The Next Evolutionary Stage for NYU Med

Reports from the Field by • 10/13

Event: A New Standard of Design Care
Location: Center for Architecture, 10.04.10
Speakers: Vicki Match Suna, AIA — New York University Langone Medical Center; Duncan Hazard, AIA — Ennead Architects; Joan Saba, AIA — NBBJ
Organizers: Center for Architecture
Sponsor: Kramer Levin

NYU

NYU Langone Medical Center.

Courtesy NYU Langone Medical Center

After a discussion of NYU Langone Medical Center’s expansion plans, from a presentation of the site’s history to a blizzard of renderings, plans, and sections for the new Helen and Martin Kimmel Pavilion, Ennead’s Duncan Hazard, AIA, casually mentioned, “None of this is designed yet.” The 10-year plan to modernize the university’s East Side campus with a world-class acute-care facility, plus a renovation of the existing Tisch Hospital building, is just getting under way. The presentation by a team including Heritage Ball honoree Vicki Match Suna, AIA, and NBBJ’s Joan Saba, AIA, involved planning documents, not final designs; some components may change. But even at this early stage, the project promises to make NYU Langone a focal point in the specialized art of advancing the healing professions through design.

It’s a challenging site, complicated by Amtrak’s two Northeast Corridor tunnels, storm sewers, the nearby FDR Drive, and soil conditions precluding basements. There are also the existing buildings, which have appeared over multiple expansion stages since the Skidmore Owings & Merrill master plan for the campus first took shape in 1949. Now, the combination of medicine’s technical advances, new standards for outpatient and emergency care, and an increasing awareness of synergies between medical and environmental values (the green element in a campus not only improves its energy profile but enhances patients’ experience) have raised the stakes for architects working in this complex area.

With the institution’s integrated mission of patient care, teaching, and research requirements, architects are working closely with Design and Operational Strategic Teams comprising representatives of clinical departments. Evidence-based design, based on precise studies of how hospitals’ physical and operational features affect patient outcomes, is guiding many decisions. Modular same-handed room design can reduce staff errors; rethinking procedures along “lean management” principles incorporates strategies for infection control and minimizing patient handoffs between personnel.

State-of-the-art operation/procedure rooms, 12 to a floor, will accommodate broad ranges of surgical and other forms of care. Bed floors, delineated as a distinct volume atop a podium of procedural floors, use a floor plan resembling two open parallelograms, cracked at the center to offer patients a maximum of light and views. Connections between Kimmel and Tisch incorporate a central hallway spine to simplify patients’ wayfinding. The seventh floor will provide a roof terrace, one of Kimmel’s more prominent green features.

The campus transformation will take place within an active teaching-hospital environment; demolitions and relocations require multiple two-step processes to avoid disrupting operations. The East Side’s hospital district is about to endure some tricky transitional years, but Suna and her colleagues are giving NYU and the city an impressively coherent vision.

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