Contract - Harmonious & Healthy: PageSoutherlandPage designs the new Chickasaw Nation Medical Facility

design - essay



Harmonious & Healthy: PageSoutherlandPage designs the new Chickasaw Nation Medical Facility

18 October, 2010

-By Jean Nayar


Universal healthcare remains a dream for a lot of people in this country, but for the Chickasaw Nation, a Native American tribe in Ada, Okla., it is in effect a reality. As an independent political entity within the United States, the Chickasaw Nation has its own constitution and legislative system, and one of the most significant commitments it has made to its people is full access to healthcare. Now, thanks to a new medical building designed by the Texas-based office of architecture firm PageSoutherlandPage, the community’s health needs are also served in the state-of-the-art Chickasaw Nation Medical Center, a $145-million, 358,000-sq.-ft. facility that provides top-notch care and also aligns with the Chickasaw people’s culture and harmonizes with the environment, too.

“When we started this project, the tribe was considering either renovating its existing facility or building a new one on a gorgeous piece of land that was inspiring and beautiful,” says PageSoutherlandPage architect Larry Speck, FAIA, the lead designer of the project. Since the existing facility was an uninspired old structure at best, the architects were heartened by the decision to build a new one on the beautiful 230-acre plot of land, and they fully supported Governor Bill Anoatubby, the leader of the Chickasaw Nation, and the other members of the Chickasaw government in opting for that choice. As they began developing the project, the architects immersed themselves in the Chickasaw culture, and, as a result of what they had learned, they were able to expand the scope of the project somewhat to include some civic components, as well, including an atrium-like town center and other public spaces, a spacious dining hall and various outdoor areas landscaped with indigenous plantings that enrich the well-being of family members, visitors, staff, and patients alike.

Among the significant findings the architects uncovered while learning about the Chickasaw’s way of life was the fact that the tribe sees healing the sick as a community effort. “They wanted very efficient, sophisticated medical care, but were committed to operating with a very patient-centric approach as they regard healing the sick as a community responsibility,” says Speck. This notion impacted the way in which the architects designed the medical center and patient rooms on several levels. “Basically, what we’ve created is a one-stop shop in which in-patient and out-patient wings along with a pharmacy, radiology, women’s health, pediatrics, dentistry, surgery, and mental health are all integrated under one roof,” says Speck. “Not only is this arrangement better for the patients and their families, but doctors also can see both in-patients and out-patients without bisecting their day, allowing for a more synergistic working pattern.”

Other aspects of the design that support the Chickasaw culture are public spaces enriched with Chickasaw craftworks and artifacts on walls and in display cases, as well as generously sized patient rooms, which are furnished with multipurpose seating elements, such as daybeds, to accommodate multiple family members and friends who visit and may want to spend the night with a patient.

To reinforce the healing effect of nature and sunshine, the architects placed windows high on the walls of patient rooms so that everyone, including a patient supine on a bed, could have access to light and views of the surrounding landscape, which includes a thicket of trees to the east, the swell of a rolling hill to the west, and a swath of meadow dotted with mature oak and pecan trees in between. Even parking spaces were designed expansively to accommodate the larger vehicles, such as pickup trucks and RVs, commonly used by Native Americans in this rural part of the country.

“Because the Chickasaw culture is integrated into the medical center in everything from the design of the floor tiles in the town center to the placement of windows and use of Chickasaw artwork, patients feel very comfortable,” says Bill Anoatubby, governor of the Chickasaw Nation. “Rooms with windows providing views of natural landscape also help provide a soothing atmosphere.
Large private rooms make family visits more pleasant and beneficial. Space for prayer and religious ceremonies is incorporated into the design in a manner conducive to spiritual well-being.
Rooms are designed to empower providers to deliver more efficient care and enable patients to more easily manage personal needs.”

The eco-friendly aspects of the structure were inspired by the Chickasaw’s innate sympathy with nature. “They’re people who know the cycles of the sun, have rituals to celebrate the seasons, and have a reverence for the landscape,” says Speck. “They weren’t really interested in LEED so much as having a green building that came out of their own values.” The massing and orientation of the long, lean three-story building were shaped in part by the existing contours and conditions of the site, but also by the internal operational requirements of the facility, in particular access to views by the patients and staff alike, with the entire landscape seen as a healing environment for all, including family members and visitors. All of the public spaces open directly onto the meadow, as does the chapel, which was designed to reinforce spiritual rituals that take place outdoors. To keep views pristine, back-of-house service functions are restricted to the short southeast end of the building.

The materials, colors, and textures of the building also link harmoniously with the landscape and the Chickasaw’s heritage. The exterior stonework, created with sandstone from four different local quarries, reflect the stone outcropping of the hillsides and the aluminum and copper shingles and sheathing echo the tawny, gray and silvery native grasses in the nearby meadow. Inside, the patterns and textures of typical Chickasaw baskets and textiles inspired the facility’s unique staccato-like fenestration pattern as well as cabinet details. A Chickasaw beaded necklace was the inspiration for the faceted treatment of terrazzo floors and ceilings in the public spaces, and traditional Chickasaw colors, imbued with spiritual significance, were used on interior surfaces throughout the building.

