Banner Gateway Medical Center
By Stephen Sharpe
This is an excerpt of an article from the August 2008 edition of Architectural Record.
The completion of Banner Gateway Medical Center last September provided the growing community of Gilbert, Arizona, with what the NBBJ design team calls the “next-generation hospital.” Despite the tinge of marketing fluff, the phrase aptly describes an advanced facility dedicated to healing and nurturing robust health. Autogenesis was the term the team coined to describe the scheme’s flexibility and expandability. With floor-to-ceiling windows in public spaces and maintenance activity all but sequestered from patients’ view, Banner Gateway lives up to the promotional hyperbole. Already, less than a year after opening, the hospital’s staff has twice reconfigured the interior layout for admissions into the emergency department (entry point for 65 percent of all hospital patients). And, probably sooner than later, Gilbert’s rapid growth will test the design’s expansion capability to accommodate more than triple the number of private rooms, from 165 to 536.
The design intent was “all about flow,” says Gateway facilities director Roy Tuttle, referring to the logistical movement of staff, patients, and the material necessary to sustain 24/7 hospital services. Critical to the long-term expansion strategy is the “plug and play” aspect of the design, whereby all mechanical systems are embedded along two edges of the diagnostic block, the larger of the 380,000-square-foot complex’s two main components.
Also important to the development of the project, according to NBBJ partner Mackenzie Skene, was providing the community of Gilbert with a facility designed to recall the more hospitable attributes of the Sonoran Desert. Skene says the design team chose the theme of a desert oasis to imbue the medical center with a resortlike tranquility, where patients and their families would find comforting distractions during their time in the hospital.
To satisfy their aesthetic objectives, Skene says, the designers looked to “regional specific influences” when selecting materials and cosmetic accoutrements to support the oasis motif. The dramatic centerpiece at the entry is a “waterfall” rendered in a fritted-glass curtain wall that appears to emanate three stories above the main lobby. The metaphor is expressed more literally at ground level, where water circulates through a man-made streambed. More water meanders between the virtual cliffs of the hospital’s diagnostic block and the adjacent patient tower, which are rendered in a variety of materials that mimic the range of texture and color found in the local terrain. The serenity of the outdoor space is exceeded only by the chapel, tucked into a corner of the courtyard, with walls that look as if they float above the ground plane.
Formal name of project:Banner Gateway Medical Center
Location: Gilbert, Arizona
Gross square footage: 379,000 sq.ft.
Total construction cost: $122,236,000
Completion Date: September 2007
Owner: Banner Health