The new Rehabilitation Center was the first project for University of North Carolina Hospitals after that organization became a Planetree Affiliate. The design sought to enhance the physical environment and support the patients’ and caregivers’ efforts. Color and texture were incorporated beyond the normal healthcare palette. The floor was opened up so that daylight could be seen across the unit. Lighting comes from multiple sources, and lighting levels vary. Patients can control both lighting and temperature.

Although this is not the trend in acute care hospitals, some semi- private rooms were provided for patients who needed additional moral support in their recovery. Offices for social workers were placed in the center to assist patients in assimilating back to their personal lives.

To further encourage staff interaction and improve patient care continuity, the nurses’ and therapists’ break/locker rooms were combined into one unit. The area was enhanced with a full kitchen and placed on an exterior wall with windows. Although meals will be provided by the Dietary Department, the center's Dining/Activity Room was equipped with a residential kitchen, so that patients or family members could prepare special meals for themselves.

Significant support spaces were provided, such as a Family Waiting area, an Education/Resource Center, a Washer/Dryer room for personal clothing, a Computer Lab, Recreational Therapy spaces, and a Transitional Living Apartment with an ADL-compliant kitchen.

The design omitted the typical long charting surfaces in favor of comfortable lounge chairs with foldout tablets. The chairs were arranged in a “living room” configuration adjacent to the nurses’ station, so that patients, families, and caregivers could discuss care strategies.

Project category: Remodel/Renovation (completed November 2003)

Chief administrator: Sharon Coulter-James, Senior Vice-President, Professional & Support Services, (919) 843-0238

Firm: Perkins & Will, (704) 343-9900

Design team: Bill Nation, Project Planner; James Godfrey, Project Principal; Ja'Maul Redmond, Project Manager (Perkins & Will); Joe Seufert, Project Manager for MEP; Mike Toth, Principal, MEP Engineering (PWI Consulting Engineers, Inc.)

Photography: © Jerry Markatos

Total building area (sq. ft.): 44,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $93

Total cost (excluding land): $4,100,000