Organizationally and conceptually, Banner Estrella is a hospital for the future. It provides a full scope of services within 172 private rooms and 450,000 square feet, along with advanced digital and imaging technology for optimal efficiency. Uniquely adaptable for future expansion, it also draws on the beauty of the surrounding desert to honor the human experience.

Looking 10 to 20 years into the future, Banner Estrella incorporates advanced healthcare technology and systems that anticipate change and future healthcare-delivery processes. It is “autogenesic,” meaning that it is structured to evolve based on modular components. Built for systematic growth, all nonbirthing inpatient rooms are universal and acuity-adaptable, with “living areas” for visiting family. Circulation and utilities are arranged along an interconnecting spine that allows the hospital to grow without moving the medical office buildings, expanding the lobby, or moving the physical plant.

Information technology has “un-tethered” the nursing staff and eliminated the traditional nurses' station. Instead of a centralized hub, a clinical integration suite now includes all the acute care and critical care nursing functions, which are accommodated in three distinct areas: Clinical Integration Station, Multipurpose Work Alcove, and Patient Workstation.

An interventional services suite introduces another revolutionary caregiving model that breaks down the traditional clinical “silos.” Surgery, cardiac, and imaging services now share a single clean core. Within this all-encompassing department, staff and doctors move patients and technology freely as the need occurs, enabling seamless and swift care. The obvious benefits are increased efficiency and cost effectiveness, as well as improved collaboration, communication, and operational results.

At Banner Estrella, healing is more than recuperation, as the design acknowledges that people's lives are changed by a medical event. Going beyond efficiency and focusing on the patient's emotional and spiritual well-being, the design responds to the hospital's desert context as a place of singularity. Uncomplicated tectonic forms, made of materials relating to the local tone and texture, create shadows that allow people to sense the movement of time. Like the oasis formed by a canyon in the desert, an interior water feature and plantings run the length of the building, mirrored by an extended two-foot-wide skylight above. A concrete chapel, set in the middle of this stream, symbolizes a stepping-stone to healing.

Project category: New construction (completed November 2004)

Chief administrator: Constance A. Harmsen, Chief Executive Officer, (623) 327-5001

Firm: NBBJ, (206) 223-5555

Design team: Christian Carlson, Principal-in-Charge, Design/Prime Architect (NBBJ); Bill Sheely, Principal, Associate Architect (Orcutt Winslow); George Swarstad, Project Manager, Civil Engineering (CMX, Inc.); Clifford Paul, Project Manager, Structural Engineering (Paul Koehler); Jackie Bolin, Project Manager, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Plumbing (Syska Hennessy)

Photography: John Durant

Total building area (sq. ft.): 440,880

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $206

Total construction cost (excluding land): $91,000,000