Characterized by its curved glass façade, the new patient tower at Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), is more than just a new facility helping consolidate women’s services for the health system. The 300,000-square-foot building has helped reorganize and renew the 48-acre LIJ medical campus.

The tower contains two distinct programmatic elements stacked vertically above each other: The Katz Women’s Hospital and the Zuckerberg Pavilion, each with its own dedicated entrance and lobbies. The Zuckerberg Pavilion, in fact, functions as the new entry point for the entire North Shore LIJ Hospital, providing a modern facelift for the campus that elegantly reflects the theme of rebirth.

SOM Design Partner Mustafa K. Abadan, FAIA, and Paul Whitson, AIA, director of the firm’s Health+Science practice, as well as Senior VP for Facilities Services at North Shore LIJ Health System Maurice LaBonne, spoke to HEALTHCARE DESIGN Senior Editor Todd Hutlock about the project.


Driving the design

Mustafa K. Abadan, FAIA: North Shore Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System has been growing steadily, and has been purchasing other hospitals around Long Island, even branching out into Manhattan and beyond. That growth pattern obviously led to a lot of service duplications between the facilities. Part of successfully managing this growth is to successfully consolidate certain services. This was the impetus behind the Katz Women’s Hospital and Zuckerberg Pavilion project.

The facility literally sits on the border of New York City and Nassau County, but the hospital is technically in Queens. So it is ideally located to serve both the urban and suburban communities surrounding it. The hospital itself was built in incremental fashion, starting in the 1940s, and added to organically over the years.

Maurice LaBonne: This building creates a new front door not only for Long Island Jewish Hospital, but for the entire LIJ Medical Center. The LIJ Medical Center campus is comprised of three facilities in addition to the new Katz Women’s Hospital and the Zuckerberg Pavilion building: Long Island Jewish Hospital, the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, and the Zucker Hillside Hospital, which is a behavioral health facility.

Our vision for this project was twofold. One goal was to create a new home in what is among the largest obstetrical programs in the state. The program was housed in a 1960s era building, which was far behind the times as far as physical design and amenities. The idea was to provide state-of-art facilities to match the state-of-the-art medical care that was being provided there.

The second goal was to create a new image for the overall campus and a new front door for LIJ Hospital. We have made significant upgrades and investments all over campus, and we wanted to present a new “public face” for those improvements. We wanted to make a statement with this building, and create a new image for this institution.

Paul Whitson, AIA: I actually came to this project about halfway through the design process; what had started with initial planning in 2006 had risen to a fever pitch when I joined in 2009. One of the first tasks I was given was to work with the users on the full-scale mockups we had built of a typical LDR patient room, an antepartum, and a postpartum patient room with a section of corridor and a satellite nurses’ station, which was located outside of the rooms.

I had to roleplay the activity in the room with the doctors, nurses, and other facility representatives to make sure we had designed things the right way. It was a fairly intense process; we brought in all of the constituents, basically.

The information systems became a large part of this design. As you know, the robust nature of the information systems is a big component in making a modern hospital successful. This became a key element of the patient room design, and it is not something that is communicated well on paper or in a BIM model. These systems really need to be worked out in the field, and so this process of acting things out was very important.

Our full mockups included full finishes and all of the actual equipment that we could get our hands on to properly simulate the experience of the environment. This helped to solve a lot of potential issues before we even got into construction.

Abadan: As far as collocation of key elements, such as imaging, the ideal location on this site was directly in front of the existing bed tower. Even though the campus is large as far as acreage, the circulation systems around it and other elements, such as parking garages and an adjacent senior care facility, create a real constraint.

The geometry of the building—which is based on the ancient “Vesica Pisces,” a fertility symbol derived from overlapping circles —allowed us to create a footprint that would accommodate the program and leave enough circulation space for the rest of the campus to function. 

Through this project, we created a new approach to the campus, created a new promenade, and reorganized the way people would arrive on campus and proceed to the new front door and into the other parts of the campus. The building we designed has two separate identities—in addition to serving as the women’s hospital, the lobby of the building functions as the main lobby for the entire existing hospital. The lower four floors of the building are the Katz Women’s Hospital, and the Zuckerberg Pavilion, composed of general hospital beds, sits on top of it.

