Project category: New construction (completed June 2005)

Chief administrator: Richard Mable, Vice-President, (610) 988-9497

Firm: Ballinger, (215) 446-0900

Design team: Louis A. Meilink, Jr., AIA, ACHA, Principal-in-Charge; Eric W. Swanson, AIA, Design Principal; Thomas Parr, Project Manager; Helen Joo, IIDA, Interior Designer (Ballinger); Stuart Appel, Landscape Design (Wells Appel Land Strategies); Helen Diemer, Lighting Design (The Lighting Practice)

Photography: Tom Crane; Jeffrey Totaro

Total building area (sq. ft.): 368,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $313

Total construction cost (excluding land): $115,000,000

The Reading Hospital and Medical Center (TRHMC) has been synonymous with high-quality, compassionate medical care for more than 130 years and is recognized as a leading healthcare system in the state of Pennsylvania. By the mid-1990s, however, the facilities and infrastructure at TRHMC were not only showing their age but, more importantly, were severely restricting the hospital's ability to keep pace with modern medicine and its delivery.

Of the 1.5 million square feet on campus dedicated to hospital-based services, three-quarters were at least 30 years old. Renovation was too expensive, and redevelopment was limited by original design. Concurrently, a fast-growing population in Berks County and the purchase, consolidation, and closure of one of the three local hospitals in the area further contributed to capacity strain. These issues necessitated dramatic rethinking of TRHMC's 2,000,000-sq.-ft., 38-acre campus.

“Patient and Family-focused Care”—this is how TRHMC describes itself. As it undertook the massive Patient Care Center, the mission was very clear: accommodate the needs of patients and their support groups via information, respite, and education; treat the patient, not only the disease; give patients ability to continue with life (computer and phone access, business center, and social center); and exhibit cultural sensitivity with formal and informal social interaction.

Ballinger undertook and completed its third-generation Campus Redevelopment Master Plan, which became the guiding force for the undertaking of this project, a seven-story addition to the existing hospital. After months of intensive programming, planning, and concept design, Ballinger responded with the 368,000-sq.-ft. Patient Care Center to address and resolve major campus issues.

The clinical structure expands and integrates critical services that were landlocked in the existing campus and allows the hospital to replace and upgrade a large complement of inpatient beds to better serve the growing population. The building serves as the heart of the campus redevelopment, knitting together disparate, fragmented programs and disjointed site circulation, while strengthening patient care in a warm, inviting atmosphere that provides the most advanced medical technologies. The redevelopment program allows for the integration of emergency, cancer, and heart care services while offering space for future development.