Owner: The Health Alliance of Cincinnati
Architecture: RTKL (Dallas, Texas)
Medical Equipment Planning: RTKL Healthcare Technologies
Low Voltage Systems: RTKL Special Systems Design Group
Construction Management: Mortenson-Messer Healthcare Construction (Cincinnati, Ohio)
MEP Engineering: Fosdick & Hilmer (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Structural Engineering: Zinser Grossman Structural (Dallas, Texas)
Civil Engineering: Woolpert LLP (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Landscape Architecture: Vivian Llambi & Associates (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Photography: © Jeffrey Totaro/Esto
Total Building Area: 389,520 square feet
Project Cost (approximate): $195 million
Construction Cost: $116.5 million
With a population of 56,000 (and growing quickly), West Chester Township, Ohio-located about 30 miles north of Cincinnati-had a great profile, rated as one of the country's most livable communities in several magazine polls. The only thing missing? Area healthcare services. Enter The Health Alliance of Cincinnati, who began planning for a “new market” hospital in 2004, a start-up project with the advantage of having ties to an existing main campus in Cincinnati, but none of the baggage. The resulting West Chester Medical Center is a 162-bed, 100% digital acute care community hospital, designed to accommodate a 144-bed expansion, as well as some noteworthy design and technologic elements. HEALTHCARE DESIGN Editor-in-Chief Todd Hutlock spoke with Project Manager Michael Hoffmeyer, AIA, ACHA, and Designer Steve Biller, AIA, principal, both of architecture firm RTKL, as well as Peter O'Connor, RCDD, principal and leader of RTKL's Healthcare Special Systems Design Group, about the project.
Designing for flexibility and visibility
Steve Biller, AIA: The client gave us the directive from the beginning that they did not want the hospital to look institutional; they wanted it to be a state-of-the-art, all-digital facility, and for the exterior of the building to reflect that.
Because the site is more linear than rectangular, some of the parking is a bit removed, therefore we oriented the building towards that parking to improve the patients' ease of access. The building is also adjacent to an interstate highway, so from a site zoning perspective, we tried to shield the open public spaces from that sound. There was also a desire to provide some legibility of the design concept from the highway to help provide branding for this new start-up hospital. The exteriors that you see from the highway begin to tell you about what you might encounter as you approach and use the facility.
Michael Hoffmeyer, AIA, ACHA: There is no “back door” to this facility; every side of the building has a visible public access. There is the front entry with the adjacent Medical Office Building, and on the opposite side, the patient bed tower and the Emergency Department, which faces a busy retail drive. The other side faces the highway, which also provides visual access from a distance, as Steve mentioned.
Biller: We designed the hospital to expand in place very easily, both physically for a future bed tower addition, and internally from week to week, if needed. It can expand and contract easily to accommodate high census one week and a lower census the next if need be.