Whitson: Another important part of the program was a change in the delivery model. Previously, the postpartum rooms had either two or four beds in them. In order to catch up with current codes and trends in patient care, LIJ wanted to move to all single beds.

In Katz, all of the rooms are single-bedded, designed both in anticipation of the 2010 FGI Guidelines and to provide the optimal patient care environment. As much as possible, the existing multibed rooms will be retrofitted to become single-bed rooms. 

LaBonne: While the move to single patient rooms is not earth-shattering to the rest of the nation, this project was one of the first in the Greater New York City area to make the move in that direction. The combination of small, tight site areas and cost make private patient rooms a rarity in the area, as well as much of the Northeast in general.

We used that arc shape of the building to help us squeeze into the tight site, but also it allowed us to reduce walking distances for nursing staff and accommodate more space in the patient rooms by elongating one side.


Shaping solutions

Abadan: Part of the reason the building’s geometry emerged was its adjacency with the existing hospital. Because of the proximity of the two buildings and the constraints of the site, there were going to be a number of patient rooms facing each other. By curving the face of the new building, we were able to minimize those face-to-face adjacencies.

The curved shape also allowed sufficient perimeter space for all of the patient rooms, nurses’ stations, lounges, and other functional elements that we needed on each floor. We also found that curving the corridors made for a more intimate feel in the patient care units, especially with the move to single-bed rooms.

Whitson: Most of the patient rooms in the new building face out onto a new landscape; the whole idea of the landscape supporting the healing environment was a large part of what we were trying to accomplish with this project. One side of the building has ro
oms that look out over a new promenade, while the other side faces the existing hospital. That space between the new hospital and the existing hospital is planned to include a healing garden space, accentuating the connection to nature.

Most of the women visiting the Katz Women’s Hospital are not sick patients, so adding a hospitality feel was another major driver. We made the interiors very sophisticated and noninstitutional as a result of that idea. The arc shape of the building worked to our benefit by allowing us to maximize the amount of daylight entering the patient rooms.

Abadan: The entire ground floor of the building is a transparent glass lobby. At the center of it is a meditation room, which provides separation between the two programs housed in the building, and allows each of them to have a distinct lobby space with different feels. Everything on the women’s hospital side, for example, is scaled more intimately and is geared toward a more personal experience.

Whitson: Because of the multiuse nature of the building, it was determined that there were up to 10 different patient flows that had to be planned for and integrated into the design. So there is a sequence for every type of patient, as well as the staff, based on what part of the building they will be visiting, and what sort of treatment they will be receiving.



LaBonne: We really have two clients: the clinicians and the patients. Early on in the project, we realized that we couldn’t plan and design a building to one client and not the other. We conducted patient focus groups to advise us on what they wanted to see in our new building. Not only did we consult with them before we started, but we also showed them plans as we developed them to allow for feedback throughout the entire process.

We underwent a similar process internally, with our nursing staff and our physicians. We created internal focus groups, and we consulted with them throughout, as well. I think that those meetings were essential to the success of the project.    

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Project Summary
  • Completion Date: January 2012
  • Owner: North Shore LIJ Health System
  • Management Company: Stantec
  • Architecture: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
  • Design Partner: Mustafa K. Abadan, FAIA
  • Managing Director: Mark Regulinski, AIA
  • Director, Health+Science: Paul Whitson, AIA
  • Project Designer: Rob Rothblatt, AIA
  • Project Manager: Carmelo Crisafulli, AIA
  • Technical Coordinator: Rashid Saxton, AIA
  • Project Team: Justin Huang, Wendy Lam, Leah Nanpei, Anthony Treu, Kathryn Dyer, Kishel John, Thomas Bayer, Robert Wagner, Herb Lynn, Frank Ruggiero, Bill Sarama
  • Interior Design: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP; plus Judy Betts, IIDA; Lauren Kosson; Cynthia Mirbach; Cindy Meade
  • Contracting: Lend Lease (Bovis)
  • MEP Engineering: BR+A (Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers)
  • Structural Engineering: WSP Cantor Seinuk
  • Lighting: Susan Brady Lighting Design
  • Landscape: Thomas Balsley Associates
  • Graphics: Lebowitz/Gould
  • Furniture Dealer: AFD Contract Furniture
  • Photography: © Eduard Hueber/Arch Photo, Inc.; courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
  • Total Building Area: 300,000 sq. ft.