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ATL
Digi

Atlanta
Digital

 

By Rolando Conesa, AIA, NCARB

 

Despite acting as safeguards of wellness, health, and quality of life, many hospitals and healthcare offices need more warmth, comfort, and efficiency that coincide with their mission. While skilled and selfless doctors and nurses work around the clock to provide necessary care, the spaces themselves need to provide a welcoming and stress-free atmosphere that puts patients, guests, and staff at ease. Research indicates that good design has the potential to act as an aid in recovery, mental well-being, and healing. What’s more, it can provide a more pleasant and comfortable work environment for the staff and enhance healthcare capabilities through updated amenities and technology.

healthcare architecture
The Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion at Boca Raton Regional Hospital spans three levels and encompasses 61,500 square feet, including a top-floor ambulatory surgical suite with five state-of-the-art operating rooms alongside 16 dedicated recovery bays. (Photo: Steven Brooke, Steven Brooke Studios, Inc)

 

However, designing and developing healthcare facilities can prove costly, especially when working with existing infrastructure and disruptive external factors. With vast layouts and complicated requirements, budget often requires concessions when it comes to aesthetics, systems improvements, and the latest upgrades. That said, nurtured partnership and philanthropy might be able to serve as a solution, and there’s no better case study than the hyper-efficient Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. Completed in 2023 and designed with LEED for New Construction, Core & Shell goals in mind, philanthropy, partnership, and human-informed design converge to raise the standards for healthcare architecture and design.

A Unified Mission

It’s no secret that good things happen when people come together, and healthcare facility design is no exception. At Boca Raton Regional Hospital, a cornerstone of the local community for over five decades, philanthropists Toby and Leon Cooperman were inspired by the facility’s impact on the surrounding community and wanted to give back with a physical commitment to facilitate the best possible healthcare — which is how the Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion was born.

Healthcare Design
The perforated metal screen that adorns the Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion’s primary façade is a nod to Florida’s tropical flora. (Photo: Steven Brooke, Steven Brooke Studios, Inc)

 

The Coopermans, committed to giving back, are signatories of the Giving Pledge, dedicated to addressing society’s most pressing issues by pledging the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Boca Raton Regional Hospital is part of Baptist Health South Florida, an organization passionate about compassion and commitment to the health of the region. Moreover, the project team of all stakeholders allowed the facility to be completed on budget and on time in a challenging global pandemic landscape. With genuine partnership as the foundation, the Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion raises the standard of architecture on campus and welcomes visitors and employees alike.

The Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion addresses a spectrum of healthcare needs with specialized clinics dedicated to orthopedics, urology, and colorectal care, offering cutting-edge, patient-centric care that keeps community well-being top-of-mind. This meticulously-designed facility spans three levels and encompasses an expansive 61,500 square feet, including a top-floor ambulatory surgical suite with five state-of-the-art operating rooms alongside 16 dedicated recovery bays.

It’s All In The Planning

When it comes to strategically allocating a budget, no matter its size, and ensuring maximum efficiency and utilization of space, the design planning and negotiation stages are crucial. The project team comprised of end-users to facilities maintenance, construction teams, engineers, architects, administrators, finance, and all other stakeholders employed a consensus-driven process where all teammates were involved in key decisions regarding design, budget, and time. The Baptist Health team was instrumental in evaluating electrical and plumbing systems to ensure economical and durable maintenance and upkeep. Due to the project’s development occurring during the COVID pandemic, an emphasis was placed on developing a quick response to supply chain, budget, and timing challenges and a strong process for evaluating alternative solutions.

healthcare architecture
Laser-perforated wooden panels function as intuitive wayfinding elements within the facility. (Photo: Steven Brooke, Steven Brooke Studios, Inc)

 

A comprehensive site clearance was performed on the Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion site, previously home to a collection of buildings predominantly used as non-clinical spaces. The site was reimagined as one unified development, creating a novel building tailored to the vibrant Boca Raton community it serves. Taking extra care to acknowledge that the project was guided by donor contributions, a strategic approach to optimizing the available site space within the constraints posed by zoning regulations and vertical height limitations was a key part of the planning process.

Consideration for impact on the surrounding business and community during construction is equally as important. A high level of sensitivity was required to accommodate the neighboring facilities that abut the site, notably including a single story rehabilitative complex, medical offices, and surrounding clinics, throughout both the design development and construction processes.

The Details Matter

Embracing more tactile and dynamic design elements, the primary façade of the Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion has been adorned with a perforated metal screen — a nod to Florida’s quintessential tropical flora. Palm leaves, the Baptist Health pineapple, and natural florals fill the metal screen and create a captivating art display on the facade.

