“The facility would be located approximately seven miles from the world-renowned Pyramids at Giza,” says Frank Swaans, GS&P senior healthcare planner. “GS&P was asked to develop preliminary design concepts to be used for marketing the project to potential investors. Ash Ewida, an Egyptian physician who partnered with AHMC for the project, had the vision for this ultra-modern healthcare facility that also reflects the Egyptian region and culture.”
Tasked with designing a leading-edge medical facility that responds to the cultural and historic significance of the region, the GS&P team began exploring design solutions that would not only allow the Egyptian American Medical Center to reflect ancient and modern Egyptian architectural influences, but also withstand the effects of an unforgiving desert environment.
“Satellite views of this region reveal a harsh, desolate climate, with little water and almost no relief from the sun, so it was especially important to give the facility the feeling of a healing oasis,” says Greg Wieland, GS&P design principal. “As we began developing the design concept of a building in the desert, we looked at the remnants of ancient buildings—such as the pyramids—that had managed to survive for centuries.
“It may sound a little unusual, but what we liked about those structures was the deterioration and erosion caused by the desert winds and sun, which had sculpted the buildings into new forms. So we thought it would be interesting to shape the mass of the building to appear as if it had been weathered over time by wind and sand. To accomplish this look, the building developed into a fragmented series of forms to represent the wearing-away erosion effect, which ultimately created the overall form, and resulted in an open space in the center of the composition for the building’s oasis-like main entry.”
Various solar shading techniques were researched and modeled in digital 3-D to assess their physical appearance, as well as their ability to shade outdoor and indoor spaces from the desert sun.
“The result of our research is an integrated solar shade that acts like a supersized, energy-saving umbrella that is completely separate and extends over the entire complex,” says Wieland. “We also elevated the entire structure above the desert floor to enable shaded parking below, and to create a stronger profile image as seen from the highway.
“The main access driveway to the building is ramped, leading to the entrance’s oasis-like courtyard that features the main hospital and MOB visitor drop-off areas. We wanted there to be an arrival sequence that led to the grand entry courtyard, so as you arrive onto the property, you see the building evolve in front of you. You then turn into this shaded oasis and are greeted by water fountains and the lush greenery of trees and plants. The materials we chose for the courtyard surfaces and lobby have a shiny, wet appearance, which is a complete contrast to the outside environment, and reinforces the oasis in the desert concept.”
“We also wanted to design a building that looked like it belonged in this part of the world,” adds GS&P senior architect David Stewart. “The palette that we used—all the colors and materials—had to be very contextual, so when you look at the building you know that it’s not in Chicago or China—you can tell it’s in Egypt, and it looks like it fits perfectly there. Even having the integrated solar shade recognizes the Middle East location.”
In addition to responding to ancient Egyptian architectural influences, the client sought a design that reflected the culture of the region.
“The client had also asked for an Islamic-type building,” says Swaans. “So we incorporated motifs inherent to the Islamic culture into the design. Some of those shapes and forms were used in the building’s walls and façade. In some places they will affect how light filters into the building.”
“We’ve also integrated a lot of modern details into the design,” adds GS&P project team member Paul Legan. “Some of the intricate details and the use of glass hint toward the fact that this is a modern, technologically advanced facility.”
A World-Class Medical Destination
Geared toward a growing medical tourism market, the proposed 40,000-square-meter, five-story medical center has been designed to include a full-service, 182-bed hospital; a 100-physician medical office building; a comprehensive cancer center; a spa/wellness center; and a conference/education center. Additionally, the design team programed the facility to include 138 private patient rooms, seven state-of-the-art operating suites, a 20-room emergency department and a Level IIIB neonatal intensive care unit.
“As a collaborative Egyptian-American venture, the EAMC has the opportunity to build a healthcare brand both locally and globally,” says Swaans. “We’ve designed a world-class medical destination—well equipped for a wide variety of medical services and procedures—that will meet the medical and technological needs of both local and international markets.
“The EAMC plans to give physicians an opportunity for part ownership in this facility, which is rare in Egypt. It’s set to attract a lot of top-tier physicians, along with patients who typically pursue healthcare outside of Egyptian borders. I believe many Americans will seek out the hospital because it will offer competitively priced and high-quality healthcare, and they’ll receive the same level of care they’d get in a top U.S. hospital. If you go to just any hospital in Cairo, you may not get that level of quality care. So there will be quality measures in place that patients will be able to count on. That’s something that expatriates, medical tourists or even diplomats would look for.”
“You have to have a world-class facility in order to attract world-class physicians,” adds Stewart. “If you don’t have those top-tier physicians, it’s going to be extremely hard to attract patients. So it really is all tied together.
“Egypt has obviously gone through a lot of political unrest in recent times, but the flipside of that is there is a lot of opportunity in the country—and the EAMC is one of those opportunities. Even though there are some major changes taking place, people are still looking to invest there. And they’re looking to build.”
Intriguing, eye-catching and bold, the Egyptian American Medical Center has been designed to enhance the quality of patient care and serve the needs of clinical staff. Inspired by ancient Egyptian architecture, GS&P’s iconic design enables a healing environment within a technologically advanced medical facility.
“With this preliminary design concept, the ultimate goal was planning and design that brings together technology and art, creating a cutting-edge healthcare facility,” says Swaans. “I truly believe we’ve designed a facility that honors the EAMC’s mission to deliver high-quality healthcare to as many people as they can reach.”