Morris Hospital in Morris, Illinois, presented the Birthing Suites to its public and patients with one goal in mind: to provide the finest possible environment for a new life to be brought into the world. The design team's mission was to create an evidence-based design that fostered a healing and supportive environment through the use of sound, light, warmth, comfort, and privacy.

A curved, cantilevered steel and limestone canopy is where the journey begins. The addition creates a new architectural image for the hospital that is contemporary and expressive. The soothing sound of a granite water fountain fills the two-story volume of the dynamic, transformed lobby. The gentle curve of the exterior glass wall and the warmth of the light-filled connecting corridor beckon patients toward the Birthing Suites. An expectant mother and her family arrive at their destination without experiencing the feeling of being in a “hospital” environment.

The single-story addition is an LDRP model with a Level II nursery. The underlying theme for the Birthing Suites is to foster family-oriented and staff-friendly settings for the birthing experience. The design supports decentralized nursing work areas and offers a warm, hospitality-style aesthetic. Natural light is incorporated through corridor-length clerestories, carefully positioned windows, and full-height walls of glazing. The circulation enables easy wayfinding and increased staff efficiencies.

The hospital has realized its vision: to provide a state-of-the-art facility that embraces the traditional values that its newest community members deserve.
Design Group

Project category: Addition (completed December 2003)

Chief administrator: Brian D. Jepson, COO, (815) 942-8244

Firm: DesignGroup, (614) 255-0515

Design team: Theresa Whillock, Manager, Family Birthing Suites (Morris Hospital); Michael Bongiorno, Project Designer (DesignGroup); Jim Wilson, HVAC (Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers, Inc.); Jeff Peterson, Field Supervisor (Pepper Construction Company); Stephen Metz, Structural Engineering (Shelley Metz Baumann Hawk, Inc.); Connie Coultrap, Interior Design Consultant (Connie Coultrap)

Photography: DesignGroup; George Lambros, Lambros Photography, Inc.

Total building area (sq. ft.): 15,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $276

Total construction cost (excluding land): $4,135,000