Project category: New construction (completed May 2005)

Chief administrator: John Linton, MD, Director, International Healthcare Center, 011-822-392-3404

Firm: Ellerbe Becket, Inc., (612) 376-2212

Design team: Mic Johnson, AIA, NCARB, Design Principal; Jeff Frush, AIA, NCARB, Project Director; Faye LeDoux, CID, Interior Project Director; Mike Kennedy, AIA, Project Designer; Mike Kinnee, RA, Medical Planner; Ken LeDoux, AIA, FASID, IIDA, Interior Design Director

Photography: Kim Yong Kwan, Photographer

Total building area (sq. ft.): 1,600,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $172

Total construction cost (excluding land): $275,000,000

Yonsei University Medical Center (YUMC) is Korea's oldest and most prestigious medical institution. Although its Seoul campus had served YUMC well, changes in healthcare delivery and technology had made it constricted, less flexible, and inwardly focused. The buildings didn't afford views to Ahn Mountain beyond, nor did they reflect an image of healthcare that was comforting and inviting.

At the campus center, the new 1,000-bed Severance Hospital establishes an identity for YUMC, unifies the campus symbolically with the mountain, and symbolizes medical technology and quality patient care.

At the project's outset, the client asked that the hospital reflect an environment of well-being, incorporate leading technology, and be worthy of drawing visitors from all over the world. The client hoped when people visited, “they would be moved to tell others.”

The project's biggest challenge was its tight site. The building initially bisected the campus. However, in Korean culture it is important not to block views and connections. By splitting the hospital with a monumental stair punctuated by gardens and water features, designers preserved the connection while creating a journey through the hospital to the mountain.

The design holistically addresses the senses. Wayfinding is innate to the architecture, not dependent on signage. Outpatient and diagnostic areas are buffered from inpatient beds by a seven-story atrium. Inpatient areas have views to the mountain and waiting areas are infused with sunlight. Color and patterns provide visual cues, and local materials reinforce cultural traditions and address sustainability.