Contract - Designing for Health: An Urban Clinic-- Connecting with Community

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Designing for Health: An Urban Clinic-- Connecting with Community

19 April, 2010

-By By John Spohn and Megan Bell


Designing for Health" is a monthly, Web-exclusive series from healthcare interior design leaders at Perkins+Will that focuses on the issues, trends, challenges, and research involved in crafting today's healing environments. This month's article focuses on connecting a healthcare facility with its urban community. 

 Strolling through Minneapolis' Historic Mill District, one passes by the Mill City Museum, an array of specialty restaurants, and the new Guthrie Theatre. Across the street lies Minneapolis’ newest urban park, Gold Medal Park, which offers views of the Mississippi River, the historic Stone Arch Bridge, and Gold Meal Flour ruins that are nestled amongst the newly inspired riverfront condominiums, one of which houses the new University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic in its street-level retail location. A new urban neighborhood has been created, and the design goals of the Mill City Clinic were to integrate patient care into this environment.

This clinic was born to reflect the neighborhood culture and give back to the community. Conveniently located in the new Zenith Condominium Building, Mill City is easy to find, and parking is readily available between the nearby parking ramps and direct on-street parking spaces. Mill City Clinic incorporates art and healing to create an inspirational and inviting healthcare environment, designed to promote positive patient outcomes in a unique neighborhood.

Dr. Jon Hallberg, family physician and medical director at the clinic specializing in primary care, family medicine, performing arts medicine, and health communication, states, "My charge is to make [the clinic] one of the highest in patient satisfaction, if not the highest in the system." Working closely with Hallberg and other clinical leadership, the design team strove to create a healthcare setting that would accommodate staff on a functional level, while also developing a sleek hospitality aesthetic that would fit in well with the urban neighborhood. The clinic's modern design, use of light, and art displays are not only intended to make the clinic visually appealing, but also, as Hallberg notes, "Good design makes our job easier."

The design team aimed to bring the best design value to the project, exceed the expectations of the neighborhood for outpatient care, and incorporate this clinic as a part of the community. Designers struck a healthy balance between featuring tall storefront windows along the sidewalk that connect the clinic to its environs with the need for patient privacy. Shimmering full-length sheer drapes in the lobby adjust to the changes in the natural northern light, while the contemporary and relaxing lounge coexists with the harmony of art and medicine. Passersby are intrigued with the beautiful sculptures and artwork that they see as they gaze inside the clinic, and patients and visitors alike are treated to music from students of the University of Minnesota music department and the neighboring McPhail Center for Music, who are invited to use the space to practice. Professional actors from the Guthrie often use the space to study their lines and at times even rehearse. And the Nina Bliese Gallery has a portfolio of art on display in the clinic, which is rotated to keep the pieces fresh and maintain patient interest during each visit. Events such as Hippocrates Café— a production illuminating the essence of family medicine through song, poetry, and essay—have welcomed a number of visiting healthcare professionals to this clinic and this unique neighborhood. This production—designed to illuminate the human condition, particularly from a healthcare perspective, through creative, artistic means—is just one of Hallberg's ways of giving back to the community.

This clinic also sets itself apart from the ordinary healthcare facility with the level of care provided by the hospitable staff—a fact that is proven itself with very high scores from the last patient satisfaction survey. After being welcomed by the concierge, patients are personally guided back to a private consultation room to discuss and review medical information and insurance. Patients then are escorted to a private medical exam room, where a combination of daylight streaming through clearstory windows above and soft indirect light brings a sense of calm to the room. To alleviate apprehension associated with medical procedures, designers hid medical instruments from view behind a sleek recessed wooden cabinet, and books and magazines are on display for patients to enjoy while a waiting for treatment to begin. Comfortable, flexible seating arrangements accommodate family members, attendants, and/or interpreters who might accompany the patient. The layout of the exam room has been optimized to encourage the exchange of medical information between doctor and patient in a more personal, one-on-one conversation. The exam room is similar to an office setting with the articulating, flat-screen monitor positioned convenient for both doctor, and patient use.

Considering Mill City Clinic's urban setting within the art district and along with condo residents who are accustomed to contemporary color and finish palettes, the design team knew the standard medical finishes would not be acceptable for this neighborhood. Sleek flooring materials and deep wood tones in concert with a rich neutral background complement the artwork and soften the palette, while bold, yet calming textures work with the sophisticated lounge furniture in the lobby to help Mill City Clinic redefine its interpretation of a “healing environment.” Hallberg calls this project "the iPod of clinics— something that is beautiful, thoughtful, inviting, easy to use and navigate, and maybe even game-changing."

John Spohn, LEED AP ID+C, CID is a senior associate with the healthcare market sector for Perkins+Will in Minneapolis with more than 25 years of design /planning experience, creating innovative environments for healthcare clients. He can be reached at john.spohn@perkinswill.com.

Megan Bell, LEED AP BD+C, CID, IIDA, is an interior project designer at Perkins+Will in Minneapolis. She works within the Corporate+Commercial+Civic market sector and has experience of working on a wide range of interior architectural projects. She can be reached at megan.bell@perkinswill.com.

"Dose of Independence," Chen May Yee, Star Tribune, August 18, 2008
"Mill City Clinic Now Open," Barb Heyer and Emie Buege, Family Medicine Connection, January 2009
"Creative Thinking for the Healing Arts," Fellman Studio Blog, November 8, 2009


Past installments of "Designing for Health" include (click on title to access the full article):
• Designing For Health: Patient and Staff Safety in Behavioral Health Facilities
• A Harmonious Companionship-- Rejuvenating State-of-the-Art 
• Leading by Design – A Place to Flourish 
• Expanding the Definition of Sustainability to Include Chemical Awareness 
• 10 Strategies to Move Your Client Toward Sustainability




Designing for Health: An Urban Clinic-- Connecting with Community

19 April, 2010


Christopher Barrett

Designing for Health" is a monthly, Web-exclusive series from healthcare interior design leaders at Perkins+Will that focuses on the issues, trends, challenges, and research involved in crafting today's healing environments. This month's article focuses on connecting a healthcare facility with its urban community. 

