Swedish Medical Center's Eastside Specialty Center doesn't look like an emergency room or feel like an emergency room, and it isn't located where most emergency rooms are. The first freestanding ER in Washington State, this project navigated regulatory hurdles yet managed to achieve the patient-centered goal of creating a “no-wait” experience. Possibly more remarkable, with the tight strictures of schedule and budget, a new planning model for ERs was born.

The 55,000-sq.-ft. project was an adaptive reuse of an existing office building requiring infrastructure and aesthetic changes to convert it to a healthcare facility. Located in Issaquah, Washington, the center includes an 18-room ER, comprehensive diagnostic imaging and lab services, and outpatient clinics for pediatrics and family medicine, and a sleep lab.

The ER and clinics are designed as an upscale, modern office with medical functions embedded in warm, inviting spaces. In keeping with the tenets of evidence-based design, natural light, space for families, and positive distractions are key elements in this healing environment. Specialty lighting in feature areas highlights cherry wood and indigo accents, as well as textural details embedded in privacy panels and glass tile set into reveals. Exam rooms are up to 40% larger than typical ER exam rooms to accommodate family members lending their support and to provide space where medical staff can perform patient evaluation, examination, and treatment.

The goal of creating a patient-centered, “no-wait” experience—tempered by other complex issues—led to the creation of a revolutionary design in care.

Project category: Conversion (completed January 2005)

Chief administrator: Richard H. Peterson, President and CEO, (206) 320-2000

Firm: Callison, (206) 623-4646

Design team: Janet Faulkner, AIA, LEED AP, Design Principal; John Jex, Senior Medical Planner; Bob Hutnik, AIA, Principal-in-Charge; Dave Owsiany, Medical Planner; Dexter Chin, Project Architect; Romi Iassudo, Interior Designer

Photography: Chris Eden, Callison

Total building area (sq. ft.): 55,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: Not released

Total construction cost (excluding land): Not released