Photo credit: ©Perkins+Will, 2011; Figure 1. Exterior ground view rendering of Rush University Medical Center at the intersection of Harrison and Ashland streets in Chicago.
In this second part of a three-part series on incorporating family into the patient room, authors Hannah Jefferies and Jennifer Merchant of Perkins+Will discuss how family inclusion influenced the design at Rush University Medical Center. Patient unit and room design with family in mind The Rush University Medical Center’s new hospital building is a 14-story, 806,000-square-foot building that incorporates a five-story curvilinear bed tower on top of a clinically focused building base, which houses surgical, diagnostic, and therapeutic services. The iconic butterfly shape of the bed tower is truly the result of an “inside-out” approach to design, in which the interior functions and delivery of patient care helped influence the shape of the building. According to Dr. Anthony J. Perry, MD, clinical transformation officer at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, "We have created patient care units with natural work flows for the staff that keep them in close proximity to the patients. We feel this is key to helping patients and families feel connected to their staff and safe in our environment. In doing this, we also have worked to maintain local and functional spaces near the patient rooms where staff can interact with each other to maintain mentoring relationships amongst staff that are also critical to their ongoing development and job satisfaction." The 304 acute and critical care patient rooms in the bed tower are private, acuity-adaptable, standardized, and same-handed to help reduce staff error and increase patient safety. According to Lou Bunker-Hellmich, “The repetitive actions performed in standardized patient rooms are thought to reduce cognitive burden on staff and, consequently, reduce errors (from both latent conditions and active failures), especially in life-threatening or emergency situations" (Bunker-Hellmich, 2010). Also, the rooms are planned as neighborhoods to encourage efficient interaction between the medical staff and visiting family members. Each floor houses two identical units that are subsequently broken down into two neighborhoods (See Figure 2).
© Perkins+Will, 2011; Figure 2. Diagrams of a) a typical acute care floor plan, with its iconic butterfly shape, b) a typical acute care patient unit, and c) a typical acute care patient room, divided into the staff zone, patient zone, and family zone.

Three of the core concepts described by The Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care—information sharing, participation, and collaboration—can be seen in the floor plan of the new hospital building with the design of the resource centers, consult rooms, and nurse stations.

© Perkins+Will, 2011; Figure 3. Figure 3. Interior rendering of a family lounge, which features several resource computers for family members to find relevant medical information and research during their stay at the hospital. Don't miss Part 3 of this series for a breakdown of how the resource centers, consult rooms, and nurse stations were designed and for a more in-depth look at patient rooms. To read Part 1, please go here.

Hannah Jefferies, MFA, NCIDQ, LEED AP ID+C, EDAC, is a registered interior designer at Perkins+Will in Chicago. She can be reached at Jennifer Merchant, NCIDQ, LEED AP ID+C, EDAC, is an associate at Perkins+Will in Chicago. She can be reached at

Sources: Bunker-Hellmich, Lou, (2010). Patient Focus: Developments in Inpatient Unit Design. Health Facilities Management, March 2010, 26-29.