Project category: New construction (completed January 2005)

Chief administrator: Professor Wang Ling Tai, President, (008) 6-21-53821650

Firms: SmithGroup, (202) 974-0815; CNA Group, (008) 6-21-33025306

Design team: John Michael Currie, AIA, FRSH, Principal-in-Charge, Senior Medical Planner; Michael Kang, AIA, Design Principal; Susan Beggerrow, Medical Planner; Peter Humphrey, Project Architect (SmithGroup); Zhu Yijun, Project Manager (CNA Group)

Photography: Mick Ryan Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 882,641

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $179

Total construction cost (excluding land): $158,000,000

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may seem exotic or strange to the Western world, but in fact it is based on a centuries-old philosophy, as well as an exceptionally rich empirical tradition. TCM, a system of diagnosis and healthcare that has evolved over 3,000 years, is based on a holistic view of the human body—encompassing mind, body, and spirit—and its integral relationship to the universe.

By the 20th century, TCM had fallen out of favor as China adopted the Western approach to medicine, but in recent years, TCM has regained its importance in Chinese culture and has attracted the growing respect of the international healthcare community. Although the Western system still dominates in modern China, TCM is practiced alongside orthodox Western medicine, and medical students may major in either system.

The Shuguang Hospital will, for the first time in China, combine the teaching and practice of traditional Chinese and Western medicine in a new state-of-the-art hospital campus. The design of the 720-bed hospital embodies multiple concepts taken from traditional Chinese medical practice and spiritual ideas, as well as emerging concepts of healing gardens and other elements of therapeutic environments, in a technically advanced facility. Two additional buildings for infectious disease and rehab patients complete the site.

The guiding design principle is the concept of the body as interpreted by TCM: a garden that needs continuous nurturing. The equilibrium of nature to manmade—yin and yang—and the five elements of TCM (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) are key elements in the design. Balance and harmony are achieved by preserving and enhancing the innate beauty of the site. Because the hand plays a central role in the TCM diagnostic process, the crescent shape of the Main Hospital represents, in abstract, an “open hand.” The transparency of the fa¸ade allows abundant natural light in both public and clinical spaces and is symbolic of this progressive, forward-moving country.

The entire campus is designed to reflect traditional Chinese gardens and architecture. A natural watercourse, which flows through the site into an adjacent canal, has been enhanced to form a parklike setting for patients and staff. The building form, although large, is designed to be welcoming and of human scale, enhanced by multiple interior and rooftop gardens and extensive site landscaping. The result, although technically advanced, gives a sense of serenity that infuses the entire hospital.