The design of the E.W. and Mary Firstenburg Tower supports Southwest Washington Medical Center’s 150-year-old mission of service to its patients, their families, the facility’s staff, and the surrounding community. It creates an environment of comfort, ease, and familiarity to help mitigate some of life’s most stressful and life-altering moments. It elevates the boundaries of traditional health care design to balance craft with space dedicated to the human experience—one that strengthens the social dimension of healing. And through careful attention to detail, inspired by nature, it enables a patient’s path to recovery—one from dependence to independence.
The E.W. and Mary Firstenburg Tower is part of the first phase of a master plan to create a new campus for the aging infrastructure and rapidly growing community of this hospital, one of the oldest surviving hospitals west of the Rocky Mountains.
As the first piece of complete campus renewal, the design transformed an asphalt-covered parking lot into lush healing garden and landscaped community. Three hundred varieties of trees and 3,000 plantings were dispersed among the campus’ seven new gardens.
The 307,000 square-foot, eight-story tower nearly doubles Southwest’s medical, surgical and key support services, including 144 private, single-occupancy patient rooms with family and visitor spaces, 15 state-of-the-art surgery suites, six interventional suites, a 3,370 square foot outdoor staff-only “secret” garden, the Heart and Vascular Center, the Bone and Joint Center, and the Brain and Spinal Center. Sixty new underground parking spaces providing patients with a private means to exit after surgery.
To enable the progression from patient room, found in the core of the hospital, to the gardens outside, the design created spaces where family can be involved in the healing process. It also infuses the healing power of nature into almost every aspect of the healing environment. Patient rooms are single-occupancy to enable faster healing. Rooms are angled to give patients easier access to expansive views and natural light. “Perches” were designed outside each patient room to serve as a patient porch, a family waiting area, and a physician/family area to consult. The landscaped pathways and gardens provide several options for regaining strength at various intervals of recovery: pathways close to the hospital are designed to support those who are less independent, while paths further away encourage outdoor activity.
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Partner in charge: Richard Dallam, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
Partner in charge of interiors: Rysia Suchecka, Hon AIA, IIDA
Project Manager: Leigh Sutphin
Lead Designer: Dale Alberda, AIA
Project Architect: James Brennan
Lead Medical Planner: Kristina Ryhn
Lead Interior Design: Christine Vandover, IIDA, LEED AP
Lighting Designer: Melanie Taylor, IALD, LEED AP
Environmental Graphic Designer: Eric LeVine
Other key project team members:
Medical Planner: Jeff Polachowski
Architect: Soo Park
Medical Planner: Semra Riddle, AIA
Interior Design: Pete Lorimer, LEED AP
Senior Technical Architect: Bill Auld, AIA
Senior Technical Architect: Kim Krech, AIA
Interior Designer: Sarah Oliver
Interior Designer: Samantha Chen
Designer: David Ho
Designer: Charlie Choo
Designer: Scott Francis
Other: KPFF Consulting Engineers; Hopper Dennis Jellison, PLLC; Sparling
General contractor: Hoffman-Andersen of Washington
EIFS, ACM, or other: Column Covers, Moz Designs
Plastic laminate: Counter Material (Café), DuPont
Reception furniture: Custom Desk, Forms + Surfaces
Fixed seating: Chair (Patient Room), Steelcase
Chairs: Armchairs (Lobby, Waiting Area), Davis Furniture; Sofa, Lounge Chairs (Lobby, Waiting Area), Stools (Café), Chairs (Elevator Lobby), Brayton International; Custom Sofa (Patient Room), Custom Bench (Hall), Brandrud
Tables: Tables (Lobby, Elevator Lobby), Allemuir; Cube Table (Waiting Area), Brent Comber Originals; Table (Patient Room), Harter; Desk Material, Richlite Company; Armoire Surfacing, Nevamar Decorative Surfaces
Upholstery: Armchair back, Side Fabric, Lounge Chair Fabric (Lobby, Waiting Area), Stool Fabric (Café), Sofa Seat Fabric (Patient Room), Maharam; Armchair Seat Fabric (Lobby, Waiting Area), Sofa Back Fabric (Patient Room), Carnegie; Bench Seat Material (Hall), DuPont; Chair Fabric, Sina Pearson Textiles; Bolster Fabric, Momentum Fabric; Panel Fabric, Knoll
Other furniture: Whiteboard, Abet; Charting Station (Hall), Steelcase; Medical Equipment (Lab), Koniklijke Philips Electronics