Hospitals are not places generally associated with pleasure – after all, most of us are usually only at one when we or a loved one are sick. Traditionally, they’re not nice to look at, either: we think of over-lit and sterile environments, with visual stimulation limited to small, wall-mounted televisions.
However, a new generation of medical facilities is changing the face of the hospital, literally. These places take a more holistic approach to healthcare – one that takes the healing environment into consideration. As a result, the hospitals on this list may be more welcoming and diverse than those with which many are familiar. And while patient care remains their primary objective, many have put almost equal care into their clients’ surroundings.
30. Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Children – Orlando, Florida
With its striking looks, the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Children, located in Orlando, Florida, seems at first glance to be something else entirely – in fact, it was conceptualized to be more like a hotel. The structure is made up of dark glass-covered towers, which rise from a triangle-shaped base. Worldwide architects Jonathan Bailey Associates say that this arrangement makes access to resources easier, helps the movement of patients and staff to become more efficient, and simplifies monitoring of activities. The hospital – which as its name suggests serves women and children – was completed in 2006, and it is now a distinctive landmark on the Orlando skyline.
29. Rush University Medical Center – Chicago, Illinois
In 2012 the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago opened its transformed campus after a radical redesign of the 175-year-old institution’s complex. The educational hospital now presents a sleek, up-to-date exterior to match the cutting-edge methods of care within its walls. The Chicago branch of global architects Perkins+Will worked closely with the hospital and its users during the center’s design stage in order to create an optimal working environment. Its environmentally friendly construction also means that Rush is the biggest newly built health facility in the world to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.
28. Akershus University Hospital – Nordbyhagen, Norway
With Akershus University Hospital, Scandinavian firm Arkitektfirmaet C. F. Møller created a friendly, welcoming environment for patients and their families. Each section is given its own unique treatment, differentiating it from the others and providing varied visual stimulation. The hospital, located in Nordbyhagen, Norway, utilizes geothermal heating for most of its warming requirements. Sustainability was also a factor in the facility’s construction, and materials were locally sourced. The new hospital opened in 2008, although work will continue on the emergency department until 2014. In 2009 it won the award for Best International Design in the Building Better Healthcare Awards.
27. Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children – Birmingham, Alabama
The Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children in Birmingham, Alabama is, in area, the third-biggest children’s hospital in America. Its shiny glass and white concrete façade is the work of global architectural firm HKS, Inc., which strove to make the facility a less frightening place for children than a traditional hospital would be. The interiors of the different levels are uniquely colored and easy to navigate, while windows provide both great views and natural lighting. The hospital, which opened in August 2012, is the first in Alabama to have won the LEED Silver certificate.
26. Kemang Children’s Hospital – Jakarta, Indonesia
Vibrant colors give a welcoming look to the exterior of the Kemang Children’s Hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia. And light striking the tinted sections over the windows bathes the interior of the rooms in different hues, creating an inviting atmosphere inside as well. Designers Aboday of Jakarta had to deal with substantial space and budgetary constraints with this facility, which treats both children and women. The unusual design is meant to catch the attention of potential clients, and it should certainly stand out in its urban environment. The construction was completed in 2008.
25. Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Center – London, UK
According to London-based architects Penoyre & Prasad, the design of the Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Center at Moorfields Eye Hospital “dispels preconceptions of hospitals to create an holistic, child-focused and welcoming environment.” The interesting aluminum projections not only add character, but also act to minimize solar heating. And at night the building is even more arresting, as colored lights bathe the façade. The hospital, which was completed in 2007, caters to children from birth to 16 years, some of whom may return to the facility over a period of years. An environment that is supportive of both patients and families is therefore particularly important.
24. Einstein Medical Center Montgomery – East Norriton, Pennsylvania
The Einstein Medical Center Montgomery is a non-profit hospital located in East Norriton, Pennsylvania. The New York branch of global architects Perkins+Will designed the state-of-the art development, which was the region’s only new medical center to be constructed in more than ten years. The hospital was built on an old golf course, and the architects successfully retained 30 acres of green space, with the large windows of the structure allowing for great views of the setting. These surroundings include footpaths for patients, staff and the public to enjoy. Construction, which was completed in September 2012, used plenty of recycled and local materials, and the hospital achieved a LEED Silver certificate rating in 2013.
23. Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital – West Bloomfield, Michigan
The Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital in Michigan has been described as the “Cirque du Soleil of health care,” since, like the famous circus, it is a standard-setter in its field. The hospital, which opened in March 2009, offers exceptional service and treatment in an environment where greenery or scenery is never far from view. The Detroit branch of architectural firm Albert Kahn Associates created the LEED Silver-certified building using regionally sourced materials and energy-efficient glass on top of cooling and heating systems. As well as two green roofs boasting 20,000 plants, the hospital also features atria containing a further 2,500.
22. Rey Juan Carlos Hospital – Madrid, Spain
The Rey Juan Carlos Hospital in Madrid, Spain is more sleek and space age than dull and depressing. Designed by local architects Rafael de La-Hoz and completed in March 2012, the institution is intended to be a true healing space filled with “harmony and light.” An abundance of light, silence and efficiency was the desired result for the building, and we’d argue that pleasing aesthetics, too, seem to be part of the finished article. The two ovals on top were created to be peaceful spaces, without the noise or bustle of long, straight corridors. Plus, the hospital features a green roof garden and views from each room.
21. Banner Gateway Medical Center – Gilbert, Arizona
While designing the Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert, Arizona, global architecture firm NBBJ had in mind a desert oasis, in order to inject some serenity into what can be a troubling time. Local materials were incorporated into the facility’s unique masonry wall, which features half a dozen custom patterns. The way the sun hits the center’s exterior also gives it an appearance of striated rock – just like a desert canyon. The project was finished in September 2007 and won the Modern Healthcare Design Award for Excellence.
20. Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital – Roanoke, Virginia
The Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital has been serving the community of Roanoke, Virginia for over a century, and in late 2004 renovation began on it to consolidate it with the affiliated Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital. The Roanoke office of global architecture firm AECOM, along with fellow architects HOK, designed the project, which included creating a new structure over two of those already at the location. Even with tricky logistical issues like the flooding of the Roanoke River and the need to keep part of the hospital running continuously, the new facility was finished on time and under budget in September 2007. It is now the second-largest community hospital in Virginia.
19. Guimarães Private Hospital – Guimarães, Portugal
Portuguese architects Pitágoras Arquitectos designed the Guimarães Private Hospital in two distinct units, one larger than the other. The building, located in the northern Portuguese city of Guimarães, needed to be simple and easily navigated. Public areas of the hospital are marked by their use of natural lighting, whereas staff and mixed areas utilize artificial light. The firm also aimed to make the hospital immediately identifiable and unique, which was achieved in part through the attractive façades. Construction was completed in 2009.
18. CHA Women and Children’s Hospital – Seongnam, South Korea
In designing the CHA Women and Children’s Hospital in Seongnam, South Korea, KMD Architects created a facility that fits in perfectly with its well-to-do area. The U.S.-based firm came up with a shiny, modern structure that has one whole level housing an extended stay spa. The facility is softened on the inside by the inclusion of plants, wood and water features, while its roof is also an area of plants as well as wooden decking. The hospital, which was finished in 2006, is made up of four stories above ground and four floors below, making it bigger than it first appears. In 2008 it picked up the American Institute of Architects National Healthcare Design Award.
17. Clemenceau Medical Center – Beirut, Lebanon
Clemenceau Medical Center in Beirut, Lebanon has several prestigious honors, including being one of HealthExecNews.com’s “25 Most Beautiful Hospitals in the World” and winning the Best Sustainable Hospital Design Award in 2009 as well as Best Healing Environment in 2013 at the Hospital Build Exhibition. The hospital, which has an affiliation with Johns Hopkins Medicine International, was designed by multinational architects Khatib & Alami, was opened in 2006 and, beyond its striking façade, holds exceptionally modern medical equipment.
