Laminates help make facility timeless, durable

The $55 million Riverview Health Westfield Hospital project is special for several reasons for Erica Irvin and the design team at American Structurepoint.

First, it is the first new hospital that American Structurepoint has designed. The Indianapolis-based firm and its 450 employees specialize in “delivering innovation and vision” in architecture, interior design, engineering and much more. The firm boasts a compelling healthcare design/renovation portfolio. However, this is American Structurepoint’s first all-encompassing project from start to finish.   

Second, it is the first Riverview Health hospital built away from the system’s main campus in Noblesville, which is six miles east of Westfield. The hospital had been discussed for decades but finally came to fruition in the past few years. It opened this fall and includes 20 inpatient beds and a wide range of outpatient services.

Beyond those reasons, though, the project holds extra significance for Irvin, Structurepoint’s director of interior design:

“On a personal note, I am from Noblesville, and my mother was the president and CEO of Riverview Health from 2004 to 2016, and I have a lot of my life invested in this hospital system. This was a very exciting project for me personally because I could design a ‘first’ for my company and design a building that I will actually use, as will my friends and family. Hamilton County is my community, and to provide a building that will serve a need in this community is extremely rewarding.”

The 108,000-square-foot hospital is intended to be a one-stop shop, Irvin said, featuring a combined ER and urgent care, an inpatient unit, surgery suites, a full array of diagnostic imaging (X-ray, CT, ultrasound, MRI, mammography), pharmacy, lab and physician offices.

The overarching challenge in designing the facility, Irvin noted, was ensuring that it “is timeless and durable and that the products have a long life of use.” Selecting the right materials was critical, and the hospital features laminates, tile, solid surface and other hardwearing surfaces that will stand the tests of time and heavy use that are assured in a healthcare setting, she said.

The hospital also incorporated the theme of the Riverview Health campus in Noblesville by including a blend of the same materials and designs. At the same time, Irvin wanted the Westfield hospital to “stand alone with its own identity.”

“The name Riverview Health comes from the main campus being located on the White River in Noblesville. I wanted to carry that design through in Westfield. Many of the materials from the floor to the wall have flowing movement such as porcelain tile on the floor and the wall coverings.”

The design team and contractors had to remain flexible and adapt to changes during the process, Irvin stressed. For example, the facility was originally intended to be an outpatient center. However, as construction began, the building was changed to a hospital. The design intent remained the same, and the finishes easily carried over to the new design.

 “Flexibility is a key component of the building’s design. It is cohesive. Every area was thought out to have flow and similar design,” she said.

Changes weren’t hugely disruptive because the building was designed in modules so rooms could change functions and be switched out efficiently in the future, Irvin said. Rooms also can be doubled up for use, meaning when one area is open, it can be used as overflow for another.

Irvin was especially complimentary of Advanced Cabinet Systems, which fabricated all of the millwork, cabinetry, countertops, resin panels, column wraps and wall caps. “ACS had the same challenges we did when we were presented with a change in the scope of the building. They moved with the changes well,” Irvin said. (See related story on ACS.)

Asked about key trends in healthcare design reflected in the Westfield project, Irvin cited the use of color and texture.

“People are very visual, so a change in material and texture as you travel through the facility is key for wayfinding. Color choice is one way to improve the patient experience. The color palette has a hospitality vibe with wood accents, warm-accent colors and accent lighting. You are creating an environment where people want to feel protected, welcomed, safe and secure.”

Irvin used a combination of paint and wallcovering, with creams and tans as the base and lighter shades of blue, green and brown as accents. “Each play off each other from the floor, wall and furnishings to provide a splash of color.”

Irvin said it’s vital to choose finishes that will last. She noted that laminate and solid surface materials are being used on all cabinetry and millwork, with the laminate countertops having chemical-resistant finishes.

“You want products that will be timeless and maintenance free. These types of finishes will take the wear and tear over a long period of time and still look like the day they were installed and will be durable for years to come.”

Among Irvin’s favorite aspects of the hospital are the first- and second-floor lobbies, which are tied together with stone fireplaces and an opening between the floors. The first floor’s double-sided fireplace is built of limestone that matches the building’s exterior—“a great way to tie the inside and outside together and create that welcoming, warm environment as if you were in your home.”