The renovation of The Betty Wallace Women's Health Centre at Trillium Health Centre is another step in the total transformation of a 1950s acute care hospital to a new model of community ambulatory care, mixing outpatient programs with private wellness services in a radically different kind of healthcare environment. A collaborative approach involving staff, physicians, patients, and community partners ensured that this project respected women's needs in the community. Women clearly want a one-stop shop for screening and early intervention for breast cancer and osteoporosis, with the best in technology in a friendly, noninstitutional setting.

Project category: Remodel/Renovation (completed October 2004)

Chief administrator: Ken White, President and CEO, (905) 848-7562

Firm: Perkins Eastman Black Architects, Inc., (416) 506-1500

Design team: Susan Black, Principal-in-Charge; Nadia Tobia, Project Director, Designer; Constantine Zografos, Designer; Victor Peralto, Construction Administration

Photography: Ben Rahn/A-Frame

Total building area (sq. ft.): 3,000 (Phase I)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $240 (Canadian)

Total construction cost (excluding land): $720,000 (Canadian)

The concept is evocative of a wellness center or even a spa. The skylighted space with details of warm wood and curves has an overall fluidity, far from the typical maze of hospital corridors. Nothing says clinic. Nothing says hospital. Patients might think they are waiting for a massage or beauty treatment rather than a bone-density scan. The first impression is of hospitality. A long, cantilevered reception desk in two shades of wood defined by floating glass panels allows ample room for patients verifying appointments.

Patients are ushered into a change room, where custom robes and a private sink provide the opportunity to freshen up and remove deodorant, especially before mammograms. Barrier-free considerations include careful spatial design and details such as exam tables that can be electronically raised and lowered. Waves of ephemeral curtains separate the more public waiting area from the internal “client” corridor, again reinforcing the soothing feeling of a spa.

A gallery of photos featuring women from all walks of life, of all ages, and of all ethnic backgrounds provides a positive distraction. The seating is classic Bertoias with special back pads, in an environment filled with light and green. Calming music plays in the background.

“Teaming toward design” is not new to Trillium Health Centre, so the evolution of a spa-like environment for this women's health center came quite naturally. Testimonials from visitors, staff, physicians and, most of all, patients confirm that this design is indeed a success and that going beyond traditional models of healthcare design can make positive differences in how everyone feels.