Kaleida Health Gates Vascular Institute and UB Clinical Translational Research Center
Designer: Cannon Design
Client: Kaleida Health
Location: Buffalo, New York
“Advancing the notion of what healthcare can look like, the design pushes, but is restrained. The interior is closely related to the architecture, reinforcing a sense of place. The futuristic research floor is inspiring, and the design could literally help save a life.” -Jury
Physicians and administrators from around the world are flocking to Buffalo, New York, to study the success of a medical complex that has removed the barriers between cardiology and neurosurgery, and between research, teaching, and clinical practice. Three institutions interact within a light-filled, nearly half-million-square-foot building designed by Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design.
Kaleida Health operates the Gates Vascular Institute (GVI) on the building’s first four floors; the University at Buffalo has located its Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) on floors six through eight; and the Jacobs Institute, which specializes in bioengineering and the incubation of new businesses, is located on the fifth floor. “In planning the building, we had a multi-disciplinary team at the table with the architects,” says Lorie Mariano, senior director of vascular procedural services at Kaleida Health. “There was push and pull; it took a long time for people to accept a new way of working, but they quickly embraced it when we opened our doors.”
A visionary neurosurgeon, Dr. L. Nelson “Nick” Hopkins has a leading role in all three institutions. “Nick wanted a place where different disciplines would collide and interact, and that idea drove the design,” says Mehrdad Yazdani, design director of Yazdani Studio, based in Los Angeles.
Fritted glass and baffles control the natural light from curtain walls that illuminate 75 percent of the interior. To achieve maximum flexibility in the floor plan, the architects specified a module of 31.5-feet-square by 18-feet-high, which is ideal for laboratories and procedure rooms, and located the service core to one side. They created identifiable neighborhoods for each activity and participant, using shared zones as connectors, and defining lucid patterns of circulation.
Interior designer Dale Greenwald of Cannon’s New York office employed varied textures, as well as bold and subtle colors, to give every user a sense of identity, while striving for an overall feeling of unity. A three-story lobby provides a dramatic entry and a suspended wooden cube defines a warm, enclosed waiting area for family members.
In the months since the building opened, it has proved a spectacular success, according to CTRC Director Dr. Timothy Murphy. “The design of the building is a catalyst for all the things we want to do, and this is a great place to work in,” he says.
Hopkins shares his enthusiasm. “The synergies are incredible,” he says, “and the building has saved lives. A patient who was being treated for a brain hemorrhage suffered cardiac arrest. Within ten seconds, two cardiologists arrived to take care of the heart while our guys fixed the head.”
While this story might seem unique, indeed, the fourth floor was laid out to facilitate such seamless collaboration. As Mariano explains, “procedure labs for cardiology, neurosurgery, electrophysiology, and vascular procedures are a few feet apart around the perimeter, and the staff and physicians occupy the central area. Typically, such specialties are in different buildings or floors of a hospital.”
Beyond the fourth floor layout, which has fostered team spirit among specialists, the stairs and atria further enable social discourse. Murphy enjoys the frequent encounters with other staff between his fifth-floor office and seventh-floor lab, and the weekly conferences he hosts for colleagues in five departments. “It will take time for people to learn how to use the building to their best advantage, as with any new tool,” Yadzani says. “We were designing for the future, and I’m now taking that approach on every project.”