Project category: New construction (completed March 2005)

Chief administrator: Anne Klawiter, President and CEO, (608) 342-4701

Firm: Marshall Erdman & Associates, (608) 218-6486

Design team: Ed Anderson, Project Director; Gene Wells, Senior Hospital Planner; John Ford, Designer; John Stephan, Project Architect; Aaron White, Interior Designer; Dave Anderson, Project Principal

Photography: David Nevala Photography; Jess Smith/Photosmith

Total building area (sq. ft.): 138,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $196

Total construction cost (excluding land): $27,000,000

Located in southwestern Wisconsin, Platteville is a rural area hugged by auburn hills filled with limestone; it's been home to generations of miners, and the community has a proud affinity for its land and heritage. In the midst of a growth spurt, it became apparent that the area needed to reexamine its healthcare services.

Southwest Health Center (SHC), the sole community hospital in the area, was trying to keep up in an outdated facility with no room for expansion. It was losing patients to nearby city hospitals and suffering from misconceptions about its quality of care.

The new 25-bed, two-OR hospital and integrated MOB have changed all that.

SHC is perfectly sited on a small plateau overlooking expansive fields and farmland. Thanks to amber brick and horizontal bandings that echo limestone striations, it feels like an organic extension of the earth.

Metal trim, oversized windows, and angular lines contrast with these naturalistic elements, speaking to technology and a futuristic vision. The combination communicates to patients that SHC is both rooted in the community's past and capable of providing high-quality, high-tech healthcare.

The main entrance to the MOB section is predominantly glass, glowing at night like a beacon to spotlight the hospital's location and engender a sense of security. The dynamic interior is a squared-off vertical shaft soaked in natural light. It opens up space, acts as a wayfinding device, and suggests a mine shaft—or, more accurately, the inverse of one.

The mine allusion is repeated in the hospital's entrance area. Intersecting “tunnels” are delineated by slate and wood beams while backlit, overhead glass panels create a dramatic focal point for the comforting and cozy space.

Hospital waiting areas overlook the lobby, buoying visitors with abundant daylight and air. Refined furnishings and ample artwork in SHC give it a sense of hospitality, eliminating any trace of a sterile, institutional feel.

Large inpatient rooms, all private, repeat the theme and provide ample space for visitors. Oversized windows offer stunning views, while attractive furnishings and concealed medical equipment reduce stress and promote well-being.

SHC also features innovative flex space. For instance, the ambulance bay doubles as a decontamination unit, and 10 beds and an OR can be added without expanding the footprint, which is also easily enlarged. SHC's designers helped the facility become an anchor in its community and reinforce a sense of pride and respect for the unique history of this evolving town.