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St. Mary's Hospital

October 2012
Member Project
Kahler Slater


Firm’s role on the project: Planning, Programming, Architecture, Design, Interiors 


Project Vision/Goals

The recommitment of St. Mary’s Hospital, a member of SSM Health Care, the first health care organization to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, to its downtown location came with ambitious aspirations. Expanding their campus to visually fit into their community, creating a welcoming experience, and providing the latest technology in an efficient chassis were all welcomed challenges to the design team. Close collaboration with neighbors influenced design and created a sense of community ownership. Evidence-based design principles were incorporated throughout the project, bringing to life the idea that good design in health care is perhaps most important in those areas where patients receive care.

Design details were inspired by the idea of neighborhood and the comforts of home to provide a comfortable experience for all who enter. The main lobby features curved wood walls, stone accents and hand-made art glass which embeds leaves and branches of the trees that once stood there. A two-story space evokes the feeling of a family living room, offering garden views, a fireplace, a piano and comfortable seating. Large private patient bedrooms feature sleeper sofas and ample storage for family belongings. Large windows, screened inpatient porches, family lounges with neighborhood views and a rooftop garden, all connect visitors to daylight and the healing power of nature.

The inpatient program features a new heart hospital, inpatient surgical program, integrated cardiac services, and cardiac care inpatient beds. The ambulatory center integrates hospital-based physician practices and provides outpatient imaging and surgery services, as well as medical and community based retail, all connecting to the hospital via skywalk. A new parking structure provides space for over 700 cars.

Through this project, St. Mary’s celebrates its’ rich history, while creating a more vital community and a preeminent example of what a healing environment should be. A two-story indoor Winter Garden was created between the original entry facade and the new inpatient expansion. Guests and staff are welcome to enjoy this respite destination, infused with the sculptural work of local artisans.

Research Used and Lessons Learned

Kahler Slater conducted a sound study using both an evidence-based design inquiry and primary research investigation. Prior to design, more than 70 hours of on-site data was gathered. Revealing more than 100 sources of sound in an existing nursing unit, the findings resulted in the hospital and designers adopting a “Culture of Quiet” philosophy for the new addition.

Containing noisy equipment, creating smaller staff communication hubs and decentralized charting stations with high-performance acoustical materials helps create a healthy sound environment on the new inpatient floors and promote St. Mary's Hospital's “Culture of Quiet”. Early analysis of the follow-up study suggests measurable improvements have been made by careful location of equipment and elevators, as well as access systems to avoid the need for noisy keys. In addition, election of flooring materials has allowed quieter floor cleaning procedures.