As the largest public facility supported by the Chickasaw government, the building has become an important civic presence for the community. Since the facility opened this past July, numerous tours of the center have been conducted, and the public space known as the “town center” in the middle of the facility has become a community meeting place where information about health care is shared. “The response to the new medical center has been extremely positive. Patients and members of the community are very complimentary of the beauty of the design. Beyond that, patients and providers have said that the overall design creates an environment that is conducive to healing,” says Anoatubby.

Defined with architectural features and motifs inspired by the Chickasaws’ handicraft and rituals and featuring an exhibition area dedicated to Chickasaw history and culture, the town center—and the building as a whole—have also become a symbol of the Chickasaw’s commitment to the health and well-being of all its people.

who
Project: Chickasaw Nation Medical Center. Owner: The Chickasaw Nation. Architect, interior designer: PageSoutherlandPage; Lawrence W. Speck, FAIA, design principal. Contractor: Flintco Companies, Inc. Lighting: Shawver & Son, Inc. Engineer: PageSoutherlandPage. Structural Engineering: Datum Engineers. Kitchen consultant: Ackerman Barnes Consulting. Landscape design: Clark Condon Associates. Graphics: APCO Signs. Acoustician: Shen, Milsom & Wilke. Furniture dealer: Herman Miller Workplace Resource, Scott Rice Steelcase. Photographer: Art Gray.

what
Paint: Sherwin Williams. Laminate: Wilsonart, Pionite. Dry wall: National Gypsum. Flooring: Azrock. Carpet/carpet tile: Shaw Contract Group. Ceiling: Armstrong. Doors: Algoma. Glass: Tri-Star Glass. Window treatments: Mechoshade. Workstations: Herman Miller, Geiger. Workstation seating, files: Herman Miller. Lounge seating: Nemschoff, Brandrud. Cafeteria, dining, auditorium seating: Steelcase. Other seating: Steelcase, Geiger, Thomas Moser. Upholstery: Maharam, Knoll, Sina Pearson. Conference table: Geiger. Cafeteria, dining, training tables: Vecta. Other tables: Nurture by Steelcase. Architectural woodworking: Custom by Precision Millwork. Planters, accessories: Peter Pepper. Signage: Custom by P&B Graphics.

where
Location: Ada, OK. Total floor area: 370,425 sq. ft. No. of floors: 3. Average floor size: 120,300 sq. ft.



Harmonious & Healthy: PageSoutherlandPage designs the new Chickasaw Nation Medical Facility

18 October, 2010


Art Gray

Universal healthcare remains a dream for a lot of people in this country, but for the Chickasaw Nation, a Native American tribe in Ada, Okla., it is in effect a reality. As an independent political entity within the United States, the Chickasaw Nation has its own constitution and legislative system, and one of the most significant commitments it has made to its people is full access to healthcare. Now, thanks to a new medical building designed by the Texas-based office of architecture firm PageSoutherlandPage, the community’s health needs are also served in the state-of-the-art Chickasaw Nation Medical Center, a $145-million, 358,000-sq.-ft. facility that provides top-notch care and also aligns with the Chickasaw people’s culture and harmonizes with the environment, too.

“When we started this project, the tribe was considering either renovating its existing facility or building a new one on a gorgeous piece of land that was inspiring and beautiful,” says PageSoutherlandPage architect Larry Speck, FAIA, the lead designer of the project. Since the existing facility was an uninspired old structure at best, the architects were heartened by the decision to build a new one on the beautiful 230-acre plot of land, and they fully supported Governor Bill Anoatubby, the leader of the Chickasaw Nation, and the other members of the Chickasaw government in opting for that choice. As they began developing the project, the architects immersed themselves in the Chickasaw culture, and, as a result of what they had learned, they were able to expand the scope of the project somewhat to include some civic components, as well, including an atrium-like town center and other public spaces, a spacious dining hall and various outdoor areas landscaped with indigenous plantings that enrich the well-being of family members, visitors, staff, and patients alike.

Among the significant findings the architects uncovered while learning about the Chickasaw’s way of life was the fact that the tribe sees healing the sick as a community effort. “They wanted very efficient, sophisticated medical care, but were committed to operating with a very patient-centric approach as they regard healing the sick as a community responsibility,” says Speck. This notion impacted the way in which the architects designed the medical center and patient rooms on several levels. “Basically, what we’ve created is a one-stop shop in which in-patient and out-patient wings along with a pharmacy, radiology, women’s health, pediatrics, dentistry, surgery, and mental health are all integrated under one roof,” says Speck. “Not only is this arrangement better for the patients and their families, but doctors also can see both in-patients and out-patients without bisecting their day, allowing for a more synergistic working pattern.”

