“They all slept through the night!” Nurses on the new third-floor Cardiovascular Unit compared notes the day after the patients were transferred from the old bed tower to Penrose Hospital's new E Tower. The morning of January 10, 2005, they realized that all 36 patients in the unit had slept through the night, a testament to the success of the design.

The hospitality starts at the new main entrance. The tower looks more like a hotel than a hospital, especially considering the complimentary valet parking offered to all patients and visitors. The information desk is reminiscent of a concierge desk, where patients are greeted and directed down the registration hallways. The registration stations incorporate white noise with acoustic-panel dividers that reach completely from floor to ceiling to maintain privacy.

Curved corridors reduce the sight lines, and carpeting buffers sounds. Soft lighting, wood, and natural materials keep the atmosphere comforting and calming rather than sterile. Computerized charting stations between patient rooms enable direct observation of patients and allow greater contact between patients and nurses. Eliminating patient rooms directly across the hall from other patients keeps both units quiet and peaceful. Support services reside in the central core, with space for storage, medication, and nutrition.

The Penrose Hospital E Tower represents an advance in promoting the hospitality and customer service that many hospitals strive for. Through the use of careful design, the tower provides a welcoming and healing environment for patients, staff, and physicians alike.

Project category: Addition (completed January 2005)

Chief administrator: Rick O'Connell, Chief Executive Officer, (719) 776-5111

Firm: RTA Architects, (719) 471-7566

Design team: Margaret Gilbert, AIA, Project Manager (RTA Architects); Dave Vincent, AIA, ACHA, Associate Architect (HKS, Inc.); Ron Doolittle, Project Manager (G.E. Johnson Construction); Jean Sebben, ASID, Interior Designer (Jean Sebben Associates); Mark Jelinske, Mechanical Engineer (Cator, Ruma & Associates)

Photography: ©2005 Joel Eden Photography; ©2005 Rhonda Grimberg Douglas; ©2005 Don Jones Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 185,840

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $156

Total construction cost (excluding land): $28,964,677