 Strolling through Minneapolis' Historic Mill District, one passes by the Mill City Museum, an array of specialty restaurants, and the new Guthrie Theatre. Across the street lies Minneapolis’ newest urban park, Gold Medal Park, which offers views of the Mississippi River, the historic Stone Arch Bridge, and Gold Meal Flour ruins that are nestled amongst the newly inspired riverfront condominiums, one of which houses the new University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic in its street-level retail location. A new urban neighborhood has been created, and the design goals of the Mill City Clinic were to integrate patient care into this environment.

This clinic was born to reflect the neighborhood culture and give back to the community. Conveniently located in the new Zenith Condominium Building, Mill City is easy to find, and parking is readily available between the nearby parking ramps and direct on-street parking spaces. Mill City Clinic incorporates art and healing to create an inspirational and inviting healthcare environment, designed to promote positive patient outcomes in a unique neighborhood.

Dr. Jon Hallberg, family physician and medical director at the clinic specializing in primary care, family medicine, performing arts medicine, and health communication, states, "My charge is to make [the clinic] one of the highest in patient satisfaction, if not the highest in the system." Working closely with Hallberg and other clinical leadership, the design team strove to create a healthcare setting that would accommodate staff on a functional level, while also developing a sleek hospitality aesthetic that would fit in well with the urban neighborhood. The clinic's modern design, use of light, and art displays are not only intended to make the clinic visually appealing, but also, as Hallberg notes, "Good design makes our job easier."

The design team aimed to bring the best design value to the project, exceed the expectations of the neighborhood for outpatient care, and incorporate this clinic as a part of the community. Designers struck a healthy balance between featuring tall storefront windows along the sidewalk that connect the clinic to its environs with the need for patient privacy. Shimmering full-length sheer drapes in the lobby adjust to the changes in the natural northern light, while the contemporary and relaxing lounge coexists with the harmony of art and medicine. Passersby are intrigued with the beautiful sculptures and artwork that they see as they gaze inside the clinic, and patients and visitors alike are treated to music from students of the University of Minnesota music department and the neighboring McPhail Center for Music, who are invited to use the space to practice. Professional actors from the Guthrie often use the space to study their lines and at times even rehearse. And the Nina Bliese Gallery has a portfolio of art on display in the clinic, which is rotated to keep the pieces fresh and maintain patient interest during each visit. Events such as Hippocrates Café— a production illuminating the essence of family medicine through song, poetry, and essay—have welcomed a number of visiting healthcare professionals to this clinic and this unique neighborhood. This production—designed to illuminate the human condition, particularly from a healthcare perspective, through creative, artistic means—is just one of Hallberg's ways of giving back to the community.

This clinic also sets itself apart from the ordinary healthcare facility with the level of care provided by the hospitable staff—a fact that is proven itself with very high scores from the last patient satisfaction survey. After being welcomed by the concierge, patients are personally guided back to a private consultation room to discuss and review medical information and insurance. Patients then are escorted to a private medical exam room, where a combination of daylight streaming through clearstory windows above and soft indirect light brings a sense of calm to the room. To alleviate apprehension associated with medical procedures, designers hid medical instruments from view behind a sleek recessed wooden cabinet, and books and magazines are on display for patients to enjoy while a waiting for treatment to begin. Comfortable, flexible seating arrangements accommodate family members, attendants, and/or interpreters who might accompany the patient. The layout of the exam room has been optimized to encourage the exchange of medical information between doctor and patient in a more personal, one-on-one conversation. The exam room is similar to an office setting with the articulating, flat-screen monitor positioned convenient for both doctor, and patient use.

Considering Mill City Clinic's urban setting within the art district and along with condo residents who are accustomed to contemporary color and finish palettes, the design team knew the standard medical finishes would not be acceptable for this neighborhood. Sleek flooring materials and deep wood tones in concert with a rich neutral background complement the artwork and soften the palette, while bold, yet calming textures work with the sophisticated lounge furniture in the lobby to help Mill City Clinic redefine its interpretation of a “healing environment.” Hallberg calls this project "the iPod of clinics— something that is beautiful, thoughtful, inviting, easy to use and navigate, and maybe even game-changing."

John Spohn, LEED AP ID+C, CID is a senior associate with the healthcare market sector for Perkins+Will in Minneapolis with more than 25 years of design /planning experience, creating innovative environments for healthcare clients. He can be reached at john.spohn@perkinswill.com.

Megan Bell, LEED AP BD+C, CID, IIDA, is an interior project designer at Perkins+Will in Minneapolis. She works within the Corporate+Commercial+Civic market sector and has experience of working on a wide range of interior architectural projects. She can be reached at megan.bell@perkinswill.com.

"Dose of Independence," Chen May Yee, Star Tribune, August 18, 2008
"Mill City Clinic Now Open," Barb Heyer and Emie Buege, Family Medicine Connection, January 2009
"Creative Thinking for the Healing Arts," Fellman Studio Blog, November 8, 2009


Past installments of "Designing for Health" include (click on title to access the full article):
• Designing For Health: Patient and Staff Safety in Behavioral Health Facilities
• A Harmonious Companionship-- Rejuvenating State-of-the-Art 
• Leading by Design – A Place to Flourish 
• Expanding the Definition of Sustainability to Include Chemical Awareness 
• 10 Strategies to Move Your Client Toward Sustainability

 


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