The artistic metal screen seamlessly transitions indoors to meet laser-perforated wooden panels, functioning as intuitive wayfinding elements within the premises. Durable, cost-effective, and easy-to-maintain materials and finishes dominate the interior — it captures the electrifying spirit of South Florida through the fluidity of watercolors, the radiance of sunshine, and the vivid hues of greens, blues, and pinks inspired by seashells are meticulously interwoven into both the interior design and architectural aesthetics. Art installations and inspiring, bold design has often been regarded as counterintuitive to the purpose of healthcare spaces, but it carries the potential to accelerate healing, reduce stress, and create a positively stimulating environment for patients, visitors, and staff.

Healthcare Design
The pavilion’s interior captures the spirit of South Florida through the fluidity of watercolors, the radiance of sunshine, and vivid hues of greens, blues, and pinks inspired by seashells. (Photos: Steven Brooke, Steven Brooke Studios, Inc)

 

Location-specific homage can also aid in generating community interest and pride. Down the line, this can manifest itself in a variety of positive outcomes–from increased revenue to community support and higher levels of care and recovery.

When paired with visually-appealing aesthetics, the incorporation of biophilia elements and amenities adds another layer of care and positive impact. Prioritizing the outdoors was a key focus within the Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion — in keeping with the overarching nature-inspired theme, two distinct balconies offer patients and staff members spaces to spend time outside. One balcony serves as a serene respite area dedicated to the well-being of the staff members, providing them with a tranquil environment to recharge, while the second is a versatile space that can be easily adapted for various functions and events, adding an element of flexibility to the building’s layout.

The Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion design firmly establishes Baptist Health’s esteemed presence within the vibrant fabric of the South Florida community.

Prioritizing Intuitive Signage Efficiency

Healthcare Design
The pavilion’s roundabout features a fountain as its centerpiece, complemented by distinctive landscaping elements and native trees. (Photo: Steven Brooke, Steven Brooke Studios, Inc)

To truly make an impact and serve patients, visitors, and staff, the visual upgrade must retain elevated efficiency; a stunning piece of artwork is no use if it obstructs wayfinding, for example. To enhance the appeal and functionality of the Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion’s drop-off zone, a deliberate decision was made to transform it into a plaza that graces the building’s entrance. This redesigned roundabout boasts a fountain as its centerpiece, complemented by distinctive landscaping elements and native trees, creating a captivating entrance. Abundant seating areas, adorned with lush vegetation, contribute to the inviting ambiance. The resulting plaza will double as a space for hosting large-scale events for the hospital and community.

The adjacent 380-spot Eleanor R. Baldwin Parking Facility, also made possible through philanthropy, takes on a dual role, efficiently accommodating both the building’s staff, physicians, patients, and families, while also serving as a solution for the overflow parking needs in the area. This includes the added convenience of valet parking provisions, seamlessly extending its utility to the nearby emergency department situated directly across the street. Architectural enhancements have been incorporated into the five-level garage, including metal fins and screens alongside curated landscaping elements, creating architectural intrigue. The stairwells themselves are glazed and illuminated during nighttime hours, ensuring heightened security while adding an element of aesthetic allure.

healthcare architecture
The Eleanor R. Baldwin Parking Facility accommodates the building’s staff, physicians, patients, and families, while also providing overflow parking. (Photo: Steven Brooke, Steven Brooke Studios, Inc)

 

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A beacon of hope and health, the Toby and Leon Cooperman Medical Arts Pavilion and Eleanor R. Baldwin Parking Facility stand as a testament to the transformative power of philanthropy and resilient partnership in enhancing the health and wellbeing of a community. Informed by the specific needs of the surrounding area and input from all stakeholders involved in the project, the facility is a shining example of the profound benefit a holistic and healing environment can bring. Healthcare design does not — and should not — be emotionless and bleak. The clever use of color, integrating of art, and visually appealing textures, shapes, and motifs paired with enhanced efficiency and modern amenities can have a significant impact on a patient’s healing and comfort as well as the staff’s satisfaction levels while generating a source of local pride.

Rolando Conesa, AIA, NCARB, Vice President, Regional Design Leader, NELSON WorldwideRolando Conesa, AIA, NCARB, serves as Vice President, Regional Design Leader at NELSON Worldwide, an award-winning architecture, design, and strategy firm. He has 42 years of experience encompassing the design of a variety of healthcare, laboratory and academic projects including new facilities and expansions to major institutional centers in Florida, the Caribbean, and the States. Working closely with clients to design buildings that embody their vision, using local materials and details that help enrich the buildings within stringent budgets is a hallmark of his approach. His ability to translate complex programmatic requirements into efficient plans allows him to create facilities that are enjoyed both by users and visitors. In addition to architectural design, Rolando has considerable experience in planning, programming and development of construction documents and equipment planning as well as a forte in master planning, programming and aesthetic design of new medical facilities and modernization/expansion for hospitals and academic projects.

Rolando received his Bachelor of Architecture from University of Miami, and went on to obtain his Master of Architecture, Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology from Columbia University in 1984. His professional career started in 1982 as an architect at MGE Architects in Coral Gables Florida, which merged with NELSON in 2017.

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