The opening of the new 2.3 million-square-foot University Medical Center New Orleans in August 2015 helped restore clinical healthcare services to New Orleans and formed the cornerstone of a new medical corridor, all of which were lost during Hurricane Katrina.

The project, submitted by NBBJ, earned an honorable mention in the 2016 Healthcare Design Showcase.

The $754 million project includes three patient towers with 424 beds, a diagnostic and treatment building with conference and research facilities in the center of campus, and an adjoining clinic.

Despite its size, a number of custom touches were employed to honor its New Orleans heritage and connect the community hospital with the population it serves while creating a healing environment. For example, a New Orleans map chandelier hangs above the central lobby, which serves as a middle point between the hospital and clinic wings.

Custom laminate graphics in the patient and exam rooms and photographs in the public waiting area and corridors honor the city’s culture and design style, while French Quarter-inspired magnified ironwork patterns appear on backlit perforated metal walls in the corridors.

“Excellent response to the context and culture of New Orleans,” a Showcase juror commented.

In addition to its pleasing aesthetic, the project houses several resiliency features, including a glass façade that’s capable of withstanding hurricane-strength winds. The emergency department can expand or contract depending on need and all of the hospital’s critical infrastructure, services, and supplies, including the ED, are located 22 feet above base flood elevation.

Anne DiNardo is senior editor of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at