A Community in Need
Prior to completion of St. Anthony Hospital, the region represented the largest population center in Washington State without a community hospital. As a result, more than 3,500 emergencies and 4,000 patients requiring overnight care traveled outside of the area for treatment annually. The new 80-bed, 250,000 SF full service hospital in Gig Harbor addresses the need for critical healthcare services within this growing region.
Context and History
As one of the few places on the west coast where the forest truly meets the sea, the regional culture boasts a rich Native American and maritime history set against a backdrop of wooded forests, panoramic landscapes, and views to the water. Design of the St. Anthony Hospital celebrates and weaves these unique attributes together to provide a spatial experience reflective of the community that emphasizes the connection between nature, health and well-being.
A Walk in the Woods
The natural beauty of the wooded forests surrounding the hospital, and the connection between nature and a patients journey from sickness back to health, became key themes in development of the design. Borrowing inspiration from Robert Frosts classic poem A Road Not Taken, the team identified the characteristics and experiences that define a walk in the woods. Concepts such as exploration, silent reflection, moments of pause, and visual connectivity between interior and exterior landscapes emerged as strong design fundamentals.
These desired experiences were then translated into a set of design strategies that were applied to interior-exterior relationships. Terms such as clearing, glade, and filtering of light described the relationship between the interior and exterior environments throughout the hospital including treatments for views, landscape design, and interior space planning which in turn drove material selection, lighting design and room layout.
As such, the building is nestled into the greenfield site embracing a central healing garden visible from all main public spaces. The layout of interior spaces and wayfinding are driven by views to the outside, providing a natural sense of orientation around a central healing garden. Direct views of the healing garden from public areas offer visual respite with seating extending onto a patio for patients, visitors and staff to enjoy the peaceful garden environment from the inside and outdoors.
The hospital layout maximizes access to windows for staff, family and patient areas including views to the wooded landscape from all patient rooms, staff lounges, and nurse stations. Panels of glass in the central core are strategically located to provide views of nature. The upper floors overlook a canopy of green trees and corridors in the surgery units have unobstructed views, providing daylight and creating a moment of pause for nurses and hospital staff. Elements of nature are further reflected on the interior by back-lit translucent acrylic wall panels containing natural grasses, wood slat acoustical ceiling treatments, and dome light fixtures that simulate skylights.
Community Reflective Design
The design reflects thoughtful, elegant and diligent representation of elements significant to the local community inspired by interpretations of nature in the Pacific Northwest and the regions valued Native American and maritime history.
As such, entry canopies reference the curvature of a ships hull; blown glass pendant fixtures represent glass floats used by commercial fisherman in the past; wood clad reception desks mimic the wood planks used on piers and fishing boats; terrazzo floors designed to imitate water lapping against a shoreline; and up-lighting of exterior architectural columns suggest the guidance and security of a lighthouse beacon. An art program features work from local artists in patient rooms, public spaces and areas throughout the hospital including wood carvings made from naturally fallen trees on the Peninsula; a 15-foot long canoe carved from cedar, mahogany, and spruce; and a life-size cast-bronze sculpture of St. Anthony of Padua for whom the new hospital is named created by a Gig Harbor resident and artist.
Further, application of evidence-based design principals, incorporation of cutting-edge medical technologies, clear functional organization, and design for long-term flexibility enables for the highest level of healthcare.
Site Integration and Preservation
Integrating a hospital, medical office building, and parking on a densely vegetated, 30-acre greenfield site with steep grade issues posed a set of complex access, orientation, and sustainable design challenges. Project successes include:
Conservation of three natural wetlands and a salmon stream.
Preservation of natural landscaping on more than 50 of the property.
Replanting of disturbed areas with indigenous plants.
Organization of a pre-groundbreaking plant harvesting event to remove vegetation from development areas, keep native plants within the region, and strengthen ties with local community.
Terraced-grade design solution allows the hospital campus to function as an extension of the landscape, integrate nearby residential development, and accommodate a power line with 200 foot setbacks bisecting the site.
Inclusion of a green buffer along the site perimeter reduces visual and acoustical pollution.
Nature trails throughout the hospital campus adjoin with bike parking, transit stops, an existing public pedestrian path, and a nearby park-and-ride.
A stormwater catchment system filters and returns runoff to the wetlands.