Designing a 60-bed facility for efficient expansion to 300 beds was the challenge facing the architects for The Villages Regional Hospital. The client projected the eventual expansion over the next 8 to 10 years. Many aspects—from minimizing demolition to sizing utility pipes to column footings—had to be considered for this future expansion.

The design solution allows ancillary services to be expanded in place on the constrained site. The anchor clinical services, such as the ER, Surgery, and Imaging, are located for an ideal internal relationship. These critical adjacencies will not be compromised during growth, as the design allows for the compact footprint to expand vertically and in three directions horizontally without shutting down existing operations. To respect the scale and fabric of the community's Spanish architecture, the expansion can be accomplished without exceeding five stories.

As the anchor of a self-contained medical complex, the hospital serves the retirement community of The Villages, home to more than 30,000 senior residents in North Central Florida. The complex also contains a wellness center and a medical office building. Each component, connected with a landscaped wellness garden, is a freestanding facility with its own storefront.

Significant staffing economies are designed into the hospital's layout. The registration area is centrally located to serve general admissions and emergency cases, allowing a smaller complement of staff for both areas. Decentralized nursing stations eliminate extensive trips to and from a large central station. A support-services hub for specialized department managers provides work space for all management, rather than having redundant support staff in separate departments.

To create a healing, hospitable environment, special attention has been given to accommodating family members with sofa sleepers in patient rooms, a separate lounge and sleeping rooms in two suites, and family sitting rooms at the end of patient corridors. Patient equipment is concealed by cabinetry so as not to overwhelm patients and family members.

Project category: New construction (completed July 2002)

Chief administrator: Terry Upton, President, (352) 753-6900

Firm: Earl Swensson Associates, Inc., (615) 329-9445

Design team: Richard L. Miller, FAIA, President, Design Principal; Sam W. Burnette, AIA, Senior Project Designer; Todd A. Hilbert, AIA, Project Director; Tom V. Bauman, Interior Designer (Earl Swensson Associates, Inc.); Tracy Mathews, Interior Designer, VP, Design Division Director (The Villages)

Photography: © Scott McDonald, Hedrich Blessing

Total building area (GSF): 106,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $176.41

Total cost (excluding land): $18,700,000