Hospital Designs Differ, with a Common Purpose

October 24th, 2008

Stanford Hospital & Clinics plans unveiled this week, showing sharp contrast to Children’s Hospital

By Jay Thorwaldson — Palo Alto Weekly,

Stanford University’s $2.5 billion dual hospital-replacement projects are anything but twins, design concepts unveiled this week reveal.

Architects and Stanford officials Monday disclosed a massive main-hospital building complex featuring four large square structures — called patient-care “pavilions” — rising above a three-level structure, plus another pavilion off one corner. All would be connected by walkways.

Designs for a separate Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital — disclosed last month — reveal a design with sweeping curves and circular elements. The Children’s Hospital would be constructed along Welch Road, a short distance east of the main hospital.

What the two hospitals have in common, officials and architects emphasized, is an overriding commitment to creating the best possible environment for both patients and staff. They would also incorporate operational efficiencies, earthquake-safe structures, flexibility to anticipate new technology and practices, “green” design elements and outstanding designs to reflect the next half century of patient care.

The combined costs of the hospitals is estimated at about $2.5 billion, with $1 billion for Children’s and $1.5 billion for the main complex. But those are subject to change as designs move forward and costs of materials change, officials caution.

The new plans for the main hospital feature three lower levels surrounding a dramatic fan-shaped cascading waterfall, the core of the “soothing” feeling architects say they have been striving to create throughout the building.

Each pavilion would be square and rise either six or seven stories to a maximum height of 130 feet. The new pavilions replace an earlier conceptual design showing three rounded patient-care “towers,” also about 130 feet high.

Much of the existing medical center, designed by Edward Durell Stone and opened in the late 1950s, would remain for the immediate future. In the longer term, officials said, additional pavilions could be added to the new main hospital to replace the old buildings.

About 120 community leaders were given their first glimpse of architectural designs for the massive rebuilding and expansion of Stanford University’s hospitals and medical center Monday. On Tuesday, officials continued informational-outreach meetings to neighborhood groups in Palo Alto.

“I’m a real believer in treating the whole person,” Martha Marsh, president and CEO of Stanford Hospital & Clinics, said of the underlying design concepts, which architects repeatedly called “soothing.” She hosted the Monday reception at the Garden Court Hotel in downtown Palo Alto, along with Christopher Dawes, president and CEO of the Children’s Hospital.

Architects for both the main hospital and a new Children’s Hospital took questions from the audience, including numerous city officials and community leaders.

The Children’s Hospital design is being done by William Pedersen of Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), who will be working with the Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc.

The design for the main hospital complex is by Rafael Viñoly of Rafael Viñoly Architects, based in New York with offices in London and Los Angeles. Viñoly will be working in association with the California-based architectural firm Lee, Burkhart, Liu, Inc.

The associated firms have separate expertise in hospital and medical-center operations.

Models and renderings of the hospitals at the unveiling showed dramatically different concepts for the main complex and the separate Children’s Hospital, which featured sweeping curves and rounded ends, with “tree house” areas looking over gardens where families could gather.

Stanford faces a mandate to replace by 2013 the existing hospital buildings, part of which date back to the late 1950s when earthquake standards were less sophisticated.

An environmental impact report is targeted for completion in early 2009, and hospital officials hope for approvals from the city and state agencies by 2010, in time for construction to be completed by the 2013 state mandate.