Text description provided by the architects. The Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects is the latest project in the ongoing partnership between PENN Medicine and Rafael Vinoly Architects. Today officially marks the completion of the transplant house, which is named after the physician who performed the first kidney transplant at the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. The building will offer comfortable, convenient accommodations in a supportive community setting and at a nominal cost.
Conceived as a ‘home away from home,’ the site will house transplant patients at subsidized rates and offer comfortable hotel rooms where guests can reside while navigating these emotionally and financially difficult situations. The building is being partially funded by public donations and the design and construction teams (including Rafael Viñoly Architects) worked on a pro-bono basis.
The Penn Transplant Institute medical team developed the concept of the Barker Transplant House in response to the need for low-cost housing for families of transplant patients. As patients grow weaker – and, in some cases, disabled – while awaiting a compatible donor organ, they often become totally dependent on spouses and family members who, in addition to being their sole means of financial support, become their round-the-clock caregivers. Rafael Viñoly Architects’ design responds sensitively to this mission by maintaining a residential scale while simultaneously encouraging a supportive, communal environment through the building’s roof line, massing, and façade. This “home away from home” also offers familiar, domestic comforts including: furnished bedrooms, a family meeting room, dining area, communal kitchen with modern facilities, a laundry room, and computers with Internet access. In addition to easing the logistical and financial burdens facing transplant families, the Barker House will also act as a community center with some of the social spaces designated for the wider transplant community.
The building design seamlessly integrates the Transplant House within the surrounding 3-4 story residential neighborhood while also consisting of a subtly different volume. The courtyard functions as the central organizing feature of the design and is intended to create a prominent sense of place for patients and families alike. Guest bedrooms are organized around the courtyard, with each unit receiving a generous south-facing sloped roof to allow natural daylight directly into the room. All of the bedrooms are located on one level to allow for limited vertical circulation and a strong sense of connection among guests.
The Clyde F. Barker Transplant Penn House is one more addition to Rafael Viñoly’s already impressive portfolio of institutional projects for the healthcare industry including Stanford University Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center, University of California’s Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Building and the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research building (both in San Francisco), the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the National Institutes of Health and Princeton University.