UF Health Shands


Gainesville, Florida


Architecture, Interior Design, Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Planning

Opened to the public in 2016, UF Health Emergency Center – Kanapaha provides the local community with access to fast, high-quality emergency care. UF Health Shands elected to build the new full-service, freestanding emergency center in the heavily populated Kanapaha section of Southwest Gainesville to meet the needs of this growing community. Gresham Smith was selected to provide architectural and interior design services for the project, delivering a state-of-the-art facility that conveys the high-tech, patient-centered care that is the cornerstone of UF Health.

square-foot freestanding ED
exam rooms
trauma room
up close view of patient beds

Designed for Efficiency

Gresham Smith was tasked with designing an efficient building while providing a positive experience for patients, family members and UF Health staff alike. One of the ways we struck this balance was by using an interior “racetrack” design approach where patient-care areas wrap the exterior of the building and the shared-support services in the core, facilitating easier flow of staff traffic. This continuous-loop layout not only optimizes efficiencies by allowing staff to better support one another but also minimizes the number of steps for nursing staff, allowing them more time with the patient and reducing the total number of staff required.

three patient beds

A 911 Receiving Facility

In addition to optimizing efficiency, the freestanding ED was designed to provide the same level of care as a hospital-based emergency room. Because it features the same setup as a Level-1 trauma center, trauma patients can either be directly admitted to the facility for up to 24 hours or stabilized and transitioned to the UF Health Shands ED at the main hospital. Those with minor medical emergencies can be treated in one of three fast-track stations, which streamlines patient flow.

lobby seating

Pure Prairie in a League of its Own

In an effective contrast to the building’s high-tech exterior aesthetic, we worked closely with UF Health nursing staff and physicians to create a soothing interior design that distinctively echoes the nearby Kanapaha Prairie and its rolling grasslands. To achieve this, we used wood-like materials with a natural look, which are highlighted in the building’s main lobby. Large areas were created to display local artwork and photography.

exterior emergency signage

Catching the Eye of Passersby

In addition to creating a striking exterior both aesthetically and proportionately, we designed the building so it can be seen from the road—a vital factor when planning an emergency department. From the main entrance canopy that can be seen upon approach to the “Emergency” signage that’s incorporated as a building element in an elegant way, the building was designed to catch the eye.