A New Paradigm for Health Care Architecture

Jan 21, 2014 2:00 PM ET
Designed by AECOM and Mic Johnson, FAIA, in association with Cincinnati-based Champlin Architecture, the new Mercy Health - West Hospital takes a new approach to health care architecture, balancing beauty, culture and function to set a new standard for hospital design. Credit: Dave Burk © Hedrich Blessing 2013.

January 21, 2014 /3BL Media/ - The new Mercy Health - West Hospital, a new 250-bed, 625,000-square-foot facility, opened to offer expanded medical services to Cincinnati’s west side at its location along the I-74 corridor.

Designed by AECOM and Mic Johnson, FAIA, in association with Cincinnati-based Champlin Architecture, the new West Hospital at 3300 Mercy Health Boulevard takes a new approach to health care architecture, balancing beauty, culture and function to set a new standard for hospital design. Connections between architecture, natural light and landscape promote healing and root the building in its place, while the hospital’s functional planning is grounded in evidence and focused on maximizing safety, efficiency, energy conservation and flexibility for the future.

Located on a 60-acre, wooded site, the hospital’s large diagnostic and treatment base is designed to co-locate surgery, imaging, the emergency department and cardiovascular ICU on one level for greater efficiency between care teams. Two bed towers sit on this interventional platform, which features a living roof covered with native plants – providing an ever-changing view from the patient rooms above. At 2.5 acres, this is the largest green roof in Ohio, and is punctuated with skylights and light wells that bring natural light to staff work areas within the base. Accessible gardens are located adjacent to the front door and at the dining terrace on the lower level. In addition, a rehab terrace for physical therapy is located on the third floor, overlooking the green roof.

The design gives the new hospital a unique presence in its community. Inspired by Ohio’s tradition of art pottery production, the building features a one-of-a-kind exterior wall system – comprising 11 different colors and 19 shapes of glazed brick tiles. The blue-to-green color palette of the building skin pays homage to traditional ceramics glazes, as well as the landform and color of the valleys and hills of the region, merging architecture and landscape throughout the seasons.

Transparency between interior and exterior provides continuity through the hospital to support the patient and family experience. Ease of wayfinding from the front door to reception and waiting areas as well as public amenity spaces reinforces the healing process through the presence of natural light and landscape.  

“Mercy Health - West Hospital was designed with many features that have been proven to enhance the patient’s experience during a hospital visit. Studies show that even brief exposure to nature and natural light improves patients’ moods and shortens lengths of stay,” said Yousuf Ahmad, president & CEO, Mercy Health.  “This building is an important reflection of our commitment to bring world-class care to the communities on Cincinnati's west side.”

All patient rooms are private, and a combination of centralized and decentralized nursing helps keep nurses closer to patients. Family-centered care rooms allow patients’ loved ones to play an active role in the healing process and sound-proofing treatments reduce noise and offer a calmer environment. Expansive windows with low sills within patient rooms and family lounges further promote healing via views to nature and access to natural light.

Many steps were taken to make the new hospital functionally efficient. The building’s fundamental infrastructure planning is flexible to accommodate future changes in medical practice. Fully equipped, physical mock-ups were developed to test each major technical room for functionality, safety and aesthetics, and detailed planning decisions were based on best practices to limit customization for specific building users.

Functional and aesthetic considerations are seamlessly merged in the new West Hospital, creating a healing environment that is unique to the southern Ohio region. With a design focused on the patient and family experience, the building allows Mercy Health physicians and staff the opportunity to provide the best comprehensive care in an environment that celebrates community, human dignity and health.



AECOM is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. With approximately 45,000 employees around the world, AECOM is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world's built, natural and social environments. A Fortune 500 company, AECOM serves clients in more than 140 countries and had revenue of $8.2 billion during the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2013. More information on AECOM and its services can be found at www.aecom.com.

AECOM Technology Corporation
Ed Mayer, +1.732.564.3380
Director, Corporate Communications