Families can relax in the ground floor Family Service Centers at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital in Sugar Land, Texas.
Changing demographics were an important consideration, not only for the patients, but also for the hospital staff. “Considering the age profile of our caregivers, we wanted designs that use fewer steps, as well as furnishings and equipment that are easier to open, lift, and use,” Brace continues (figure 2).
This care-team station at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital demonstrates designs that use fewer steps and furnishings and equipment that are easier to open, lift, and use.
“Each hospital is designed to provide state-of-the-art, inpatient acute care and emergency care, and outpatient care is available at the freestanding medical office building on hospital grounds,” observes Heins. “Most patients will find everything they need at these community hospitals although, depending on the acuity of the problem, they do have access to Memorial Hermann's flagship hospital in the Texas Medical Center or, in an emergency situation, there are our Life Flight helicopters, Houston's only hospital-based air ambulance program.”
Developed within the same time frame, the designs of the two facilities began as prototypes that were adapted to meet the specific demands of their locations and markets. Although the use of a prototype is unusual for a not-for-profit healthcare system, the design similarities of the two facilities provided a number of benefits. Memorial Hermann took advantage of the prototype to affect cost savings in the design and construction and to establish a set of best practices for building materials such as lighting, flooring, and finishes. Because speed to market was a factor—30 months for design and construction—the prototype facilitated decision making with the use of common elements, including the basic layout and functional relationships, architectural features, and mechanical systems.
Both Memorial Hermann and the communities benefit from the distinctive architectural features that brand the buildings as part of the system. A tall, lantern-like tower, reminiscent of the landmark tower on the historic hospital in the Texas Medical Center, leverages the high-visibility locations at the crossroads of major highways, even at night when the Lantern is illuminated (figure 3). The curved bed tower, the gracious height of the public concourse and lobbies (figure 4), the healing gardens and signage and graphics all help to create a memorable identity. In fact, the striking profile of the building at Katy (figure 5) has markedly increased emergency room visits, which has led to greater numbers of patient admissions, as well.