Challenged by a 71-year-old hospital that could no longer meet the evolving needs of their providers, staff and the growing community, Baptist Health Care (BHC) called on Gresham Smith to design a new full-scale health campus on a 57-acre site in Pensacola, Florida. The state-of-the-art facilities will include a new 10-story, 264-bed hospital, a six-story, 178-square-foot multispecialty health center, a 48,000-square-foot behavioral health hospital and a 23,000-square-foot central energy plant. Slated for completion in the fall of 2023, the campus will provide greater convenience, efficiency and the latest healthcare technology to serve the Pensacola community.
square-foot multispecialty health center
square-foot central energy plant
A Multidisciplinary, Multimarket Effort
“First and foremost, this project represents a Gresham Smith team effort,” says Skip Yauger, senior vice president of Gresham Smith’s Healthcare market. “We’re providing comprehensive services for just about everything—from architecture and interior design to civil, structural and MEP engineering, landscape architecture, graphics and wayfinding, traffic studies and climate science consulting.”
Gresham Smith’s team included almost 200 staff members, drawn from every market and discipline in the firm, who designed the campus from eight different office locations during COVID-19, collaborating on the $615 million project via Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings. To optimize the design and deliver on BHC’s vision and goals for the new campus, our designers regularly solicited input from all levels of the hospital’s staff.
In With the New!
Built in 1950, the existing hospital has undergone multiple additions and renovations during its 71-year history. Challenged with failing infrastructure, inadequate patient-care spaces, and undersized and inefficient clinical departments, BHC envisioned a design that supports the Northwest Florida region in a way that puts patients and families first. We delivered on their vision through a design solution developed around value-added design goals that embrace the future with advanced technology, enhanced patient safety, resilient systems, and a thoughtfully crafted human experience.
“This project represents the single-largest investment in the healthcare history of Northwest Florida. Not only will new, leading-edge healthcare services be available to the region, but the campus will also have a huge impact on the local community and economy in terms of job creation.”
—Corie Baker, Senior Architect
The Centerpiece of the Campus
The campus is organized around a park-like town square that includes groves of heritage oak trees native to the Northwest Florida landscape. Founded in 1765, Pensacola’s historic Plaza Ferdinand Park created a precedent for the design, which incorporates a variety of amenities including walking paths, rehab areas and outdoor event space.
“Preserving the heritage oaks—some of which are hundreds of years old and up to 60 inches in diameter—was not only important for the client but also for the local community,” says architect Matthew Flores. “We saw this project as a wonderful opportunity to embrace and celebrate the natural context. Inspired by Plaza Ferdinand Park, we created a health park around the historic trees making them the centerpiece of the campus.”
Preserving the heritage oaks was not only important for the client but also for the local community.
A Nod to Pensacola & Its History
Wind-swept sand ripples, shifting clouds, and the way natural light filters through trees offered design inspiration for the movement and textures across the building facade. The variation found in these textures provides a “consistent inconsistency” that mimics the natural environment of Pensacola and creates a rhythm that softens the large facade.
“Similar to a skyscape, we placed the large components at the top. As they got lower on the building, they got smaller and more relatable. The exterior design not only celebrates the connection between water and the sky but also pays homage to the historical character and local buildings,” notes Flores.
Working Together in Harmony
The interior design emphasizes a patient-centric campus that promotes comfort and healing. At the hospital’s main entrance, expansive windows offer dramatic views of the town square, entry and cafe gardens. Warm, handcrafted materials like terracotta, wood, bronze and terrazzo lend depth and a timeless appearance to modern forms.
“The campus is designed so that the architecture and interiors seamlessly work together in harmony,” notes Flores. “Terracotta, which is a warm, natural material that has been used for thousands of years, serves as an important wayfinding element that helps visitors clearly find the main entrance.”
Senior interior designer Carolyn Fleetwood Blake explains the thought process behind the interior design:
“We created a healing environment by following the principles of valued-added design as well as focusing on the human experience. Having a clear path for visitors and patients was one of the main drivers of the interior design. We identified three key moments that people need to know in terms of navigating the building, which were the clinical entries, the nurse stations, and the entries into the individual patient rooms. We then took design cues from the exterior facade and created a unique vocabulary for each of those moments on a patient’s journey.
“We ultimately delivered a contemporary building with a hospitality feel replete with a warm color palette, and worked with the client to deliver a design that expresses both their personality and the ethos of their organization.”
—Carolyn Fleetwood Blake, Senior Interior Designer
Resilient & Designed to Last
It was critical to BHC that the new campus withstand major weather events. As the hospital’s existing building is at risk of severe damage given Pensacola’s long history of tropical storms and hurricanes, speed to market was key, with the client establishing an aggressive 48-month schedule for programming, design, construction and occupancy.
“From the very beginning, Baptist made it very clear to us that they wanted their hospital to be able to operate after any type of storm event,” says senior mechanical engineer Johnathan Woodside. “So, we conducted a comprehensive Climate Risk Assessment that examined rainfall projections 50 to 100 years into the future.
“Following the risk assessment and an in-depth flood analysis of the site, we responded with a resilient design solution that extends beyond code compliance to allow the facilities to endure a Category 5 hurricane and a 1000-year storm flooding event while remaining functional through power and water service interruptions.”
Our design also incorporates both traditional and innovative sustainability features—from the building orientation and glass selections to stormwater-recovery for irrigation and cooling tower water.
“We designed the facilities to withstand a moderate seismic event, as well as extreme weather events, in anticipation of future code changes,” notes senior structural engineer Jason Fukuda. “Although the current code recognizes seismic events can be rare in this area, this project places an emphasis on life safety and making sure that the facilities have continued operation—even if a moderate event occurs.”
A Campus for the Generations
Designed to expand and grow into the future, Baptist Health Care’s new Brent Lane Campus is set to improve the quality of life for generations to come. The 57-acre campus will also include a 90-bed behavioral health unit, as well as a 54-bed ICU, a Level II trauma center, and a surgery department with 25 procedure and operating rooms—all within the new hospital.
“We selected a team of partners that were world-class and Gresham Smith absolutely fits that bill. What I’m most excited about in regard to this campus is the energy that our team members are getting from it. The comfort and confidence that our community has in it, along with the care that we will provide, will be transformational—not only for our workforce, but also for our region and the patients who entrust us to care for them.”
—Scott Raynes, Senior Vice President, Baptist Health Care