The new 371,000-square-foot, five-story Parrish Medical Center replaces its 40-year-old, outdated predecessor that was ill configured to serve today's outpatient volume. The 210-bed replacement facility reinforces PMC's healing environment philosophy through the introduction of more private rooms than the old hospital had, circle imagery, and the organic elements of natural lighting, color, texture, and sound.

The hospital's required physical strength (designed to withstand winds up to 130 mph, allowing for the extremes of the Florida environment) is visually softened by curved details. A four-story, glass-and-steel cylinder, configured similarly to a ship's lantern, visually establishes a sense of place at the point of entry.

Overall, the lobby is elegantly simple in architectural detailing. Just beyond the reception desk, a sweeping monumental stair leads to the second level. Beyond the stair, a circular light fixture of calendered, abraded steel is suspended on almost-invisible airplane cables, appearing to float beneath the architectural circle-of-life feature and domed skylight. The total effect suggests the environs of a hotel.

The hospitality influence also contributes to functionality in the clinical spaces. Nursing control centers, located on each patient floor node where the patient wings intersect, are central command centers designed to function as patient information sources, as well as supports for day-to-day nursing duties. Family waiting areas, charge nurse offices, and team workrooms are immediately adjacent. The proximity of these spaces enhances efficiency, and the adjacency of the waiting area to the control center provides the opportunity for immediacy of communication between staff and family members.

Project category: New construction (completed October 2002)

Chief administrator: George Mikitarian, Chief Executive Officer, (321) 268-6111

Firm: Earl Swensson Associates, Inc., (615) 329-9445

Design team: Todd Robinson, AIA, Senior Designer, Principal-in-Charge; Derek Leigh, AIA, Project Architect; Abby K. Weilmuenster, IIDA, ASID, NCIDQ, Interior Designer; Tom Bauman, IIDA, NCIDQ, Interior Designer

Photography: Scott McDonald © Hedrich Blessing

Total building area (sq. ft.): 370,451

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $148

Total cost (excluding land): $54,865,000