Placemaking is a term used in architectural circles. Books have been written about the subject. It involves the study of the characteristics that make a particular place unique, that foster a sense of human attachment and belonging. “Sense of place” is often both a goal and an inspiration to building designers, as was the case with the design team of the new Texoma Medical Center.
The Texas Limestone-clad fireplace in the lobby is only one of the many “places” carefully designed into the new hospital. Throughout the facility, paint colors, flooring selections, light fixtures, furniture and accessories are all planned to provide inconspicuous support to the places they serve.
“Being in Texas, we wanted to provide larger-scale patterns to relate to the spaciousness of the landscape, “explained principal Laura Rachlin of in.design, inc., the Boca Raton based interior design firm for the project. “This dictated the scale of the tile’s checkerboard pattern.”
“The flooring color palette was inspired by warm, earthy hues found in nature, specifically tones that harmonize with the Texas region. Simulated wood-grained tile was used strategically as a way-finding tool to highlight important areas such as nurse’s stations, elevator lobbies, and waiting rooms.”
With a consistent flooring color palette as a foundation, the designers created a neutral palette of base wall colors and a different set of accent colors for each floor. Finding one’s way in a large building such as a hospital can be difficult and place-making can create “visual landmarks” or architectural elements that are easily identifiable among typically repetitive corridors.
While it may be difficult for some of us to remember which floor or corridor we need, we can often remember the color of the wall or the artwork hanging adjacent to our destination. “Certain walls were painted an accent color to help emphasize and define an area,” said Rachlin. “In addition, we located an accent color across from the patient’s bed, rather than placing it on the headwall, so the patient could experience and enjoy the color.”
Angela Lee, the principal architect for HKS, Inc. underscored the importance of color in the hospital. “People respond to different colors in different ways, and these responses usually take place on a subconscious, emotional level. Color affects our feelings, our appearances, how we decorate our homes, plant our gardens, and relate to each other. In a medical facility, colors can stimulate or relax our senses, release happy memories, reflect how we feel about ourselves and our personal space.”
Want to make a comment about this article?
Scroll to the bottom and Leave a Comment.
Lighting also played an important role as a character-defining trait of spaces within the facility. A slightly lower ceiling at nurse’s stations features hanging lights rather than the typical inlaid fluorescent fixtures. “We used decorative fixtures in prominent public locations to create a more ‘hospitality’ like environment,” said Rachlin, again emphasizing the goal of creating a place that seemed more like a hotel than a hospital. Lobbies and lounges on each floor feature wall sconces, coved ceilings, and hanging lights, as well as wood-grained accent walls and carpeted floors.
Of particular importance for this hospital are adaptability and flexibility. Lee was charged with the task of developing solutions for flexibility. “Major growth departments such as the emergency rooms and imaging and surgery suites are located on the periphery to enable them to grow incrementally with little disruption of ongoing services or interference with the main entry. Efficient structural bay spacing allows flexible space planning and managed growth.”
The interior designers made furniture selections with longevity and timelessness in mind. Classic clean-lined pieces upholstered in vinyl for easy maintenance are coordinated with the color palette. “On average, a hospital will renovate interiors every ten to twenty years, depending on the facility and the area the hospital is in,” said Rachlin. “Many of the elements we selected are design forward. However, we pride ourselves on design solutions that stand the test of time. Our classic contemporary selections will transcend more modern trendy fads that will quickly fade.”
Both design firms are proud of what they were able to achieve at TMC with the help and support of the hospital’s staff. On a project of this scale, the designers must be creative problem solvers during the construction process, when unexpected challenges occur. “We put a lot of work into the design documents for the interiors,” Rachlin said. “Nevertheless, I found that during the construction process there were several conditions that could not have been addressed in drawings and needed to be reviewed on site. One such challenge was the installed location of the Nurse Station in the ER. Although on plan it was to align with the corner of walls and columns, we found that [when constructed] it didn’t align with either. Therefore, we needed to make adjustments to our original design to minimize the issue, while on the job-site.”
Architect Lee worked closely with hospital staff and drew much of her design inspiration from their hopes for the building. “My favorite part has always been meeting with people, from the decision makers, consultants, and users to volunteers and patients’ families. Listening to their needs and coming up with solutions that they appreciate has been extremely rewarding.”
Featured Archive Story
Texas has provided good hunting for scientists looking for traces of the past. The Alibates Flint Quarries along the Canadian River in Moore and Potter Counties in the Panhandle represent some of the most important bodies of evidence as to the industry of ancient peoples. For ten thousand years, men mined the rainbow-colored flint in the dolomite outcropping of the Permian Age.
Children and parents can spend many satisfying hours together digging in the dirt to the benefits of both. The National Gardening Association, which promotes plant-based educational gardening for youth, says “Youth gardening programs help fight childhood obesity … and they help young people see themselves as part of a community.”
Looking for the Printed Version?You can find a complete set of Texoma Living! Magazine in the library at Austin College.
Search Every Issue
- October 2011
- July 2011
- December 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- March 2009
- December 2008
- September 2008
- June 2008
- March 2008
- December 2007
- June 2007
- March 2007
- December 2006