University Medical Center New Orleans

In the double-height entry pavilion, the eye is naturally directed up toward a suspended, lively glass map of the city. Image courtesy of Benjamin Benschneider.

In its design for the 1.5-million-square-foot University Medical Center (UMC) in New Orleans, NBBJ incorporated a refined material palette that celebrates color, pattern, and texture as it references the city’s rich culture. The hospital, which serves a large number of New Orleans’s underprivileged and uninsured patients, encompasses an ambitious program that includes an emergency department, behavioral health services, a Level I trauma center, 446 private inpatient rooms with bathrooms in-suite, and conference space for neighboring universities.


Image courtesy of Sean Airhart.

Sleek white-and-gray paneled walls in the double-height entry pavilion draw the eye up toward a suspended, lively glass map of the city. A range of custom-designed moments reinterpret local elements, such as patterned carpet tiles inspired by abstractions of the state flower, the magnolia, and perforated metal walls in the reception area that reference ironwork details of the French Quarter.


Image courtesy of Sean Airhart.

Graphics and color likewise play a significant role in UMC’s design, with wayfinding aided by bold signage, such as the green, translucent laminate panels that mark the path towards Tower 2. While vibrant hues appear throughout, such as in the color-coded tiled operating-room preparation areas, brown-and-gray-toned walls and floors set a neutral backdrop. Considerable glazing and an internal garden space allow light to penetrate the hospital, illuminating NBBJ’s dynamic, playful design.