Text description provided by the architects. PROJECT OVERVIEW
The latest in a series of strategic development and planning initiatives by Boston Medical Center, this ambulatory building embodies the hospital’s mission to provide “exceptional care without exception.” Located on a highly visible site, the nine-story building represents the first phase in a long-term effort by Boston Medical Center to transform the image of its Albany Street campus edge. The building will set the stage for future improvements along Albany Street, including a provision for better pedestrian access and a better-defined, active street edge.
A SENSE OF PLACE AND HISTORY
Boston Medical Center has a unique history. In the 1860s the campus was designated to serve the city’s poor; the organization maintains that tradition, through its mission and commitment to community, today. The original campus was the result of a design competition (Gridley Bryant, known for several notable buildings and urban parks), resulting in the original Boston City Hospital, conceived as “pavilions in a garden.” The Ambulatory Care Center now stands on the site of the original Maternity Building. BMC believes in promoting public health through innovative design, which is reflected in the unique facade, choice of materials, and thoughtful use of art and nature throughout the interiors to promote welcoming, healing spaces and provide spaces for respite.
The drivers for this project were both operational and experiential. The client wished to consolidate ambulatory services dispersed throughout its two disparate campuses, still physically disjointed by the decades-old merger of Boston City Hospital and Boston University Medical Center. The existing Doctor’s Office Building was undersized for usage demand, and swiftly became obsolete.
BMC wanted to introduce a memorable experience for visitors: a patient-friendly, consistent encounter across the many clinics, from arrival to departure. This is achieved in part through the flexible clinical modules on each floor, as well as the public circulation along the exterior of the building, allowing access to natural daylight and orienting views.
Natural materials such as warm wood, stone and a tranquil bamboo garden help achieve a high aesthetic for this urban hospital, creating connectivity through mirroring the exterior environment in the interior public space. Perhaps the most engaging feature of the building’s exterior is the panelized terracotta screen on the south/southwest-facing façade, which combats solar heat gain and glare, and adds a varying degree of transparency; a contemporary spin on the traditional brick found elsewhere on the BMC campus. The fluid transition of terracotta panels blends the building’s unique facade with the interior, helping to highlight the lobby and welcome desk, immediately orienting visitors within the space.
A tribute to the campus history and its current urban context exists as a graphic wall in the Café, beautifully juxtaposing images of the hospital’s old architecture against the extant brownstones within the visitors’ view. A requirement of demolishing the existing site was to incorporate a historical display within the new Ambulatory building, to pay homage to the site’s past heritage and the medical advances made within the Maternity Building. The architect worked closely with the client and an art consultant, paying strict attention to the hospital’s urban context and Boston community. This collaboration resulted in environmental graphics and a holistic art program throughout the building that balances both tradition and modernity.