16. Carol and Frank Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare – Tampa, Florida
The Carol and Frank Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare is part of the University of South Florida’s healthcare learning program. The Tampa branch of Alfonso Architects designed the facility, which includes MRI, CT, X-ray and women’s diagnostics units, plus a surgery area and more. The building itself is sleek looking, with simple lines and a plain color scheme creating a calm, clean effect. The center was completed in July 2008.
15. Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula – Monterey, California
The Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in California is no newcomer to design elements that can aid treatment. The hospital – opened in 1962 and designed by well-known architect Edward Durell Stone – already incorporated features like plentiful natural light and links to the natural world. Global architectural firm HOK’s Los Angeles branch added an expansion to the hospital, which was completed in three stages between 2006 and 2010. The designers were mindful of blending in with the hospital’s original architecture and also of the regulations of the municipal area in which it is located.
14. Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital – Melbourne, Australia
Although a hospital may never truly be described as a fun place, Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital tries as hard as it can. Local firms Billard Leece and Bates Smart – along with the Dallas, Texas branch of multinational architecture firm HKS – provided the design for the hospital, which has a distinctive façade inspired by the leaves of a tree. The leaf-like features also act as sunshades and range in color from green to red. Inside the hospital there is a giant aquarium, a large colorful sculpture, and scenic views of the nearby Royal Park. Completed in 2011, the new hospital replaces the old Royal Children’s Hospital, scheduled for demolition in 2014.
13. Southwest Washington Medical Center – Washington
Set up in the mid-19th century, the Southwest Washington Medical Center recently added a new tower that increases its capacity nearly twofold. Responsibility for designing the tower went to Seattle-based global architectural firm NBBJ, and the stunning eight-story structure was finished in December 2006. The center includes a lobby that doubles as a community meeting place, offering the public access not only to a Health Resource Center, but also to other facilities such as a café and flower store.
12. Shesmedi Hospital – Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
While creating the design for Shesmedi Hospital in South Korea’s Gyeonggi-do province, the challenge for Seoul-based architects D·Lim was to transform two separate buildings into one unified health facility. On one side of the parking lot there was a maternity hospital, while on the other there was a warehouse. The old hospital was turned into a ward, while the warehouse became an outpatient building, which also holds operating and recovery rooms. Joining the two buildings is a 131-foot glass-windowed walkway that spans the space above the parking lot.
11. Florida Waterman Hospital – Tavares, Florida
The Florida Waterman Hospital almost looks more like a tropical resort than a health facility. The design, which was overseen by worldwide architectural studio Jonathan Bailey, reflects the hospital’s location amid lakes and wetlands. Unlike the case with many hospitals, there’s little in the way of shiny glass, since a bald eagle, herons, snowy egrets and other threatened avian species live in the area, and glass could mean the eagle, in particular, colliding with the building. The tent-like roof, which reaches over the front of the hospital, offers protection from the elements as well as being an interesting design feature. Completed in 2003, the hospital has successfully merged both design principles and environmental concerns to create a unique facility.
10. Union Hospital Health System Replacement Hospital – Terre Haute, Indiana
Glass is an important element of the Union Hospital Health System Replacement Hospital in Terre Haute, Indiana. A gleaming wall of the material ties together the building’s façade and four-level atrium, flooding the hospital with natural light. Architects TEG – which have an office in Jeffersonville, Indiana – also created open spaces and interesting architectural features within the building and paid special attention to the safety of both patients and personnel. The hospital was finished in January 2010.
9. Uppsala University Hospital Psychiatric Building – Uppsala, Sweden
Nestled in the Uppsala University Hospital campus, the psychiatric building is a striking facility. Nordic architectural firm Tengbom designed the building, which won a 2007 design competition. Importance was placed on steering clear of a typical institutional atmosphere within the hospital and instead creating one that was bright and cheerful. Opened in 2012, the building uses large windows that both offer good views and encourage impromptu interactions between individuals. The facility also features a large sky-lit courtyard in the center that serves the same purpose.
8. Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Center – Franklin, Wisconsin
Located in the rural part of Franklin, Wisconsin, the Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Center was designed with local aesthetics in mind. International architectural company HDR based the design somewhat on the “Prairie School” aesthetic, which has a long tradition in the state. The hospital tries to create a homely rather than an institutional atmosphere, with cozy lighting, stained glass and gentle wooden details. Opened in 2008, the facility used the Green Guide for Healthcare to come up with many of its environmentally sensitive solutions.
7. Harlem Hospital – New York, New York
Some of the hospitals on this list look like works of art – and this one more than most. The $325 million, 195,000 square-foot Harlem Hospital Pavilion, which was designed by global architects HOK, includes giant glass panels on its façade to form striking transparent murals. The huge, eye-catching frontage consists of reproduced historical murals by African American artists. Moreover, at night the artwork becomes even more engaging as it lights up softly from inside. The pavilion links the Martin Luther King, Jr. Pavilion and the Ronald H. Brown Ambulatory Care Pavilion, and it was completed in September 2012.
6. Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre – Ontario, Canada
According to Toronto-based Canadian architects Farrow Partnership, which designed this facility, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s “dramatic use of wood, and multiple-height interior spaces flooded with natural light, creates dynamic innovative, functional places for healing.” Opened in 2004, the hospital – which serves Thunder Bay and large parts of Northwestern Ontario – is known for its cancer care. Radiation treatment rooms in the facility are fitted with skylights in order to brighten up difficult and depressing environments. And the hospital also features abundant natural light in other sections, including a three-story atrium.
5. New Stobhill Hospital – Glasgow, Scotland
Edinburgh-based Reiach and Hall Architects created Glasgow’s New Stobhill Hospital, which is the first true ambulatory care and diagnostic facility in Scotland. Completed in 2006, the facility is not only a place for the sick, but also a meeting place for locals, who gather at its café. An exchanger circulates hot air from the plant room and provides heating, while natural light is maximized. The project is rated “Excellent” by the Northern Environment Action Team. It has also won many awards, including the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award 2010 and a Royal Institute of British Architects Award for architectural excellence in the same year.
4. Kaiser Foundation Hospital – Fontana, California
The first Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Fontana, California opened its doors in 1943, and roughly every ten years since then it has undergone major renovation work to keep up with increasing demand. The latest upgrade, a new facility built on the compound, was completed in May 2013 and overseen by international architects HMC. Not only does the facility offer a sleek and polished environment and cutting-edge medical care, but it also meets California’s stringent earthquake safety standards. Furthermore, efforts were made to make the hospital environmentally sound: for example, attention was paid to energy efficiency and water reclamation, and recyclable materials were used in the construction.
3. Children’s Hospital in Orange County – California
There’s no missing the brightly colored, eight-level Bill Holmes tower at the Children’s Hospital in Orange County (CHOC). Texas-based architects FKP was behind the design of the striking facility, and the studio aimed to create a building that expressed a “vibrant spirit, progressive vision and a world-class sense of place.” The sense of fun continues inside the facility, as each level has its own nature-based theme, beginning with “fossils” in the basement and ending with “space” on the top floor. The new hospital tower, which was opened in March 2013, was constructed using sustainable principles, and recyclable materials were used wherever possible.
2. South Tower Expansion for Providence Holy Cross Medical Center – Mission Hills, California
Global design studio HMC Architects was tasked with creating the $180 million South Tower Expansion facility located at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, California. The result is this elegant facility featuring a cool-looking white and blue color scheme. Reflecting the hospital’s commitment to sustainability, the new center has a Silver LEED certificate. The grand opening was held in July 2011, and the tower now provides medical care for women and newborns.
1. Outpatient Tower at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center – Dallas, Texas
The new 13-story Outpatient Tower at Dallas’ University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is the first completed and functioning installment of a new campus planned to replace the current St. Paul University Hospital, which dates back to the 1950s. Texas-based FKP Architects is the design company behind the $800 million facility. The tower has a light and airy feel courtesy of the large windows that encase the structure, and inside it houses ambulatory and diagnostic services as well as overnight patient rooms. The entire campus is expected to be completed in late 2014.