4 design features of a modern medical office building that make it a community landmark

May 21, 2019

Want a distinguishable building? Innovative planning and design need to be at the forefront of the project

 

By Susan Limbrunner and Jae Choi

As consumers continue to look for more out of their outpatient clinic, the design of a medical office building (MOB) has become increasingly important. We are seeing a shift in how we design MOBs as they become more of a destination that offers an experience for the consumer. Not only are they coming to visit a doctor, they may also be grabbing lunch from an on-site restaurant, relaxing in an outdoor area between appointments, or enjoying the wildlife on the green rooftop.

We recently completed the design of the Glenview Medical Office Building in Glenview, Illinois, and found value in engaging an experiential and architectural designer throughout the planning process to create a MOB that is a marketable landmark for the community. Moving through the planning process, we kept asking ourselves, “How can we make this particular building a distinguishable experience?” Four notable features of the layout and design shine through as differentiators for the client and community: a strong identity, community spaces, natural light, and sustainability.  

 

1. A strong identity

Designing a building with identifiable characteristics such as unique materials, form, or signage allows the building to stand alone and make a presence in the community. This helps establish a sense of pride for community members, as well as an iconic location for health networks that lease space within the building.

The Glenview site, known as the “gateway to Glenview,” sits on a prominent intersection and receives a three-sided view from the community. The architectural language relates directly to the design of the site plan. Optimizing the visibility and the unique configuration of the site, our team engaged the geometry of the site within the building structure. We did this by lifting the corners to reveal the large, public atrium that welcomes and invites visitors.

 

Designing a medical office building with identifiable characteristics such as unique materials, form, or signage allows the building to stand alone and make a presence in the community. (Rendering: Glenview Medical Office Building)

 

2. Community and open spaces

As a new concept in MOBs, it’s important to consider the spaces where patients can congregate outside of their appointment and where the care team can spend some respite time as well. These spaces allow for placemaking and interaction points. This fosters connectivity and creates immersive work environments that contribute to the care team’s health, happiness, and well-being.

_q_tweetable:Moving through the planning process, we kept asking ourselves, ‘How can we make this particular building a distinguishable experience?’_q_At Glenview, we used modular clinic layouts to arrange the functions and layouts necessary for patient care to the unique site constraints. Upon entering, the visitor is greeted by a multilevel, open atrium space equipped with seating options and a celebrated grand staircase. This large open space at the initial entrance is used for a small coffee bar, community outreach, educational programs, and collaboration between providers and patients. We felt it was important to include this space to encourage these interactions and provide more amenity space for the both the community and care team.

Seating plays a large role in open spaces. A typical MOB may offer the same seats in multiple rows, but we strive to design seating options that really encourage comfort and community. At Glenview, each floor is furnished with seating throughout the corridors. The top level offers communal seating options for patients to get work done between appointments or the care team to eat their lunch together. These types of spaces are attractive to the community and bolster retention for the tenant.

 

3. Natural light

Natural light is a proven factor to workplace well-being and overall health. Numerous studies have shown that exposure to nature has positive physiological and psychological benefits. We strive to give the clinicians multiple choices in terms of lighting based on their needs to align with circadian rhythms.

Paired with proper graphic signage, natural light can even help build a simple and creative solution for wayfinding, which can be very cumbersome in a typical MOB. This creates a more inviting and softer environment throughout the flow of the building.

In any MOB design, there is a delicate balance between daylighting and privacy. When it came to the Glenview MOB design, it was a challenge to control the daylight without losing that privacy. The major corridors are pushed outwards, which gave us an opportunity to put glazing on the façade. Within the façade design, we introduced a grid system projecting outward to maximize the allowance of light coming into the building as well as blocking unnecessary direct light that increases cooling expenses and makes occupants uncomfortable. This secondary screening system controls the daylight and visibility and is recognizable from different perspectives. By utilizing different types of glass, percentages of ceramic frit, and angles organized by serrated façade design, the building not only has an iridescent look to those who pass by, but it truly captures all the natural light available, making it a healthier place overall.

 

Natural light is a proven factor to workplace wellbeing and overall health. At the Glenview Medical Office Building, our goal was to give the clinicians multiple choices in terms of lighting based on their needs to align with circadian rhythms.

 

4. Sustainable and green

We always strive to create healthcare facilities that are as sustainable as possible. When a MOB is also an outpatient facility, we look at options such as green spaces, permeable pavement, sound reduction, local materials, and passive-shading strategies to incorporate into the design.

At the Glenview MOB, we pulled the outside into the design by including a large green wall in the communal atrium, a green roof with seating areas, and a room for conference space on the top floor with access to the outdoors. The green roof helps the building to conserve energy, reduce noise, attract different bird and wildlife species, and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. To make the Glenview MOB more of a destination, an exterior garden greets the visitor at the front of the main lobby. Adjacent, a retention pond also provides a unique user experience by its direct connections of outdoor and indoor activities. All of this, plus the ability for users to enjoy the space, is essential for the success of this MOB.

 

Medical office buildings can also serve as an outpatient facility. It’s important to include green spaces, permeable pavement, sound reduction, local materials, and passive shading. (Rendering: Glenview Medical Office Building)

 

Overall, combining both expertise in healthcare planning with innovative and progressive design leads to a modern MOB and destination for the community for years to come.

 

About the authors

Susan Limbrunner is a Health sector leader based in our Chicago, Illinois, office. She has more than 25 years of experience and is passionate about healthcare architecture.

Jae Choi is an architectural designer leader in our Chicago, Illinois, office. His career focuses on the design of large urban buildings.

 

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