The Cleveland Clinic, consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the United States, was established in 1921 as a center for interdisciplinary patient care, research, and education. But, over the last century, that goal has been undermined by the clinic’s expansion into a sprawling 165-acre campus-located five miles east of downtown Cleveland near Case Western Reserve University (CWRU)–whose dental, nursing, and medical schools have operated as distinct institutions in separate quarters. Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University decided to improve coordination among students who should be learning to work together.

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To further the medical education mission, the Clinic and CWRU are creating a new 11-acre Health Education Campus, to be completed at an estimated cost of $515 million. Its first building is the 478,000-square-foot Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion, designed by Foster + Partners of London in association with DLR Group | Westlake Reed Leskosky (DLR Group) of Cleveland. This new facility, completed in April, will serve 2,200 students from Case Western’s three medical programs and from the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner College of Medicine. Here, under one roof, future doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and dentists will learn to collaborate and communicate as a team.

Students gather at custom white-oak tables, while a winter garden provides a break space for an adjacent auditorium, photo © Nigel Young

Located between two major arteries—Chester and Euclid avenues—on a site that had been mostly surface parking, Samson is a first step in implementing Foster’s 2012 master plan to integrate old and new buildings in a coherent campus of green courtyards and squares. The new four-story pavilion fits comfortably into its low-rise context and creates strong edges for adjacent outdoor spaces. Its western flank borders the landscaped spine of the city’s East 93rd Street, opposite a three-story, 132,000-square-foot dental clinic designed by DLR Group. To the east, the pavilion overlooks a five-acre lawn bordered by trees, which is used for recreation and will accommodate graduation ceremonies.

The simple rectangular volume has a classical rigor, symmetrically massed with clearly articulated structural steel bays, clad in glass and modulated horizontally by white aluminum spandrels. Entrances are recessed into the east and west facades, while winter gardens punctuate the north and south facades. A stainless- steel canopy appears to float above the fourth story.

The original client brief had specified a quadrangle surrounded by four individual buildings. But the architects identified redundant program elements that could be shared among the schools, increasing utilization from 30 percent to more than 50 percent and reducing net area by 20 percent. This opportunity to reduce size and cost led to a single structure in which an atrium is surrounded by shared facilities. These include an auditorium, classrooms, labs, and food service on level one; a library, meeting rooms, and more labs on level two; and offices with faculty and student areas on level four. Level three is currently open to accommodate future expansion. To help maintain their individual identities, each school has its own ground-floor reception.

Trusses with acoustic panels alternate with skylights above the courtyard, photo © Nigel Young

The luminous 27,000-square-foot, 80-foot-high central atrium is called the Cosgrove Courtyard in honor of Dr. Toby Cosgrove, former president and CEO of the clinic, who spearheaded the project. (A renowned cardiac surgeon, he performed successful heart surgery on South African steel mogul and philanthropist Eric Samson, whose subsequent generosity helped fund the pavilion that now bears his name.) Asked why he chose Foster for this project, Cosgrove replied, “I love what they did at the British Museum.” Like that institution’s skylit Great Court, which opened in December 2000 (RECORD, March 2001), the atrium here is an architectural tour de force, celebrating the virtues of symmetry, transparency, and spatial layering. “It’s quite formal,” says Spencer de Grey, Foster’s head of design. “But people respond positively to that, especially in public spaces. Its calm, classical quality provides an ordered backdrop for the individuality and randomness of student life.”

Monumental stairs at the courtyard’s corners and wide cantilevered walkways at its perimeter are intended to encourage interaction among students of all four schools by providing ample venues for impromptu meetings and chance encounters. An allée of ficus trees defines an indoor avenue and introduces both scale and greenery to a space that might otherwise seem overwhelming. “It’s already known as ‘the Grove,’ ” notes Cosgrove, with a laugh. Lounge seating mixes with library-style tables and chairs to facilitate both socializing and study. Furniture and trees—in custom planters that incorporate benches—can be easily reconfigured for concerts, conferences, and exhibitions. Gray granite floors, white plasterboard walls, and white oak millwork, all detailed with the architect’s usual precision, are softly illuminated by a roof in which steel trusses, fitted with acoustic panels, alternate with glass. “Natural light,” says Chris Connell, the clinic’s chief design officer (as well as former Foster partner), “is part of the palette.”

Cleveland Clinic

Photo © Nigel Young

Targeting a LEED Gold rating, the Samson Pavilion’s green technology includes an energy system using VRV fan coils, air handlers with heat recovery, and sensors that adjust electric lighting according to the amount of available daylight. The most environmentally significant move, however, may be sound site planning. The project is located in a densely developed area well served by public transportation and surrounded by thoughtfully landscaped open space with a stormwater-retention system.

