Project category: New construction (completed December 2002)

Chief administrator: James J. Mulvihill, CEO, (215) 440-3151

Firm: HLM Design, (215) 564-9977

Design team: Mike Arnold, AIA, Senior Vice-President; Andrea Daniels, Senior Associate (Granary Associates Architects, LP); Andre Zlotnicki, AIA, AICP, Principal Designer, Project Manager; Jeffrey E. Griest, AIA, Project Architect; Brad A. Earl, AIA, Principal-in-Charge (HLM Design)

Photography: Tom Crane Photography

Total building area (GSF): 159,000 (new); 133,750 (renovation)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $232.13

Total cost (excluding land): $42,000,000

Wills Eye Hospital is one of the few freestanding ophthalmologic hospitals in the country. Most similar facilities exist as a department within a multispecialty institution. Within the 130,000-square-foot, eight-floor addition constructed atop the existing structure, Wills Eye Hospital houses an ambulatory surgery center, medical offices, an education component with classrooms, and a state-of-the-art auditorium and small research facility. It is essentially an outpatient facility; patients will remain a maximum of 23 hours after surgery. Floors 9 through 13 are devoted to outpatient physician practices.

The major challenge was to put a hospital in the sky; a major concern of physicians was visibility. What resulted was a signature addition to an existing, seven-story, mixed-use building on a tight, urban site that would not only be innovative, flexible, and inspirational but also would serve the hospital well into this century.

To facilitate patient access to this “hospital in the sky” in a congested downtown location, a dedicated patient drop-off was designed at the street level on the plaza located off the street. Additional patient arrival was planned for the top floor of the parking garage, where a porte cochere was created for outpatient surgery.

The building was designed with patient convenience and easy orientation in mind. Patient waiting areas are located on each floor along the bowing north façade, with floor-to-ceiling glazing overlooking an impressive skyline of the city.