University of Chicago Medicine, Center for Care and Discovery

  • area / size 1,200,068 sqft
  • Completed 2013
  • Type Hospital,
  • Rafael Viñoly Architects completed the Center for Care and Discovery at the University of Chicago Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.

    When the University of Chicago Medicine (then the University of Chicago Hospitals) issued a Request for Proposal for a new hospital in 2005, the aim was to expand an existing facility. Over the course of the preliminary design discussions Rafael Viñoly Architects made a proposal to the medical center to view the project as an opportunity for construction that would meet the institution’s long-term needs.

    The resulting building occupies the given site and bridges across Maryland Avenue to an additional site to the west. This connection advances the hospital’s goal of maximum efficiency by allowing varying functions to be contiguous to one another and reducing the need for staff to travel between floors. The building was designed to accommodate continually changing medical technology and practices; in particular, the 18-foot (5.5-meter) floor-to-floor height and large 31.5-by-31.5-foot (9.6-by-9.6-meter) structural and planning module allows for enormous flexibility for reconfiguring departments and upgrading equipment.

    The patient-centered design is experienced on multiple levels throughout the Center. All 240 private patient rooms accommodate multiple family members comfortably. Each patient room has a sofa or recliner that converts to a sleeping space for one family member in addition to the patient. Achieving patient and family privacy was a design priority in the patient rooms, as was expanding the visual connectivity between patients and nursing. Shared waiting areas located close to patient rooms and nursing stations provide communal space for visitors on the patient floors and are accessible from the main elevators. The scale of shared visitor waiting areas was minimized in the planning of the patient floors. The need for these spaces is likely to diminish with the availability and proximity of family space within the single private patient rooms.

    The Sky Lobby on the seventh floor houses central reception, family waiting areas, a chapel, a business center, cafeteria, conference center and other public spaces. As the heart of the hospital, this Sky Lobby effectively lifts the social, contemplative, outdoor space of a traditional campus quadrangle into the air and provides visitors with expansive views of the university, Washington Park, Lake Michigan, and the downtown Chicago skyline. Architecturally, the Sky Lobby also provides an important visual break in the vertical mass of the building, as the interior spaces on this level are recessed from the main exterior enclosure.

    The Center for Care and Discovery’s design also supports retail and other commercial functions at the ground level, which enhances the streetscape and provides public amenities to passersby.

    Architect: Rafael Viñoly Architects
    Photography: courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects, © Tom Rossiter