The new 140,000-square-foot Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Emergency Care Center at Ocean Medical Center (OMC) in Brick, N.J., was designed by WHR Architects. The ED occupies the first floor of a new three-story hospital building that deploys the material palette of the existing campus—brick, precast, metal, and glass—to create a more contemporary aesthetic. The building features a bold vertical marker in the form of a wing sail that serves as a new entry identity for the campus and as a wayfinding beacon at night.

On the ground plane, two long, horizontal bars intersect in a cruciform plane that created the opportunity for two separate drop-offs, one for patients and another for ambulances on the other side. The bisecting forms also create space for an outdoor respite for visitors just off the entrance. The expansive use of glass brings natural light into the building while the warm wood of the exterior soffit extends into the lobby to define a welcoming arrival experience.

The interior palette features natural materials and soft aqua/green shades to create a hospitality sensibility for the environment.  A long wall paneled in wood grounds the space in the main lobby.  Behind the reception desk, a modular art panel with a water-like pattern aims to enhance a sense of calm.  Furnishings throughout reflect OMC’s desire to provide a comfortable, non-institutional setting, yet all pieces were selected to hold up to the high traffic of a busy ED.  In the smaller, sub-waiting areas, low wood ceilings, patterns on the wood floor, and the use of indirect lighting help to create comfortable spaces for families while aiding wayfinding.

The quiet marine palette, soft lighting from the wave-form sconces, and layered woods continue into the nurses’ stations, where the curving aqua soffit and cove lighting define the space. At the pediatric nurses’ station, the same design elements receive a punch of bright color, including a small wave of aqua wood flooring.  All of the nursing areas benefit from large skylights that bring natural light deep into the interior of the building.

Natural light in the patient rooms comes from high clerestory windows that offer views to the sky while protecting patient privacy. Rooms offer comfortable seating for visitors, including sleeper sofas for parents in the pediatric rooms. The repeated use of colors and materials in new applications carry the theme of the facility into the heart of the ED.