As part of their larger campus expansion project, Swedish Medical Center approached us with three needs. First, relocate their existing ambulatory infusion clinic (AIC) from the main hospital to an outpatient facility. Second, improve their clinicians’ workspace and workflows. Third, give patients a warm, welcoming space for intravenous infusions.
And of course, this comprehensive project, involving both our architecture and interior design disciplines, would take place on a working medical campus. We had to move quickly and thoroughly.
As with all Ankrom Moisan healthcare projects, our inclusive design approach drew insights straight from the hospital clinicians. Collaborative design exercises helped them see the bigger picture and reimagine their entire working environment, from the bottom up, into a space that’s not only functional but meaningful and beautiful. These highly invested users gave their all; by the end of this process, one participant noted that they’d never felt so included in the design process.
With their involvement, our multidisciplinary design team evaluated multiple locations and presented a series of concept studies—relocation test fits—before together deciding on an open yet private design on level four of their First Hill medical pavilion.
This gave us the rare opportunity to fully design an existing space from scratch, turning an empty shell into a comfortable, inviting environment that feels more hospitality than hospital.
After helping users coordinate their transition to new services and a new medical office building operational model, we focused on understanding how to improve both the patient and the staff experience. The hospital clinicians knew precisely what they needed from their new clinic: a supportive environment with efficient workspaces, ready access to medical equipment, and clear visibility to patients. Critically, we gave extra attention to their existing and proposed equipment, reviewing and coordinating alongside facilities equipment planners, clinical engineering, respiratory services, entertainment services, and security services.
Some patients need to be at the infusion center all day, often over eight consecutive hours. We wanted to give them a comfortable, relaxing, calming environment as opposite from institutional as possible, and realized that the new building’s unusual perimeter could support this. Placing open infusion bays along the perimeter helped us take advantage of natural daylight and views. Inside each room, we created focal points through mobile casework stations and smart furniture placement, discretely minimizing the presence of equipment rather than placing them front and center. We also focused on improving staff workflows, designing better storage options and private staff spaces, also with ample daylight and outside windows.
To connect the new clinic to existing facilities without diminishing its importance, we redesigned the floor’s elevator lobby, widening the corridor and designing wayfinding locations that orient visitors. The clinic’s check-in entry needed to be an airy, comfortable, quiet refuge, especially for waiting patients and family, while functionally giving patients a private space to speak with staff (a niche at the desk gives people visual and acoustic privacy). Since some patients need more privacy than others, we designed enclosed rooms near the waiting area. These are separate from the infusion bays that sit along the outside of the space.
In a secondary corridor, “back of house” support spaces stow readily available equipment like blanket warmers while tucking them away from patients’ views. Since the new AIC is now separate from the main hospital, we even anticipated changes to food supplies, providing a pantry and larger space with refrigerators for box meals.
Aesthetically, our improved AIC design extends to modernized finishes standards aligned with Swedish Medical Center. We updated their standard palette, pairing blue with artwork, patterns, and textiles that express comfort and humanity while retaining function. Warm, wood-like finishes are cleanable. Fabrics are likewise tactile and soft yet coordinated with infection control.
Particularly during the project’s construction phase, we were heavily involved with both the owners, Swedish Medical Center, and the general contractors, Andersen, in order to best engage our end users and gather invaluable input from them. We worked collaboratively with these partners to mock up an infusion bay, including all the equipment to ensure that everything was placed in the perfect location.
As proof of these kinds of strong collaborations, construction continued, uninterrupted, throughout 2020’s coronavirus pandemic. Start to finish, the entire project was a team effort.