The marriage of the natural elements of air, water, and earth with state-of-the-art technology became the primary driver for creating a transcendent experience for patients of The Center: Orthopaedic & Neurosurgical Care and Research on the St. Charles Regional Medical Center campus in Bend, Oregon.

The Center is a holistic model of care delivery built around orthopedics and neurosurgery, with an ambulatory surgery center (ASC), imaging, and a complement of related services. This complete offering of neuromusculoskeletal care in one location creates significant patient convenience and has positioned The Center as the premier provider of orthopedics and neurosurgical care in central Oregon.

This is a facility that speaks to its environs, a design so clothed in the regional vernacular that it reaches out to patients through familiarity to negate any anxiety they experience.

Patients enter a dramatic presentation of space that recalls the big-sky wonder unique to the western states. Here, clear water cascades down a rock face into a delightful stream that meanders along the main entry space, and landscape shades of soft hues contrast with wood detailing to create a pristine, lodge-like effect.

Arching skylights harvest natural light to promote a healing, inspiring environment that will especially benefit patients and staff during the long, low months of winter.

The overall effect invokes awe, but the design also responds to the need to draw patients deeper into the building through the fashioning of more intimate spaces designed at a human scale. The artful use of wood trellis, glass, and stone creates smaller, approachable surroundings in both the main registration and waiting areas. The waiting areas are further delineated by the regional elements of desert, water, and mountains for easy wayfinding and recognition. Framed panoramic photographs reflect this regional theme and again provide patients with familiar sights.

Project category: New construction (completed January 2005)

Chief administrator: Garth Jackson, Chief Executive Officer, (541) 382-3344

Firm: Marshall Erdman & Associates, (608) 218-6326

Design team: Doug Furry, PE, Project Director; Craig Olson, Project Coordinator; Rich Dunham, AIA, Project Designer; Tracie Rodman, Interior Designer; Tom Wilson, AIA, Designer

Photography: Eckert & Eckert Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 129,900

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $165

Total construction cost (excluding land): $21,390,000

While the design inspires both joy and confidence in the level of care, it also offers efficiencies that promote greater productivity.

Wireless technology, including the first digital x-ray capability in central Oregon, will network the clinic, ASC, and MRI with the hospital, setting The Center at the forefront of technology in its region. Multiple-level entries and decorative screens provide for extended hours of operation for select services while securing those units that are inactive, eliminating the need to keep all areas staffed. Because the design anticipates growth, the building footprint can easily expand by 40%.