Since 1955, Baptist Health has had a strong presence in Jacksonville, Florida, with hospitals, medical centers, imaging centers and outpatient locations serving thousands of patients across the area. In 2013, with a desire to reach out specifically to young families, Baptist Health commissioned GS&P to design a 26,000-square-foot freestanding emergency department and ambulatory center in Clay County that incorporated dedicated care for pediatric cases. As a direct result of the project’s success, the client greenlit a series of freestanding EDs based on the Clay County model. The first was a 17,000-square-foot building located in the upscale urban retail center of St. John’s Town Center located directly off Interstate 295. The facility would also incorporate specialized emergency services for children provided by Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
“Baptist Health is moving the front door of its hospitals into the communities it serves,” explains senior interior designer Elisa Worden. “St. John’s Town Center is an established hot spot in Jacksonville that features shopping, restaurants and entertainment. It’s within arm’s reach of the University of North Florida as well as families who travel to the area on a daily basis. This particular location was selected as a direct response to the community voicing the need for emergency care close to home for both adults and children.”
“Freestanding emergency departments offer a level of care beyond what an urgent care clinic or physician’s office can provide,” adds project manager and principal at GS&P Stephan Gartman. “The idea was to provide convenient access to medical care for residents who have life-critical situations so they wouldn’t have to rely on EMS or have to travel far to receive emergency care. In the past, if a family in the St. John’s Town Center area sought emergency pediatric services, they would have to drive 30 to 45 minutes to get to Wolfson Children’s Hospital in downtown Jacksonville. This new facility brings both pediatric and adult emergency services right into their neighborhood.”
The site’s close proximity to and visibility from I-295 was also key. Not only would it give the community quick and easy access to the facility, it would also allow the hospital to serve as its own billboard and announce to drivers the specialized emergency services it provides.
Standing Apart from the Crowd
To create a building design that distinguished itself from other area retail health facilities and identified with the client’s highest level of hospital services, the design team studied Baptist Health’s other local campuses—as well as other urgent care facilities in the area—and evaluated the new facility in relation to its scale in the growing retail community.
“We determined that the building needed to be of a similar scale to other Baptist Health facilities so the size of the entry would communicate to the public that this was an urgent care center with the full backing of hospital services—not just another ‘doc-in-the-box’ walk-in clinic,” says Worden. “We wanted to reassure visitors that they’d receive the same high-quality care as at any of the system’s hospitals. In addition to the building’s scale, we achieved this through the material choices and sophisticated design details that were more in keeping with hospital settings and some of Baptist’s other healthcare campuses than your typical urgent care facility that exists in the community.”
Distinguishing the facility in terms of services provided is the specialized emergency pediatric care offered by Wolfson Children’s Hospital—a part of the Baptist Health system.
“This was an important corner of the market that Baptist and Wolfson wanted to capture,” says senior architect Bruce Pitre. “One of the client’s main goals was for the new facility to clearly broadcast to passersby that pediatric emergency services were provided within. It’s something that truly sets them apart from the competition. To make this distinction, we paired the Baptist Health logo with the Wolfson Children’s Hospital insignia and displayed them prominently on two different sides of the exterior where they’re easily visible from the interstate via multiple directions of approach.”
Another distinctive architectural element that draws the eye to the exterior, while at the same time reinforcing the Baptist Health brand, is the solid feature wall in the organization’s signature shade of blue.
“Baptist’s blue wall is becoming an icon for the system,” says Worden. “It’s been heavily featured in their marketing campaigns, and its introduction into this facility further strengthens Baptist’s branded message. Because of its orientation, it serves as a striking backdrop to the building that can be easily seen from the nearby highway.”
A Flexible, Patient-Centered Design
Easily adapted to any number of sites throughout the Baptist Health system, GS&P’s design provides separate waiting and treatment zones for adult and pediatric populations. Sixteen beds are divided equally between each unit in separate pods connected by a single, centralized nurse station that allows staff to serve both units with ease and efficiency. Exam rooms are laid out to streamline patient flow and allow fast tracking when necessary.
Acknowledging its proximity to high-end shopping and the University of North Florida, GS&P designed the building to provide a retail experience that appeals to busy families and students alike. Transparent glazing allows unobstructed views of both pediatric and adult waiting areas from the outside, projecting a sense of openness and convenience.
Inside the building, the adult and pediatric units each have a distinct look and feel that caters to their patient demographics. The children’s center features colorful ocean-themed interiors to create a welcoming atmosphere and reduce patient stress. The design of the adult unit highlights the high-quality materials and stylish details present throughout the building. High ceilings, extensive glazing and warm tones give the waiting and registration areas a soothing aesthetic.
“Our interior design team worked closely with our architects to make sure there was a cohesive link between the interior and exterior,” notes interior designer Jackie Maslan. “For example, the lobby has a 24-foot ceiling that’s capped with a metal wood plank. Inset in the plank are 2-inch linear LED lights. It’s a very clean design feature that’s carried through from the exterior canopies, so you see that same ceiling as you’re walking into the building. We also carried Baptist’s blue feature wall into the interior.”
An Iconic Structure
Opened to the public in April 2016, Baptist Emergency at Town Center not only brings much-needed emergency services for children and families closer to a growing local community but also provides a facility that successfully communicates Baptist Health’s distinctive brand.
“Helping bring innovative healthcare solutions like this to life is one of the reasons I truly love what I do,” says Gartman. “We worked hard as a team and also with the client to develop an eye-catching design that’s going to be a strong selling point for the quality of care that Baptist Health provides.”
“Gresham, Smith and Partners was very engaged in our project from start to finish,” notes Baptist Health Administrator Darin C. Roark. “They were there every step of the way. During design, they listened to our needs and helped us to build a truly iconic structure that fits with the local high-end retail environment, yet is clearly identifiable as a freestanding emergency department. Their attention to every detail was apparent throughout the process.”