of the services BMC provides. This new facility allows us to operate more efficiently and is integral to the medical center’s future,” says Bob Biggio, vice president of facilities and support services at BMC.

BMC, the amalgamation of the former Boston City Hospital and former Boston University Medical Center, serves a highly diverse urban population and provides such initiatives as buses that circulate neighborhoods to take residents to appointments, off-hour clinics so patients don’t have to miss work, and translation services for more than 70 languages. Among the goals for the ambulatory care center was a desire to enhance even further the ease with which community members could seek care.

“As we design buildings for BMC, the paramount concern is that care is convenient, that it’s one-stop shopping, and when patients are able to make the time for care, they get the highest quality of care in the most coordinated fashion possible, because getting them back for another appointment is oftentimes very difficult,” says Rick Kobus, FAIA, FACHA, senior founding principal of Massachusetts-based Tsoi/Kobus & Associates (TK&A), which designed the facility.


Putting the pieces together
TK&A first came on board with BMC to design its Moakley Building, home to the Cancer Care Center, a first dip into enhancing efficiencies at the campus. Next, the firm moved on to do master planning for BMC, and through this process recognized the need for a centrally located ambulatory care center to house the majority of outpatient offerings.

“The design of the facility needed to be patient-centered within a friendly environment. It also needed to be designed to maximize comfort and privacy for all our patients,” Biggio says.

And within the resulting Shapiro Ambulatory Care Center, an efficient platform for the delivery of services was created, starting with same-handed exam rooms throughout and an overall focus on standardization.

“We really tried to maintain that standardization throughout the design process, and it worked well to establish criteria early on for how these spaces are to be finished. We worked with the client and contractor to establish a timely prototype and carried it through from the beginning to end,” says Richard Moon, AIA, associate principal at TK&A and project manager.

In fact, each floor of the nine-story building is based on a modular configuration with four clinical modules on each floor, with the number of modules engaged at any one time dependent upon patient volume.

“The patient corridors run the length of the building, immediately accessible from the waiting area, and we made sure there’s natural light and views at both ends of the corridor, so patients are oriented toward natural light and views of their neighborhood,” Kobus says.

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