The 2014 Healthcare Design Showcase jury tapped three projects among the 100 submitted to be recognized with an Honorable Mention award. They are each unique in their challenges, and the results of the design solutions identified by their design teams—as well as specifically what jurors appreciated in those responsesare detailed below. 

Natural beauty
Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute, Lancaster, Pa.; Submitted by Ballinger

Embracing the concept that natural elements can be catalysts for the healing process, the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute in Lancaster, Pa., is anchored by light and landscapes.

The 100,000-square-foot, $36.5 million project opened in July 2013. Its biophilic-inspired design features a concentric, continuous skylight that’s located between a central healing garden and the building’s primary circulation area, providing a visual connection to the garden on the lower level and abundant natural daylighting throughout the facility. Exam rooms and family consult areas are sited on the building’s perimeter, allowing light to filter into diagnostic spaces, too.

The institute’s repeated connections to nature are highlighted by infusion bays on the upper level with balconies overlooking adjacent treetops and a meditation pavilion where patients can gaze out floor-to-ceiling windows to a small reflecting pool.

“Use of the skylight to get daylight to the lower levels is very well done,” said one Showcase juror, while others noted the center to be “a very uplifting space” with a “gorgeous healing garden and lovely architecture.”

Additionally, the project—an expansion to an existing medical mall—sought to provide interdisciplinary care guided by the patient experience. To achieve this, the design team worked closely with end users to develop patient flows through diagnostic, consultation, and treatment areas that inspired the program and its required adjacencies—a process also well received by jurors.  

Red light
Sacred Heart Pediatric Emergency Department, Spokane, Wash.; Submitted by Mahlum

When creating a pediatric emergency department on an existing 45-acre, 2.5-million-square-foot campus, it was critical that the design developed be highly visible and uniquely recognizable for parents already under plenty of stress.

The solution found for the $18.6 million pediatric emergency department at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., is a prominent “red lantern” exterior treatment that boldly indicates its location. The building itself serves as signage and creates a clear point of arrival to the 28,000-square-foot facility that opened in January 2013. The “distinct, recognizable design feature” was applauded by jurors for this Honorable Mention project.

Another project goal was achieving community engagement in the design process, including an influential partnership with the Rypien Foundation, which supports families who are battling childhood cancer. This process shaped the overall patient experience and influenced features such as views to a nearby healing garden, an integrated local art program, and a Kids Club that provides respite space and distraction that’s staffed by community volunteers.

To streamline operations, full-scale mock-ups of exam and triage rooms were created and Lean workshops held, resulting in standardized exam rooms and distributed supply storage, as well as centralized care team zones where physicians, nurses, and other providers are collocated.

“Strong engagement by community” and “mock-ups used effectively for decision-making process” were among jurors’ remarks.

For more on this project, visit

Living color
Mercy Health West Hospital, Cincinnati; Submitted by AECOM with Mic Johnson as lead designer and Champlin Architecture

Goals for the 645,000-square-foot Mercy Health West Hospital in Cincinnati, a replacement facility that consolidated two of the provider’s aging facilities on the city’s west side, included supporting patient- and family-centered care, creating supportive staff workspaces, enhancing operational efficiency, and establishing a landmark building in the community.

The 250-bed response to this challenge includes a single-level interventional platform to improve communication and staff/patient flows, standardized rooms and floor design to support safety and efficiency, private rooms with ample family space, decentralized nursing, and plenty of access to natural light, among other features.

“Great advantage of natural views,” “well-researched program,” and “efficient, compact spaces” were among jurors’ remarks.

One of the most notable features of the building is what was achieved on its exterior. “The very simple design/appearance belies the sophisticated response to the program and site. The building wraps itself in context,” one juror commented.

The first layer of this approach is a visual connection to the community through the use of a multicolored clay tile wall system on the exterior, a nod to the area’s history in ceramics. The site itself also influenced the end product, thanks to a steep slope and location between a residential neighborhood and freeway. Zoning issues were among many challenges that inspired the eventual orientation of the site, as well as its inclusion of vast green spaces.

For more on the project, visit

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