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University of Florida Health Jacksonville

In 2006, the University of Florida set out to develop plans for a new community hospital in North Jacksonville, the only part of the Greater Jacksonville area without an acute care medical facility. The hospital would not only provide medical services desperately needed in northern Duval County, but also give the area a much-needed economic boost by creating new jobs.



“UF Health Jacksonville is part of the University of Florida health system,” explains Joe Thompson, managing principal of GS&P’s Jacksonville office and principal-in-charge on the project. “It’s comprised of a network of primary and specialty care centers, an academic health center, and three UF Health colleges where doctors complete their medical residency program. It’s a very large facility located in downtown Jacksonville, and the client wanted to build a new hospital on the north side of town—which is projected to grow by more than 7 percent over the next five years—to add to its existing services.”

UF Health Jacksonville envisioned a facility that would start as a bedless hospital, allowing for eventual expansion into a full-service acute care hospital.

“The long-range plan is for a 100-bed hospital that can be built out into a 300-bed facility,” continues Thompson. “However, the project is starting with a bedless facility that’s a combination of hospital and medical office space. The future inpatient bed tower can be connected to the side of the ambulatory center. So the entire campus will ultimately be a combined inpatient/outpatient hospital.”

The project’s first phase is designed as a six-story, 200,000-square-foot ambulatory care and medical office complex that houses physicians’ offices (incorporating both UF Health and community private physicians) on the building’s top four floors. The clinical services—consisting of an emergency department, urgent care, imaging services, women’s health services, operating rooms, cardiac cath labs and interventional radiology—is located below the MOB on the building’s first two floors.

GS&P’s design solution faithfully adheres to the phased plan, as well as the primary goals outlined by the client, including: creating an environment where both community physicians and UF Health physicians could practice side by side; eliminating unnecessary barriers between departments to reduce staff redundancy and increase staffing efficiency; integrating technology; and creating an economically sustainable facility.

Streamlining Workflow and Function

Aware that operational planning and programming would be critical to the success of the new North Jacksonville campus, the client requested that the operational planning include best practice models that not only met the expectations of the community, but also its physicians. To meet this pivotal benchmark, the team developed a custom design solution that focused on creating a truly integrated patient- and customer-centered healthcare delivery system that planned for future growth.

“The client desired an economically sustainable facility that could operate efficiently—and that’s exactly what we’ve designed the hospital to do,” says Thompson.

To eliminate unnecessary barriers between departments, reduce staff redundancy and increase staffing efficiency, departments within the hospital were designed to be flexible and boundaries were eliminated. The first-floor layout features zones for rapid assessment, emergent care, patient observation, infusion therapy, PAT, electrocardiogram, PFT, lab/draw and outpatient nursing, all within a single universal care unit. As demand increases, less acute functions will migrate to the upper MOB floors to increase capacity for higher acuity care. Primary departments were designed to be open-ended with connection points already established for future growth.

On the second floor, the interventional suite design supports the evolving nature of clinical procedures. These range from minimally invasive surgery to image-guided and endovascular procedures. The creation of flex space between each key room permits the continued, logical adaptation and evolution of these interventional spaces. Renovation can take place within the footprint of each suite, allowing the rest of the department to continue functioning during construction. Radiology, CT and future diagnostic equipment will have varying requirements for shielding and support space. However, the construction footprint can be limited and not disrupt adjacent areas. A modular room was established to meet the needs of DEXA imaging, mammography, nuclear medicine and ultrasound.

“When you think about healthcare on a fundamental level, 80 percent of it is delivered in an outpatient manner,” says Jim Kolb, GS&P senior designer.

“But typically—as an industry—we build hospitals around the inpatient environment and connect all the services to the inpatient environment. So by connecting the clinical space more directly to the outpatient service line, we are essentially addressing the nature of where healthcare is heading, which is reduced hospitalizations.”

Meeting Physicians’ and Patients’ Expectations

With UF Health and community physicians occupying the same floors in the new medical office complex, it was imperative that the design team create an environment where these physicians could practice side by side.