Other aspects of the design that support the Chickasaw culture are public spaces enriched with Chickasaw craftworks and artifacts on walls and in display cases, as well as generously sized patient rooms, which are furnished with multipurpose seating elements, such as daybeds, to accommodate multiple family members and friends who visit and may want to spend the night with a patient.

To reinforce the healing effect of nature and sunshine, the architects placed windows high on the walls of patient rooms so that everyone, including a patient supine on a bed, could have access to light and views of the surrounding landscape, which includes a thicket of trees to the east, the swell of a rolling hill to the west, and a swath of meadow dotted with mature oak and pecan trees in between. Even parking spaces were designed expansively to accommodate the larger vehicles, such as pickup trucks and RVs, commonly used by Native Americans in this rural part of the country.

“Because the Chickasaw culture is integrated into the medical center in everything from the design of the floor tiles in the town center to the placement of windows and use of Chickasaw artwork, patients feel very comfortable,” says Bill Anoatubby, governor of the Chickasaw Nation. “Rooms with windows providing views of natural landscape also help provide a soothing atmosphere.
Large private rooms make family visits more pleasant and beneficial. Space for prayer and religious ceremonies is incorporated into the design in a manner conducive to spiritual well-being.
Rooms are designed to empower providers to deliver more efficient care and enable patients to more easily manage personal needs.”

The eco-friendly aspects of the structure were inspired by the Chickasaw’s innate sympathy with nature. “They’re people who know the cycles of the sun, have rituals to celebrate the seasons, and have a reverence for the landscape,” says Speck. “They weren’t really interested in LEED so much as having a green building that came out of their own values.” The massing and orientation of the long, lean three-story building were shaped in part by the existing contours and conditions of the site, but also by the internal operational requirements of the facility, in particular access to views by the patients and staff alike, with the entire landscape seen as a healing environment for all, including family members and visitors. All of the public spaces open directly onto the meadow, as does the chapel, which was designed to reinforce spiritual rituals that take place outdoors. To keep views pristine, back-of-house service functions are restricted to the short southeast end of the building.

The materials, colors, and textures of the building also link harmoniously with the landscape and the Chickasaw’s heritage. The exterior stonework, created with sandstone from four different local quarries, reflect the stone outcropping of the hillsides and the aluminum and copper shingles and sheathing echo the tawny, gray and silvery native grasses in the nearby meadow. Inside, the patterns and textures of typical Chickasaw baskets and textiles inspired the facility’s unique staccato-like fenestration pattern as well as cabinet details. A Chickasaw beaded necklace was the inspiration for the faceted treatment of terrazzo floors and ceilings in the public spaces, and traditional Chickasaw colors, imbued with spiritual significance, were used on interior surfaces throughout the building.

As the largest public facility supported by the Chickasaw government, the building has become an important civic presence for the community. Since the facility opened this past July, numerous tours of the center have been conducted, and the public space known as the “town center” in the middle of the facility has become a community meeting place where information about health care is shared. “The response to the new medical center has been extremely positive. Patients and members of the community are very complimentary of the beauty of the design. Beyond that, patients and providers have said that the overall design creates an environment that is conducive to healing,” says Anoatubby.

Defined with architectural features and motifs inspired by the Chickasaws’ handicraft and rituals and featuring an exhibition area dedicated to Chickasaw history and culture, the town center—and the building as a whole—have also become a symbol of the Chickasaw’s commitment to the health and well-being of all its people.

who
Project: Chickasaw Nation Medical Center. Owner: The Chickasaw Nation. Architect, interior designer: PageSoutherlandPage; Lawrence W. Speck, FAIA, design principal. Contractor: Flintco Companies, Inc. Lighting: Shawver & Son, Inc. Engineer: PageSoutherlandPage. Structural Engineering: Datum Engineers. Kitchen consultant: Ackerman Barnes Consulting. Landscape design: Clark Condon Associates. Graphics: APCO Signs. Acoustician: Shen, Milsom & Wilke. Furniture dealer: Herman Miller Workplace Resource, Scott Rice Steelcase. Photographer: Art Gray.

what
Paint: Sherwin Williams. Laminate: Wilsonart, Pionite. Dry wall: National Gypsum. Flooring: Azrock. Carpet/carpet tile: Shaw Contract Group. Ceiling: Armstrong. Doors: Algoma. Glass: Tri-Star Glass. Window treatments: Mechoshade. Workstations: Herman Miller, Geiger. Workstation seating, files: Herman Miller. Lounge seating: Nemschoff, Brandrud. Cafeteria, dining, auditorium seating: Steelcase. Other seating: Steelcase, Geiger, Thomas Moser. Upholstery: Maharam, Knoll, Sina Pearson. Conference table: Geiger. Cafeteria, dining, training tables: Vecta. Other tables: Nurture by Steelcase. Architectural woodworking: Custom by Precision Millwork. Planters, accessories: Peter Pepper. Signage: Custom by P&B Graphics.

where
Location: Ada, OK. Total floor area: 370,425 sq. ft. No. of floors: 3. Average floor size: 120,300 sq. ft.
 


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