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Shanghai Launches Medical Support Center

Aerial view of the Shared Facility, the central building in a medical campus in Shanghai, featuring a green roof
The Shared Facility, the central building in a medical campus in Shanghai, will feature a green roof and multiple vegetated terraces, making the building appear as if it is part of the natural landscape. Gresham, Smith & Partners

In developing a master plan for a new medical campus in Shanghai, China, designers conceived a shared facility that will bring the surrounding hospitals’ service functions under one roof.

September 17, 2013—As China’s middle class expands, people are beginning to expect more from the nation’s health care system. The government is responding in part by developing a contemporary 100 ha medical campus in Shanghai’s Minhang district that will comprise a number of hospitals arranged around an innovative support facility. Construction work on this facility is now under way.

The Shared Facility, as it is called, will be located at the center of the Shanghai New Hongqiao International Medical Center, which is being developed by a branch of the Minhang district’s health bureau. The bureau held a design competition for a feasibility study to analyze the practicability of developing such a campus, and it awarded the study to Gresham, Smith and Partners (GS&P), an architecture and engineering firm that is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, and has an office in Shanghai. Once the feasibility was confirmed, the bureau then held a second competition for the campus’s master plan, and this project too was awarded to GS&P. “As we went through the process, we were really challenged to develop a new way of organizing health care,” says David Stewart, AIA, LEED AP, a principal and senior architect for GS&P.

While the health bureau will own the campus, the four hospitals will each be owned separately. As the design team developed the master plan, it realized that each hospital would probably have its own supply docks, pharmacy, imaging center, materials distribution center, and other support services. Rather than duplicating such services throughout the campus, the team conceived the idea of a shared facility for those types of functions to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Enclosed elevated walkways and underground corridors will connect the facility to each of the surrounding hospitals. “The goal is really to bring all of the materials and supply functions, as well as clinical functions, into this one facility to provide a comprehensive support system for each of the campus hospitals,” Stewart says. “Making sure that the process would be efficient was a bit of a challenge, but it’s something we worked through with the campus owner as well as the hospital owners and operators.” The bureau then held a third competition for the design of the shared facility, and again GS&P emerged the winner.

The 88,000 m2 Shared Facility will have two floors below grade and eight floors above. The two belowground floors will provide space for parking, mechanical systems, storage, and a dock with a large area for distributing materials. The highlight of the ground floor will be a three-story, glass-covered atrium that will not only bring in natural light but also help employees and visitors orient themselves. The clinical suites will be housed on floors that form a U shape around the atrium.

Interior rendering of the Shared Facility's Atrium

A glass-capped, three-story atrium will allow daylight to flood the
Shared Facility’s lobby. Gresham, Smith & Partners

The ground floor will also house a large pharmacy, a food service area, and conference and exhibition spaces. The second floor will have some outpatient clinical spaces but for the most part will be occupied by a comprehensive imaging center. On the third floor, an independent company will operate a large laboratory, which will serve not only the campus hospitals but also other health care facilities in Shanghai. The center’s upper floors will house additional clinics. “There are different levels of clinical spaces,” Stewart says. “Some of that is still being developed, but most of it is laid out for physicians to be able to practice there.”

The Shared Facility is the first building on the campus for which ground has been broken, and it is meant to set the standard for the surrounding buildings with its unconventional design. “Our client really wanted to make this a landmark facility for Shanghai with a design that clearly advertised the facility’s advanced technology and innovative approach to health care delivery,” Stewart says. To that end, the building is designed not as a traditional tower but rather as a lower structure with a larger footprint that rises from the ground as if it were an extension of the natural landscape. That appearance is complemented by a sprawling green roof and a series of vegetated terraces at the clinical levels. “The shape of the building allowed us to develop some roof gardens so that even if you’re on the seventh floor in one of the clinical spaces, you have the ability to walk outside onto a deck area that has a garden space, fostering a very natural healing environment,” Stewart explains. “The design itself was created to look very contemporary, a marker of the cutting-edge technology found inside.”

In addition to providing green space to every level of the building, the green roof and terraces will help control rainwater runoff as part of the facility’s sustainable design. The facility will also feature an energy recovery and production system, waste management technology, extensive glazing to allow in natural light, solar shading, and several other amenities that are intended to make the Shanghai New Hongqiao International Medical Center one of the most energy-efficient health care campuses in the world, Stewart says. “One of the client’s goals was to embrace sustainability and make this campus as energy efficient as possible,” he says. “From the beginning stages of this project, our team carefully analyzed and debated the different strategies we could utilize to reduce the campus’s carbon footprint.”

Ground was broken on the Shared Facility on July 23, and the center is expected to open in early 2015. Stewart says he hopes that once the facility opens it will create an environment that will benefit not only hospital personnel but also patients. “We’re doing this for the patients and their families who will be on this campus,” he says. “We want to make sure that we’re providing them with a healing environment, an environment that meets their needs, and an environment that doesn’t create a lot of obstacles as they get the care they require.”



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