Project Mission and Vision
Penn Medicine Radnor, designed by Ballinger, transforms a derelict suburban office park into a community-focused, sustainable, mixed-use development rooted in nature. The 250,000 SF ambulatory care center is designed for regeneration of both the site and human health. The building and its attached garage form a U-shape around a courtyard, integrating it into the surrounding landscape and blurring the distinction between indoors and outdoors. Floor-to-ceiling glass brings light and views inside, while landscaped gardens, walking paths and groves of native plants invite occupants outdoors. Inspired by environmental stewardship and biophilia, the design embraces nature, physically and philosophically. It fosters a holistic healing experience through a soothing palette, connections to nature, and dignified accommodations for patients, family and caregivers.
Recognizing the inherent stress of visiting an ambulatory care center, Ballinger took inspiration from the hospitality industry to create a healing environment that prioritizes the patient experience. Upon arrival, patients enter a light-filled lobby featuring a warm palette. Interior materials address functionality, durability and infection control concerns, and visually communicate tranquility.
The U-shaped plan focuses the public area of the building inward toward the courtyard. A circulation corridor around the interior garden enhances wayfinding and serves to orient patients. All suite entrances are situated around this courtyard, ensuring the patient experience is consistent regardless of treatment modality. Serene custom artwork employs color in support of wayfinding.
Research Used and Lessons Learned
Evidence-based design research has proven that the physical environment plays a role in our health and sense of well-being. Giving patients and their families a sense of choice and control, and their medical caregivers a compelling place to work, promotes wellness and contributes to reduced patient stress.
Ballinger’s healthcare planning team incorporated evidence-based design as they worked closely with Penn Medicine clinicians and staff to plan the building’s interior layout. Rigorous planning workshops with users informed design decisions, ensuring that the layout improves staff communication and efficiency. The design team assessed clinician flows to reduce travel distances and increase time spent with patients. By optimizing flows, increasing access to natural light, and including alternative workspace types for staff, the design cares not only for patients, but for the caregivers themselves.
Ballinger utilized immersive VR/AR presentation techniques to provide users with immersive experiences and a level of engagement and interaction that was not possible with traditional presentation techniques. The technology let the nursing staff experience various waiting area options years before construction was scheduled to begin. These interactive views allowed them to virtually ‘sit’ at the check-in desks – via web browsers and mobile devices – reassuring them that the design makes for clear lines of sight between themselves, their patients and the landscape outside.
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