The scope of this project involved building an expanded Day Surgery and creating a new Entry, Chapel, and “front door” image for a rather dated 1970s hospital. To make the complex feel more open and inviting, glass and light are used together to create a sense of precision and technologic sophistication while lending a feeling of softness, illusiveness, and spirituality. These qualities were deemed appropriate for a building where the most modern medical equipment is employed alongside nurturing and compassion, and where scientific exactness coexists with human emotion and vulnerability.

A long, thin volume faced with translucent glass is strung along the north face of the new building, drawing bright, cheerful light into recovery rooms without sacrificing visual privacy. Because of the slope of the site, much of the new surgery center would have been deprived of natural light without this device. At night, the glass volume is lit from within lending a safe, glowing presence at the front door of the 24-hour complex. Although tied visually to the original hospital by low brick walls and by shared rhythms and proportions, the new building offers a bold new image for the medical center.

Inside, the new Day Surgery Center is compact, orderly, and efficient. Recovery rooms are organized in radial suites around nursing stations with easy visual access to each patient bed. Routes to surgery suites are direct and straightforward. Although the project required additions to existing surgical facilities, the new and old spaces create a well-integrated and indivisible whole. Lobbies and waiting areas are logically arranged so that the processes of arriving, waiting, and departing are as simple and intuitive as possible for day surgery patients and their caregivers.

The new Entry and Chapel are flooded with natural light and continue the theme introduced on the building's fa¸ade of translucent glass lit from without and within. Skylights, clerestory windows, and large expanses of clear glass connect the building to a private garden. All these features serve to integrate the inside and outside. Granite floors, wood paneling in protected locations, and the backlit glass contribute to a sense of warmth and elegance while providing durability and ease of cleaning and maintenance.

Although relatively small in size, this new project has transformed the external perception of Seton Medical Center and has created a bright new landmark in its community.

Project category: New construction & Remodel/Renovation (completed June 2005)

Chief administrator: John Brindley, President and CEO, (512) 324-1861

Firm: PageSoutherlandPage, LLP, (512) 472-6721

Design team: Kregg Elsass, AIA, Medical Designer; Matthew F. Kreisle III, AIA, Principal-in-Charge; Lawrence W. Speck, FAIA, Lead Designer; Peter Hoffmann, AIA, Architectural Designer; Karla Jackson, Interior Designer

Photography: © Tim Griffith

Total building area (sq. ft.): 110,000 (new); 75,000 (renovation)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $169 (total)

Total construction cost (excluding land): $31,250,000 (total)