Located in Marquette, Michigan, Marquette General Hospital has served Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since 1973 from a building originally constructed in 1915. After purchasing the aging facility in 2014, Duke LifePoint Healthcare performed an occupancy evaluation and determined the best way to continue providing quality, efficient care to the community would be to build a replacement hospital. Following the evaluation, Duke LifePoint solicited GS&P to provide professional services for the new UP Health System–Marquette, a 229-bed hospital featuring a clinical services building and a three-story parking garage.
“The city of Marquette has a rich railroad and mining history,” explains principal-in-charge Greg Gore. “The site selected for the new facility sits squarely in the center of downtown Marquette and is a former railroad maintenance yard—a brownfield site immediately adjacent to an area of the city that’s already undergoing tremendous revitalization. The new hospital will extend that revitalization to the west and become a focal point for the city.”
Responding to the Community
With a population of just over 21,000, the city of Marquette is the largest city in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The new 600,000-square-foot campus will be embedded in the town’s commercial district, which is largely comprised of historic one- and two-story brick buildings home to small restaurants and businesses.
“We were charged with designing a behemoth of a facility that will serve the entire Upper Peninsula,” says project coordinator Chris Hoal. “When completed, it will be the largest building in the region by an order of magnitude. Because it would be completely out of scale with what currently exists in the community, it posed a myriad of challenges, including the question of how to sensitively integrate such a large building into the natural and historical landscape of Marquette.
“Duke LifePoint desired a technologically sophisticated facility that projected the level of care they provided. Through conversations with the public, we discovered that the residents of Marquette wanted something more regionally inspired. Our exterior design solution ultimately balances both predilections through the use of white, modern precast panels in a way that’s organic and heavily influenced by the birch forests that are prevalent in the area.”
Responding to the Climate
With an average snowfall of approximately 150 inches per year, Marquette is known for being one of the snowiest cities in the continental U.S. The design team not only had to account for the possibility of monumental snowdrifts but also the extreme cold and winter winds that came with the territory.
“We were dealing with one of the harshest climates in the country and that was a big challenge for us,” says Hoal. “For this reason, we spent a great deal of time siting the building to maximize solar gain because the facility will lose heat throughout the year due to the climate. To offset the hospital’s heating load, we positioned it to take advantage of ample southern exposure. To obtain the highest degree of energy efficiency, we located the major programmatic elements along an east-west orientation, which also protects most of the patient rooms from the glare of the setting sun.”
Orienting the building in a way that wouldn’t cause hazardous snow-drifting was also critical. Project architect Brent Hughes explains:
“The current hospital’s maintenance crew spends months at a time pushing snow around the site. In talking with them, we learned about the challenges they face in regard to how the snow, wind and existing facility interact. Keeping this in mind, we rotated the new facility to match the city grid. This aligned the patient tower to better address the prevailing winter winds, which will prevent the accumulation of snow drifts in high-traffic areas such as the main entrance and public walkways.”
The bitterly cold climate also drove the need for two separate building entrances—a ceremonial front door and a very necessary covered parking garage entrance that will protect occupants entering the building from the elements during the long winters.
“One of our challenges was, if there are two entrances to the hospital, where do you put Patient Admitting?” says Gore. “We knew that if we placed it toward one particular entrance that it was naturally going to give that entrance precedence over the other. We didn’t want to create that experience for visitors. To compromise, we located Admitting in the center of the public concourse that connects the two entrances.”
A More Efficient Design
Originally a St. Luke’s Hospital, the existing hospital building had undergone multiple expansions during its century-long history.
“Due to the many additions, not all of the floors connect, which makes it extremely inefficient for both staff and the public,” says project coordinator Lindsay Hamilton. “Also, key circulation zones are mixed together. In listening to the hospital’s physicians and medical staff, we identified critical vertical and horizontal adjacencies for the new hospital that would better serve their needs.”
GS&P’s design arranges major clinical functions along the public concourse and separates staff and public circulation paths. The circulation pattern in the patient tower allows daylight to permeate the building from numerous locations and provides unimpeded views of the natural landscape, creating a soothing environment for patients and their families.
“Although the square footage of the new hospital is actually smaller than the existing facility, we’ve given the client a much more efficient design,” notes senior interior designer Julia Boren. “For example, nursing staff will save steps by not having to walk as far to retrieve medical supplies, and intuitive wayfinding will create a less stressful environment for visitors—especially first-time patients.”
Setting a Benchmark
Slated to open in 2018, the new UP Health System –Marquette hospital will provide Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with a state-of-the art facility that responds to the city’s regional and natural characteristics.
“This was our first endeavor with Duke LifePoint,” notes Gore. “It serves as a great example of how listening to our client’s goals, understanding their needs, and interpreting them into a holistic design solution elevated GS&P’s position to that of a trusted advisor.”
“I’m always pleased at the end of a project when I feel like we’ve left the community in a much better place than when we first arrived,” concludes Hughes. “I believe we’ve done that for the city of Marquette and its surrounding regions. And that’s directly attributable to the team’s effort, the input we received from the client, and the strong relationship that we built with them. It’s extremely gratifying to know that by helping physicians and clinicians provide better care to their patients, you’ve set a benchmark for healthcare in a community for decades to come.”