Continuing our discussion of clinic design, we look at the entry sequence as an important first impression. A well-designed public entry projects a commitment to quality care and inspires patients’ confidence.

From small storefront clinics to large healthcare campuses with multiple access points, the entry sequence draws patients and other visitors intuitively to the “front door.” 

To make the entry sequence as straightforward and stress-free as possible, designers might consider these key features: 

Visual prominence
Designers often include distinctive architectural elements to create a visible entrance and reinforce a sense of community. CentraCare Clinic-Health Plaza in St. Cloud, Minnesota, did just that with a “beacon light” that recalls an aircraft warning beacon atop the original St. Cloud Hospital. Today, the new Health Plaza revisits the beacon imagery with a masonry tower and lantern that provide an inviting yellow glow visible from miles around. The updated beacon is a constant reminder of the community’s heritage—a familiar icon that links the old with the new.

The natural environment and sustainable landscaping continue to gain importance as healthcare organizations focus on well-planned spaces that help patients relax and feel welcome. Outdoor plazas, gardens, landscaped areas, and other natural amenities are more common with clinics, including those in urban areas.

Designers often address safety and aesthetics when developing exterior lighting. Properly positioned light fixtures ensure the comfort and safety of patients and staff. Well-placed entry lighting enhances the exterior architecture without interfering with interior spaces or creating exterior light pollution. Evenly illuminated driving and walking surfaces often feature bollards, low-scale poles, and step lights to create intimate, safe, and comfortable entries.

Signage from the road and entry drive helps visitors easily find their destination. In large, multi-building healthcare campuses, the signage directs visitors along interior roads and paths toward parking and building entrances. Well-designed signage is integrated with the architecture and landscaping but distinctive enough to stand out from the foliage—no hapless tree branch blocking the directions.

Parking lots and garages should be located close to key entries for easy access. ADA-compliant parking spaces close to the main entry enable patients and visitors to enter the clinic without crossing traffic. Well planned drop-off areas provide a convenient medium between the entry and adjacent parking.

To read Christine Guzzo Vickery's previous blogs on clinic design, please follow these links: