Interiors Awards 2015: Healthcare

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Legacy ER & Urgent Care
Designer: 5G Studio Collaborative
Client: Legacy ER
Location: Allen, Texas

“What was immediately apparent was the completeness of the solution, striving to address every room with the same level of attention to aesthetics, materials, and detailing. The design is pushing boundaries.” -Jury

Medical care and treatment constantly evolve, so it’s only natural that the manner in which healthcare is delivered should change, too. That’s what the founding physicians of Legacy ER & Urgent Care in Allen, Texas, believed as they enlisted Dallas-based 5G Studio Collaborative to design a new hybrid facility that streamlines the process of administering both emergency and urgent care in one place, and ultimately improves patient care. The resulting 8,430-square-foot building—architecturally striking in the midst of a suburban landscape—proves that high-quality design can be a critical ingredient in making this new healthcare business model viable, and it establishes a template for the future development of similar healthcare facilities.

Legacy ER was founded in 2008 by three physicians who saw a gap in the market for a small medical facility that would allow both emergency and urgent care patients to enter though one door, yet be treated in different specialized environments. After working with Yen Ong, 5G Studio Collaborative co-founder and principal, on their first groundbreaking design for this new kind of urgent/emergency care facility in Frisco, Texas, Legacy’s physicians hired him again to design this newest facility in Allen, just north of Dallas. The Allen facility can serve more than 100 patients daily with six rooms for emergency care, two for trauma, and five for urgent care.

The clients’ objectives for both facilities were twofold: to create an aesthetically welcoming and innovative environment for patients and to develop medical spaces for urgent and emergency care that could function independently. “We wanted what we called an ‘anti-clinical’ environment in which patients would begin to feel the healing as soon as they walk in the door,” says Jay Woody, a board-certified emergency medical doctor who is a founder and chief medical officer of Legacy ER. “By offering both services under one roof, patients don’t have to decide which kind of facility to go to. And if they need urgent care versus emergency care, which is more costly, they can be objectively directed to the right environment so they don’t rely on resources they don’t need.”

Ong began the design process by looking conceptually at the role of doctors in the minds of the patients. “There’s a duality in how a doctor is perceived as a professional,” Ong says. “First, they must be seen as competent to inspire confidence, but they must also be seen as kind and caring with empathy for the patient. We expressed this duality with precise, sharp lines that reflect competence on the exterior, and with blurred, radiant surfaces and lots of natural light that reflect humane, gentle qualities on the inside.”

Another aim was to support intangible healing, as well as to be uplifting for both patients and the 16 staff who work in the Allen facility. While articulating the angled, zinc-clad exterior, Ong also worked with interior designer Danielle Cross to craft inviting, hospitality-inspired interiors. In the reception and waiting areas, the edges of stone and alabaster-like solid surfaces appear to blur in the natural light emanating through skylights, which are detailed as frameless apertures situated at intersections in the roof. The natural light and angular skylights aid in wayfinding.

A sculptural mix of seating—communal clusters, benches, and individual chairs—offers visitors places to perch in the waiting areas. Patient care areas, including exam rooms with windows, as well as workspaces in the double-height administrative and staff offices, were designed based on evidence-based design research findings to create spaces that reduce errors, promote cleanliness, and enhance peer collaboration, patient accessibility, and data privacy without feeling overly technical or methodical.

Since opening, Legacy ER & Urgent Care has generated significant regional press, as well as interest among peers and investors. “The fact that there is so much interest in our model,” Woody says, “is proof that others think what we’re doing is good as well.”