“The purpose of having community physicians and UF Health physicians working together in the MOB was to strike up a good balance of doctors with diverse specializations,” says Thompson. “Situating the MOB on top of the two hospital floors was an innovative move for UF Health, and it’s an attractive model for physicians. For instance, a physician can see a patient in his or her office on the sixth floor, and if imaging services or blood work is required, the patient can easily access the hospital below via elevator.”

“It’s also going to be the only Class A medical building in that part of town, and that’s going to be a huge drawcard in attracting top-tier physicians,” adds Mark Meatte, GS&P principal and senior healthcare planner. “Physicians will have the opportunity to move in to a medical office complex that has the latest technologies and all the clinical services of a full-service hospital—from interventional to diagnostic capabilities, and that should offer a remarkable convenience for their patients.”

“A patient’s impression of a healthcare provider begins before they ever set foot on campus,” says Thompson, “and we’ve designed the campus to have the aesthetics of a five-star hotel. The site’s landscaping will have a beautiful park-like quality, and when patients and visitors arrive on-site, they’ll be welcomed by simplified and intuitive wayfinding, which equals a very positive patient experience. The main lobby area has high-end finishes and excellent daylighting, and throughout the medical complex we’ve worked a lot of natural light into the clinical space and the physicians’ offices.”

Integrating cutting-edge technology into the building was yet another key design driver aimed at augmenting the overall patient experience. New technologies incorporated into the facility—such as point-of-care registration, kiosks and real-time location systems that can track assets, personnel and/or patients—all add up to an environment that enhances a patient’s hospital stay, and ultimately accelerates their healing process.

Creativity Beyond the Clinical

Along with creating a visually impressive campus that could be clearly seen from Interstate 95, the team was charged with creating a design that aesthetically reflected UF Health.

“To support their market capture, the client desired a sophisticated, forward-thinking architecture that represented their leading-edge healthcare, as well as the UF Health physician group and their expertise,” says Kolb. “We started with a design charrette that created a parti for the exterior of the building, and then worked very diligently to extend that idea into the interior and landscape designs. The concept was an abstraction of what you would see in the salt marshes of the region. We took that abstraction and expanded it throughout the planning, the palettes and the patterns. That same geometry was extended into the central garden, so you can see the direct relationship. In the end, we came up with an extremely cohesive solution that ties all of the disciplines together.

“We also tried to incorporate every sustainable attribute that would not add cost. One of those features was the central garden, which is a focal point consisting of three primary zones. There’s an area that opens up into the dining room and creates an exterior dining room, a second zone that has a contemplative, quiet space and a final zone dedicated to a fitness center designed for the families of patients and staff, which is fairly unique in a medical office complex. It opens up into an exterior exercise room, which we put out in the central garden, and several areas within the building will look down onto that. We’ve also created a half-mile exercise track around the perimeter of the site, so there was certainly an aspect of looking at the community’s health and wellness and making that a visible attribute of the project.”

With the opening of the ambulatory care and medical office complex, UF Health Jacksonville North is set to become the region’s first-choice provider for primary and secondary medical services as it continues to expand and add services in the years to come.

“We’ve ultimately designed a facility that delivers the client’s message,” says Kolb. “Architecture is essentially a billboard with very few words, and this building speaks for UF Health’s promise, which is to provide the highest caliber state-of-the-art care in a supportive and nurturing manner.”


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Project Info

  • Client: Landmark Healthcare Facilities, LLC
  • Location: Jacksonville, FL, USA
  • Market: Healthcare Design, Rural and Critical Access Hospitals
  • Services: Architecture, Interior Design
  • Team:
    • Joseph F. Thompson, AIA, LEED AP Principal-in-Charge
    • Mark C. Meatte, AIA, ACHA, LEED AP Project Manager
    • Brian J. Schulz, AIA, LEED AP Project Professional
    • Michael L. Compton, LEED AP BD+C Project Coordinator
    • Ray A. York, Jr. Project Coordinator
    • Kevin K. S. Kim, AIA Project Designer
    • James R. Kolb, AIA, LEED AP Project Designer
    • Carolyn Fleetwood Blake, IIDA, LEED AP Interior Designer
    • Penny J. Houchens, IIDA, LEED AP Interior Designer
    • Sarah A. Rink, IIDA Interior Designer
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