No matter how sustainable or visually stunning, the success of the Samson Pavilion will ultimately be measured by how well it advances interdisciplinary health-care education. Because students have only just begun to use it, it’s too soon to say. But reaction so far has been positive, especially to the social possibilities of the courtyard. “I feel constantly rejuvenated here,” says one student. “I see everyone I know and everyone I don’t know.”



Foster + Partners, Riverside, 22 Hester Road London SW11 4AN, +44 20 7738 0455,


Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:

Norman Foster, Spencer De Grey, David Nelson, David Summerfield, Piers Heath, Roger Ridsdill Smith, Chris Connell, James Edwards, Niall Dempsey

Igor Echave, Upesh Dhanji, Weifeng Kong, Ana Reis, Ignacio Diaz, Flavio Sousa, John McCulley, Beatriz Calvete, Maria Garcia, Cristina Sanchez, Natalie Wills, Jakob Engstrom, Fabio Roberti, Roberto Ruiperez, Juan Martin de Leon, Caileigh Cowan, Alice Sharpe


Architect of record:

Westlake Reed Leskosky


Associate architect(s):

DLR Group | Westlake Reed Leskosky

Address: 1422 Euclid Avenue, Suite 300  Cleveland, OH  44115

Tel: 216-522-1350


Interior designer:

Foster + Partners


Structural Engineers:

Foster + Partners


MEP Engineers:

Foster + Partners


Engineers of record:

MEP: Smith Seckman Reid, Inc

Structural: Westlake Reed Leskosky

Civil & Technology: Karpinski Engineering



Lighting: George Sexton Associates

Acoustics: Sandy Brown Associates

Cost: Aecom


General contractor:

Donley’s Inc + Turner Construction Co.



Nigel Young



Structural System

Exterior Cladding

Metal panels: Pohl – Stainless steel canopy & external soffit;

Assembled & installed by Enclos;

Metal/glass curtain wall: J.E. Berkowitz – strip window glass;

Interpane - exterior glass;

Assembled & installed by Enclos Corp;

Cladding systems: Unitized strip window system - Assembled & inst. by Enclos; Corp; 

Tension cable system (sag-rod)– Assembled & Enclos Corp; 

Storefront system - Assembled & installed by Enclos Corp; 

Glass: Interpane - exterior glazing;

Pulp – stone glass panels;

UAM – glazing;

Assembled & installed by Enclos Corp;


Exposed steel columns: Schuff Steel Company;



Built-up roofing: Soprema - roofing system

Elastomeric: Dow – DOWSIL sealants

Trelleborg – CW Gaskets;

Assembled & installed by Enclos Corp;

Metal: Pohl – Aluminum roofing;

Vulcan – louvers & wall panels;

CS Group – louvers;

BMG – misc. metals and copings;

Centrial – centria panels;

System assembled & installed by Enclos Corp;

Skylight systems: Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope- system;

Interpane –glass;

Assembled & installed by Enclos Corp;

Insulated-panel: Centria – centria panels (MEP enclosure);



Entrances: UAM –Ss bead blasted portal frame + Ss frame swing doors;          

Assembled & installed by Enclos Corp;         

Sliding doors (offices): American Interiors

Glass swing doors (offices):  American Interiors


Interior Finishes

Acoustical ceilings: Kvadrat;

Suspension grid: Kvadrat – acoustic ceiling grid;

American Interiors - office grid;

Demountable partitions: American Interiors / DIRTT

Custom woodwork: Reserve Millwork – cupboards, tables, worktops;

Benchmark – tables, chairs, stools, credenzas;

Paints: Sherwin-Williams Paints

Timber cladding: American Interiors / DIRTT; Reserve Millwork

Acoustical wall cladding: Kvadrat;

Corian: Corian

Granite flooring: IGM

Resilient flooring: Nora

Carpet: Tandus Centiva

Raised flooring: Tate raised floor



Office furniture: Bespoke sit/stand system by Teknion

Reception furniture: Bespoke millwork

Interior: bespoke millwork timber benches, bespoke planter+ floating bench by                      Benchmark

Exterior: Granite Bench (same granite as inside)

Chairs: Steelcase chairs (offices), Howe chairs (classrooms and meeting rooms), Maruni chair in selected spaces (courtyard)

Tables:Benchmark tables

Upholstery: Kvadrat fabric and Alma leather

Other furniture: Bespoke planters by Benchmark, soft seating by Vitra and others



Lighting designer: George Sexton Associates

Lighting contractor: Zenith Systems

Interior ambient lighting: Several manufacturers

Downlights: Several manufacturers

Task lighting: Furniture integrated lighting and steelcase task light in offices

Exterior: Iguzzini

Dimming system or other lighting controls: Lutron lighting control



Elevators/escalators: Otis

Accessibility provisions: Ramps in tiered theater, elevators to access upper floors, accessible bathrooms



Smith and Oby