Emergency Department Expansion – Methodist South Hospital
13. March 2017
A curved glass wall, large canopy, and signage combine to give the emergency department of the Methodist South Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, a clear presence, something it previously lacked. The expansion was designed by brg3s architects, who answered a few questions about the recently completed project.
Please provide an overview of the project.
Methodist South Hospital’s Emergency Department provides critically important services to the people of South Memphis, one of the oldest and most underserved areas in Memphis. This project expands upon Methodist South‘s current emergency department facilities, updating the existing and giving the emergency department a greater prominence.
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?
Methodist South’s previous emergency department featured a predominately south facing facade with significant glazed surface area, causing problems related to heat gain and energy efficiency and creating an uncomfortable environment for visitors. Additionally, the previous facility lacked presence on the site.
To solve these problems the new addition consists of two primary elements that slip past one another, with facade treatments designed to improve responsiveness to the site orientation. A translucent, internally lit bright white skin wraps the southwest facade, acting as a glowing beacon for patients and visitors to the emergency department. A prominent cantilevered volume passes behind this translucent glowing form, creating a canopy above the drop-off zone and serving as the backdrop for the primary emergency signage directing vistors to the entry. The profile of this canopy is seen as a muted shadow behind the translucent wall, pulling vistors from the entrance into the reception area and the waiting space beyond.
Once inside, the translucent southwest facing exterior skin works to maximize natural lighting while minimizing heat gain. Vision glazing connects the waiting spaces to exterior planters, providing visitors with views of nature. As one moves from the entry into the waiting space, the curved wall draws visitors into the expanded seating area. Taken together, these elements provide an integral design solution that responds to the surrounding context while simultaneously creating a highly visible, fresh identity for the emergency department.
How does the design respond to the unique qualities of the site?
The campus of Methodist South’s existing facilities is composed of multiple ambiguous tan brick masses, causing serious wayfinding issues for newcomers. The complex provided little clue as to what buildings served what function, or where visitors could find their destinations. The new addition's materiality and form both complements and contrasts with the existing massing, allowing the emergency department to stand out on the site.
Given limited area on the site for expansion, the programmtic needs of the addition influenced design decisions resulting in the curved form, which enabled the project team to enhance existing vehicular circulation, integrate a new covered drop-off, and provide sufficient rooftop area for the relocation of a helicopter pad to serve the department.
Was the project influenced by any trends in energy-conservation, construction, or design?
The emergency department expansion was influenced by several recent trends in healthcare design. Chief among these is the rise of patient focused designs that offer exposure to natural light, connections to nature and greenery, and a hospitality-design inspired attention to the warmth and serenity of the patient and visitor environments.
The Methodist South department features a KalWall system exterior wall that provides an abundance of natural light, and the design offers direct views of the plant growth just outside the building. The warmth of the wood interior ceilings complements the soothing color palette used throughout. Taking cues from the innovations in the hospitality industry, the spacious reception desk is both welcoming and sophisticated.
What products or materials have contributed to the success of the completed building?
The Kalwall translucent wall panel system was critical to the primary southwest facing façade design. The Kalwall system permits an abundance of natural daylighting but also met our goals for energy efficiency by minimzing heat gain. The contribution of this system to the sucess of the building is most evident at night, when the Kalwall system comes alive as a luminous beacon to visitors, elevating the building form through materiality.
Email interview conducted by John Hill.
Emergency Department Expansion – Methodist South Hospital2016
Jay Sweeney, Adam Stowe, Erin Metelka
Allen & Hoshall
Allen & Hoshall
Kersey / Wike Associates Inc.
Translucent Wall Panel System
Wood Ceiling Panels
Automatic Entrance Door