In designing a new cardiac care center for the Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, Fla., Cannon Design worked to resolve conflicting programmatic needs and site issues. St. John’s River forms the site’s western edge, while the existing hospital and a parking garage occupy its other sides. Though the Heart Hospital houses specialty clinics for cardiac patients, it also serves as a new entry pavilion to the entire medical center.
Cannon planned the building so that it spreads outward to welcome different transportation modes—pedestrian, automobile, and helicopter—and inflects inward, creating two separate wings joined by a roof garden. Elevations facing the existing hospital complex feature an unapologetically utilitarian aesthetic worthy of their almost industrial context, while the side facing the water steps down gently in a series of layers that the architect likens to sedimentary deposits.
The Heart Hospital’s different layers allow for multiple entrances and approaches, as well as the ideal orientation of patient rooms. From the main drive, a new entry on grade leads to the emergency room loading zone, while a ramp leads up to the main public entrance. Hovering above this public entrance, a freestanding helipad transcends its utilitarian purpose and becomes an icon for the hospital.
A multi-level, glass-walled lobby slips around the building’s circumference, connecting its two wings. Its transparency creates an immediate visual connection to the roof garden, the river, and the city skyline. Patient rooms define the building’s shape, bending and folding with fluidity to maximize light and views. Unlike the all-glass façade that faces the arrival court and helipad, the river façade features openings that the architect calculated to frame views for patients in panoramic horizontal slices.
Neil Rashba Architectural Photography
George Z. Nikolajevich, Cannon Design,
Stucco integrally-colored textured precast concrete: