Magazine

Drawing Meaning from a Mission

Expressing the mission of University Hospitals, Cleveland, in a unique parking garage at the heart o

By Christopher P. Trotta, AIA

"Conceal the cars,” said leaders of the University Hospitals Case Medical Center (UHCMC), Cleveland, in their initial direction to designers of the new patient parking Garage. Architects responded to that directive—and so much more—in designing a high-quality, meaningful contribution to the UHCMC campus. Placed at the heart of the UHCMC campus to provide adjacencies to important clinical services, the new University Hospitals Patient Parking Garage is a tangible expression of University Hospitals’ mission: “To Heal. To Teach. To Discover.” As a result, the garage will serve not merely as a place to park, but as a significant contributor to patient satisfaction for patients, families and other visitors of UHCMC.
The six-story, 800-space garage is one of the projects under the University Hospitals’ (UH) Vision 2010 strategic plan, which called for investments of more than $1 billion over five years. The plan reaffirms a strong commitment to the UHCMC campus with new facilities and the expansion of services, along with new construction and enhancements to the health system’s suburban ambulatory centers. Major UHCMC facilities projects at the Euclid Ave. campus include a new Cancer Hospital and a new Center for Emergency for Medicine (CEM) to expand on the clinical services provided in the campus’ existing facilities.
As with all of the Vision 2010 projects, community engagement, contextual cohesiveness, and the synergy evoked by the other Vision 2010 projects guided the design and architectural response of the parking garage. Lerner Tower provides the signature UHCMC backdrop, while the new CEM and Cancer Hospital provide a fitting framework for the garage’s design composition.
A Mission Cast in Stone, Metal and Glass
UHCMC focus on patient and family centered experience was the prime driver of the garage’s fundamental design concept, which clearly provides a unique arrival experience. The Array Healthcare Facilities Solutions design team translated the emotional concepts of “welcoming,” “embracing” and “caring” into design through the symbolism of the architecture. The underlying concept sketch figuratively illustrates arms reaching out to embrace and welcome a patient, signifying the caring and compassion UH caregivers express to patients and their families.
Unlike the design of the typical garage, Array’s architectural expression connotes life, motion and energy. Typical garages are static in their general nature, and serve one primary function: to house cars. Because of its location at the very heart of the UHCMC campus, the garage design became the symbolic “front door,” which physically manifests the hospital system’s mission.
The signature perforated metal ribbons enveloping the parking structure are key features to the successful execution of the design and translation of the mission. The east-facing metallic ribbons reach out from Lerner Tower to Euclid Avenue and extend a healing message to the community. The north-facing metallic ribbons extend from UH Case Medical Center to University Hospitals’ Drive and emphasize the collaboration and significance of the teaching component at UHCMC.
Where these two powerful statements converge at the Northwest corner of the structure is the iconic representation of confluence of the client’s major tenets of collaboration, and discovery. At night, the radiance of the human spirit is represented by a colored back light that accentuates this artistic corner. Colors cycle through a pre-selected range of hues and timing sequences. This juxtaposition of structure and light provides a warm and welcoming glow to a dynamic focal point at the front door to the campus, as well as a calming backdrop to a potentially stressful patient experience.
This feature also signifies the diversity of the community served by UH, and it represents the inclusion initiatives that are driven by one of the health system’s core values: “We embrace diversity in people, thought, experiences and perspectives.”
Integrating New and Existing Architecture
Additional architectural features and materials of the parking garage were specifically selected to integrate the existing hospital buildings and the new vocabulary of the University Hospitals Cancer Hospital and CEM into one comprehensive solution. The three elevator and stair towers of the new garage take their cue from Lerner Tower, a late 1990’s-era facility and tallest facility on campus. Lerner Tower is directly in the background to the garage; its tall presence and play of rectangular edges against the skyline. Brick, cast stone, and concrete details and colors match similarly to the existing Lakeside Building and Mather Pavilion. Glass, metal panels and curtain wall selections are derived from the new Cancer Hospital and CEM.
The parking garage serves as the keystone to the campus from arrival, way-finding, and orientation perspectives. Thus the three elevator and stair towers are well-lit, while the remainder of the garage has lower-level lighting that is visible at night as a muted glow through the perforations in the metal panels. The physical connection of pedestrian access to all three of these facilities is addressed by on-grade walkways, a sky bridge and a future tunnel system.
High Quality Standards
It was essential that the parking garage complement the architectural context of the University Circle District, which comprises significant educational, medical, civic and cultural institutions. In particular, the Euclid Corridor Design Committee, which oversees all the design for the corridor spanning from downtown Cleveland to University Circle, has set high quality standards for all new projects in the corridor. This region also has many plans on the drawing board for new retail, residential and entertainment development.
At most medical centers, leaders have sought to move parking garages to the periphery to make way for new and expanded clinical facilities. Leaders of UH consciously placed the new University Hospitals Patient Parking Garage at the heart of the UHCMC campus as a key component of their initiative to put the patient first. They believe that the convenience, aesthetic quality and welcoming experience fostered by the new parking facility are integral to their brand identity. Moreover, they fully expect that the investment they have made will be reflected in high HCAHPS ratings and Press Ganey scores.
Architects listened carefully to UH leaders as they delved deeper under the initial directive, “Conceal the cars.” In drawing meaning from a mission, the designers have expressed the identity of University Hospitals in a unique parking garage at the heart of the UHCMC campus.
Christopher P. Trotta, AIA, is Vice President / Design Principal, of Array Healthcare Facilities Solutions (HFS). He may be reached at 216.292.7950 or ctrotta@arrayhfs.com.
An Architect for Array, Brian Pawlowski, AIA, LEED AP, EDAC,
created all renderings for the project and played a supporting role in the design and technical process. He may be reached at 216.292.7950 or bpawlowski@arrayhfs.com.

Sidebar:
• Size: 6 stories
• Capacity: 800 spaces
• 3 Elevator Banks / Stairwells
• Cost: $25 million
• Design Architect / Architect of Record: Array HFS, Beachwood, Ohio
• Design Peer Review: OWPp / Cannon Design, Chicago
• Construction Manager: Donley’s Construction, Cleveland
• Functional Planning and Structural Consultant: Desman Associates, Cleveland
• MEP Engineering: Fredrick, Fredrick & Heller, Cleveland
• Civil Engineer: Michael Benza & Associates, Cleveland
• Skin Structural Design: Barber & Hoffman, Cleveland
• Way-finding Consultants: Exit / AGS, Philadelphia
• Lighting Designer: Arts & Science Lighting, Cleveland

Article Abstract from October, 2009




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