Emergencies are one of the least desirable but most likely reasons for hospital visits, whether for oneself or family members. The staff at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, equipped with this thought and the desire to create the best emergency experience possible, engaged the design team to provide better throughput for their patients, increase their pediatric business, and provide a place of respite for their adult population.

Operationally, Swedish needed a way to get their patients out of the waiting room and into treatment spaces quickly. Patients are now sent directly to available rooms where roving admitters take histories. The design team increased the number of treatment spaces, then added four triage/admitting offices to handle admissions that could not go directly to an exam space, but could be started on other diagnostic treatments, such as X-rays.

Space was also devoted to serving the pediatric population. Five new dedicated rooms, large enough for family members, were added to the opposite side of the unit away from adult patients. The central nurses' station allows staff to serve both sides of the department easily.

Project category: New construction & Remodel/Renovation (completed October 2006)

Chief administrator: Darren Redick, Vice-President Facilities, (206) 320-3478

Firm: Clark/Kjos Architects, LLC, (503) 224-4848

Design team: Architecture/Interior Design (Clark/Kjos Architects, LLC); Mechanical Engineering (Sazan Group, Inc.); Electrical Engineering (Cierra Electrical Group, Inc.); Project Management (CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc.); Civil/Structural Engineering (Meriwether Leachman Associates, Inc.)

Photography: William Wright

Total building area (sq. ft.): 8,040

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $248

Total construction cost (excluding land): $1,997,070

Getting the public to recognize the front door of the Emergency Department was a challenge, given the limited site and access to the area. A new vertical, metal-clad space was added to emphasize the entrance while providing much-needed daylight to the waiting areas. The new space provides a warm welcome and clear direction to those looking for immediate assistance.