The Cornell University Health Services Facility UHSF creates a new model for campus health care by fully integrating physical and behavioral health programs and promoting them as an integral part of student life. Supporting wellness, engaging students in their care, and enhancing the physical environment are the core principles of the design solution.
The UHSF marks a departure from traditional ambulatory care environments with its thorough and seamless integration of physical and mental health services and its emphasis on cultivating ongoing, non-episodic relationships with students and staff by encouraging use of the building outside of regular appointments. The building plan fully integrates mental and physical health services, advancing a holistic approach aimed at making care easy to navigate for students.
The building site lies at the gateway to Ho Plazathe heavily trafficked student services corridor. The design creates a welcoming image, capitalizes on pedestrian traffic, optimizes the landscape, and creates a visual relationship with the existing context.
The L-shape configuration responds to similarly organized buildings along Ho Plaza with two bars running east-west and north-south that house Integrated Health Services modules and administration/education space, respectively. The volumes intersect at the northeast corner, where the main entrance is located. A translucent tower on the south side takes its cue from towers across the campus and signifies the entrance to Ho Plaza.
Transparency at the entrances and circulation pathways entices visitors in and provides easy access. Interior spaces are designed to be inviting and inclusive, efficient and responsive, comfortable and confidential. Patient/visitor waiting areas and access are located parallel to a Rock Garden and to Ho Plaza, providing natural light and views. The design leverages the topography of the site by providing green roof terraces on the buildings south side, outdoor respites adjacent to waiting areas, and access to the Rock Garden. A new pedestrian circulation path introduced through the building provides a year-round connection between Libe Slope and Ho Plaza and offers opportunities for impromptu interactions.
Unlike most health care facilities, the UHSF features operable windows and vents that enhance the physical connection between the indoor waiting areas and the ambient sounds of the Rock Garden. Colored glass planes create a warm visual effect for the long winter months associated with the Ithaca region.