Zeidler Partnership Architects (ZPA) has completed the design of a 340-bed, 600,000-square-foot Diagnostic Imaging and Surgical Procedures hospital—Assuta Medical Center—located in the northern greenbelt of Tel Aviv's high-technology district. It is being constructed in two stages, with the proposed opening date for the first phase being November 2008. Designing a healthcare facility in the international field required a deep understanding of the site and the local culture to comprehend the nature of a hospital 10,000 miles away from ZPA's offices in Toronto.
Before undertaking the design process, ZPA investigated the issues involved from three directions: nature of the site, nature of the client, and the nature of the facility. These three aspects provided ZPA the tools to design a hospital that will grow from the roots of the country and the society.
Nature of the site
The site (figure 1) fronts Hayarkon Park to the south, while to the north, the long rectangular site borders on Habarzel Street, a newly developed high-tech zone for the city. Hayarkon Park meanders through Tel Aviv starting from the Mediterranean Sea and going east to the mountains. One design goal was to find a way to provide a connection from the street to the park and city beyond. The second major challenge was that the site was part of a pre-existing two-phase commercial development. Phase I, an office complex, had already been built, while Phase II, the hospital site proper, had previously been excavated with all the foundations in place to receive another office complex. The hospital had to be designed to work with these foundations.
The Assuta Medical Center site fronts Hayarkon Park to the south and borders on Habarzel Street to the north, a newly developed high-tech zone for the city
Nature of the client
The client group consists of an insurance company that will manage the hospital, providing both the medical and nonmedical services, and the development company, which would not only construct but also own the building. Working with this unique joint venture has had a profound influence on the design process and on the nature of the building.
Nature of the facility
The Assuta Medical Center's main services are invasive and noninvasive, diagnostic and procedural. They include outpatient and inpatient facilities, with 20 Operating Rooms, 40 ICU beds, 300 acute care beds, Imaging, Catheter Labs, Radiation Therapy, and 25 Dialysis Positions. The facility is designed to provide uniquely available acute care with the use of sophisticated equipment. The aim was to have these qualities reflected in the image of the building.
The combination of the client group, the facility, and the site (with the particular challenge of the pre-existing construction), all combined with the procedural/diagnostic hospital program to allow development of a unique design appropriate to this facility. It was decided that to achieve the goals of the client group, accommodate the programmatic needs of the hospital, and respond to the site conditions a variety of tools would be used to enable the client group to make informed decisions at each step of the design process.
The design process
The design process began with a charette of five individual architects within ZPA. Each developed a scheme over three weeks to present to the client. The five schemes were then reduced to three choices.