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Community Health Systems

A Client Becomes a Partner in Design

The functionality of our training center combined with the aesthetics of our lobby and work floors provides our team a professional and comfortable environment. - Wayne T. Smith, CHS Chairman, President and CEO

Wayne T. Smith, Chairman, President and CEO of Community Health Systems (CHS), is passionate about postmodern design. So when his rapidly expanding company outgrew its Brentwood, Tennessee, offices, he wanted the design of the new headquarters to incorporate the postmodern aesthetic—the key element of his charge to the GS&P design team.

The GS&P design team, headed by Steve Johnson, AIA, with Ramona Batt, IIDA, as project interior designer, was tasked with transforming a shell space and partially fitted first-floor lobby into CHS’s new Franklin, Tennessee, home. The team was involved in all aspects of the workplace strategy, interior architecture, interior design and furniture selection.
Entering the lobby, one sees rich woods and polished stone floors. Portals have been carved into walls and crowned with heavy square coffered ceilings. Light wood tones combine with medium tones for contrast, and forms created of painted gypsum board add interest to an otherwise simple space.

Smith wanted people arriving on the seventh floor from the elevator to be able to look left or right to the ends of the building and see outside to the rolling hills of middle Tennessee. So the designers cut apertures through all walls that stood between the central elevator lobby and the exterior windows. The apertures themselves take on the aspect of a sculpture with a receding interior, and the team was able to replicate these apertures, although in simpler form, on all other floors.

Smith also wanted a staircase connecting the executive floors, so the GS&P team, knowing him to be an avid art lover, decided to create a functional sculpture in the form of a spiral staircase. In order to keep within the budget, gypsum board was sculptured into a form that appears as a giant stylized conch shell. The result is sinuous and elegant, very much a work of art.

A conference/training center for headquarter employees and those traveling from distant CHS hospitals was constructed adjacent to the main reception area on the ground floor. It includes several large conference and training rooms flanked by smaller spaces that can be used for breakout sessions or smaller meetings. The team incorporated lounge areas for breaks, phone calls, impromptu meetings or brief laptop usage. An office provided strictly for the use of visitors attending training sessions or conferences avoids disrupting headquarter employees when a private office is temporarily needed. The center’s amenities include refreshment areas and a pantry used for luncheon preparations. Finally, a large coat/luggage room greets grateful out-of-town visitors loaded down with carry-on luggage.

The success of the workplace design reflects the team’s understanding of the CHS culture and, as Batt recalls, Smith’s clear vision and dedication to partnership. “Like many projects, we had to balance scope with budget, but the entire process was all positive. The team got along very well and the client knew exactly what he wanted. It was challenging to have a client with such strong vision, and rewarding to have designed a space that brought it to life.”

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Project Info

  • Client: Community Health Systems
  • Location: Franklin, TN, USA
  • Market: Corporate + Urban Design
  • Services: Interior Design, Workplace Strategy
  • Team:
    • Steven P. Johnson, AIA Principal-in-Charge
    • Anna S. Roberts, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP Project Manager
    • Ramona Ramaker Batt, IIDA, LEED AP Project Manager
    • Jim Alderman, SEGD Environmental Graphics Designer
    • Betty Crawford Environmental Graphics Designer
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