Playing It Cool With Facility Design
There are plenty of examples of well-designed and inspiring healthcare projects in our industry today. From beautiful patient rooms with spa-like bathrooms to work spaces the truly support and reinvigorate the doctors, nurses, and staff members putting in those long, hard hours.
So I love it when that same level of detail and importance of design shows up in some unexpected places—like campus support buildings.
Just last month, the editors of Healthcare Design took a hard-hat tour of the new James Cancer Hospital under construction at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. The view from the upper floors of the 21-level building is amazing (you can actually see inside the OSU football stadium) and great effort went toward bringing a lot of outside views and natural light into the building (including the OR suites).
From one side of the building, you also get a bird’s eye view of the South Campus Central Chiller Plant, located across the street and supporting the university’s medical district. This $72.5 million facility was completed in 2013 and is being brought up to its ultimate capacity of 30,000 tons of chilled water in phases.
Cool, for sure, but it’s the outside that really catches your eye.
This 95,000-square-foot concrete building is fitted with 177 dichroic glass fins and dichroic glass boxes that reflect and transmit sunlight throughout the day.
“They activate the exterior using energy from the sun and provide a dynamic expression on the exterior depending on the time of day, season, and the location of the observer,” says Eric Martin at Ross Barney Architects (Chicago).
On this particularly warm summer day, you could see rays of light reaching out in all different shapes and colors. (The effect is just as delightful from the car or sidewalk, as we observed on our way out of town.)
And the light show isn’t just for daytime passersby. Martin says the project team, which included Champlin Architecture (Cincinnati), Arup (Chicago), and Goldray Industries (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), sought to achieve a similar effect at night by mounting LED fixtures inside the glass boxes. (Check it out in this video.)
“The colors that are emitted from the diachronic glass boxes are just as vibrant as the light from the fins in the daytime,” he says. “They provide visible markers for the building that can be seen from the surrounding area.”
When the James opens later this year, it’s hard not to image everyone in the hospital appreciating the view—and the positive distraction—that’s provided by putting some creative thinking into an unexpected place.