Architect: Flad Architects
Owner: UW Health
Contractor: J.H. Findorff & Son, Inc.
UW Health at The American Center is a new 42-acre health and wellness campus. With a strong focus on preventive care and wellness, the campus is the new home to UW Health’s orthopedic practice, as well as providing high-quality ambulatory, clinic, and emergency services.
The overarching vision for the campus was to create a wellness community, supportive of the healing process and fostering continued healthy lifestyles. The campus was designed to be easily navigable, walkable, and incorporate transparency to healthy activities. The new environment presents an atmosphere and experience that inspires patients, family, and staff alike to the benefits of healthy lifestyles.
The project site offered unique opportunities to preserve open space, views, and other natural features. The desire to preserve mature trees and a wooded knoll created a need to strategically place building structures and the helipad to avoid conflict. In order to optimize the project’s final build-out potential, future phases were taken into account when incorporating the site’s natural features.
Understandable and intuitive wayfinding was essential in creating an exceptional experience for patients, visitors, and staff. One main point of arrival was created for visitors by means of a teardrop court and a focal healing garden. The 280-foot long entrance canopy is curved with multiple columns to match the center wing’s curvature and is cantilevered off steel columns in both directions, designed to facilitate the drop-off sequence and provide both inpatient and outpatient entries. Between the two entries is a dedicated interior promenade that becomes the primary building circulation. This welcoming two-story promenade features a full-height curtain wall glazing that bathes the lobby area in natural light and serves as a focal point for the entire facility. Sports and wellness programs such as the gymnasium, demonstration kitchen, and pool are placed along the arrival court to increase visibility through the transparency of the building and encourage healthy activity.
The design vision was to create opportunities for accessible outdoor spaces and to take advantage of any opportunity to bring natural light and views into the building. Other elements such as natural colors and materials, artwork, and comfortable lighting further support reduced stress and anxiety. The interior design and selection of materials are compatible with the exterior building and site design to provide a cohesive and seamless whole health design. The connecting passageways between various departments are wide and take advantage of natural light whenever possible, creating an airy and dynamic aesthetic.
Central to the entire design process was the commitment to a completely patient-focused care model. Many areas within the building were designed with outward viewing opportunities. The built environment and landscape design provide relief, respite, and easy pedestrian-level access. All inpatient rooms have a view of the carefully preserved tree line and pastoral landscape or of the beautifully landscaped green roof on the southwest end of the building.
The building’s modern exterior is made up of a combination of natural-colored building materials to highlight various components of the facility. Warm-colored terra cotta cladding is used throughout on the lower levels and the east and west vertical building cores. An indigenous gray limestone base wraps the entire facility and white acid-etched architectural precast panels accent the upper floors of all three wings. Expanses of curtainwalls are used to provide a high level of transparency and connection between interior and exterior environments.
The interior design complements the exterior architectural features and materials. The use of large expressions of clean and modern materials such as terrazzo, glass, metals, and wood veneered walls and ceilings reinforces the high-technology procedures to be performed in the new facility. Warm wood tones and soft hues of sky blue accents create a relaxing calm environment.
Design elements were configured to create a comfortable, inviting, and dynamic rooftop garden adjacent to the dining facility. Decoratively curved concrete walls provide additional seating for diners to separate walking paths throughout the garden and green roof, backing up the stone landscape walls. At almost an acre in size, a green roof and associated landscaping was designed as an integral part of the facility’s user experience and highlights UW Health’s commitment to sustainable design and construction.
Photos: Hedrich Blessing Photography and Philip Prowse Photography