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Hospital facilities a silver lining.

Still plagued by adverse conditions in the development and construction industries beyond their control, architects continued to find a severe lack of significant commissions throughout the first half of 1993.

As a result, many looked long and hard to find the few bright areas of potential in an otherwise bleak present and uncertain future. Not too surprisingly, one of the more positive areas turned out to be hospitals.

Perhaps the most recession-proof of any user field, hospitals continued to update, expand and realign during the past six months. As a result, architectural design opportunities arose not only for functional medical facilities such as operating rooms, labs, patient treatment rooms and administrative offices, but also for non-medical areas used for the comfort and well being of patients, visitors and staff.

Two interesting assignments of the latter type were handled by this office in 1993. One was an interior design project for the new outpatient Bendheim Cancer Center at the Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Conn. The other involved the interiors of two new chapels at the Mount Sinai Hospital complex in Manhattan.

Our task at the cancer center was to establish a welcoming, calming environment in the midst of considerable anxiety and concern through the use of color, textures, furnishings, furniture and art.

While furniture and materials differ in individual areas --giving each a personal character - warm colors, tactile materials, upbeat tones and naturally woven fabrics form a calm visual dialogue throughout. Signage is functional, straighfforward and unobtrusive; although institutional in function, patient rooms and public areas are designed to simulate the warmth, friendliness and security of a home.

The two Mount Sinai chapels provide a peaceful environment for repose by hewing to centuries-old design traditions. The chapels -- one inter-denominational, one for members of the Jewish faith -- draw on rich detail and visually muted decors to create a warm and comfortable place for worship -- appropriate for patients, family members and friends in need of solace, as well as for hospital staff.

Since the two spaces are located on different floors and are quite different in shape, we decided to make the chapels visually independent of each other. Thus, the design for the Peck Jewish Chapel adapts to its high-ceilinged, nearly square dimensions. while the treatment for the Hatch Interdenominational Chapel accommodates its relatively low-ceilinged, long and narrow configuration. And since neither space had any windows we created 'lightbox' simulated openings covered by stained glass to lend an inherent spiritual aura.

Peck Chapel's high ceiling allows for a triple-barrel vault with a gold leaf finish and indirect lighting extending from the entry to the Ark. Wall coverings are patterned fabric, with a green-leather chair rail and wainscot panels of English harewood. Hatch Chapel reverses the application of woods, with anigre serving as panelling and trim, and harewood used for furniture, altar table and lectern. Alternate wall panels are inlaid with multicolored woods to add interest and detail to an otherwise blank surface.

With the economy still stagnant, such projects will undoubtedly continue to serve as windows of opportunities for architects throughout the rest of the year.
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Mid-Year Review & Forecast, Section IV; architects find hospital design a dependable source of work
Author:Foster, Richard
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Column
Date:Jun 23, 1993
Previous Article:Redevelopment needs support of community.
Next Article:Co-op/condo parity needed in troubled buildings.

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