St. Anthony Hospital
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA

ZGF Architects, LLP
Seattle, Washington, USA

Glazing Contractor:
Stephens Enterprises Inc., of Tacoma
Fife, Washington, USA

Kawneer Products:
2250 IG (Inside Glazed) Curtain Wall
1600 Wall System®2
PG 123® IsoWeb® Framing
360 Insulclad® Doors
350 Medium Stile Entrances

Tucked away on a remote wooded peninsula in the picturesque Pacific Northwest is the town of Gig Harbor, Washington. With a population of 120,000, and growing, the people of Gig Harbor needed a large-scale health center that would not only address their healthcare needs, but also do so in a calming and peaceful healing environment. The main concern for the Franciscan Health System, the offshoot of Catholic Health Initiatives that commissioned the project, was that the building reflected the history of the community as well as the natural surroundings of the area.

In describing the design intent, Allyn Stellmacher, Design Partner at Seattle-based architecture firm, ZGF Architects noted: “The natural beauty of the wooded forests surrounding the hospital, and the connection between nature and a patient’s journey from sickness back to health, became key themes in development of the design. Borrowing inspiration from Robert Frost’s classic poem ‘The Road Not Taken,’ the team identified the characteristics and experiences that define ‘a walk in the woods’. Concepts such as exploration, silent reflection, moments of pause and visual connectivity between interior and exterior landscapes emerged as strong design fundamentals. These desired experiences were then translated into a set of design strategies that were applied to interior-exterior relationships.”

What emerged was a high-end, 80-bed medical facility that unites the maritime history of the region with the natural environment through subtle nautical interpretations, enhancing the overall patient experience.

St. Anthony’s includes a 24-hour emergency room, inpatient and outpatient surgical center, intensive care unit and diagnostic services. Adjacent to the main hospital is the Milgard Medical Pavilion, which houses physical, occupational and speech therapies as well as the Jane Thompson Russell Cancer Care Center.

Because the incorporation of, and exposure to, nature was a key element in the project’s design, the use of natural light throughout the hospital was a key element. To increase exposure to daylight throughout the facility, the design featured several glazed products and systems. Both Kawneer and glazing contractor Stephens Enterprises, based in Fife, Washington, were brought into the project to help ZGF and the general contractor, Sellen Construction Company, identify products that met design needs.

“The design itself made this a labor-intensive project,” said Duff Moriarty, Vice President of Stephens Enterprises. “We needed products that weren’t going to add to our installation time and having worked with Kawneer for a long time, we trusted their products and employees to help us get the job done right.”

The L-shaped building revolves around the landscape and a central healing garden, with additional view gardens tucked around the building perimeter providing glimpses of nature from every possible angle. A two-story public lobby and window wall provides direct views of the healing garden with seating extending onto a patio for patients, visitors and staff to enjoy and interact with the outdoors. Both Kawneer’s 2250 IG (Inside Glazed) Curtain Wall and 1600 Wall System®2 Curtain Wall were used throughout St. Anthony’s allowing daylight to reach areas of the hospital that would traditionally be interior or windowless. The most unusual place for this natural lighting is the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) recovery bays. Because the overall goal of the design was to improve patient experience and reduce recovery time and hospital stay length, this consideration was a significant improvement to traditional Phase 1 recovery area layouts. Using an evidence-based design strategy to affect materials and layout, St. Anthony’s claims an average stay of 2.6 days for its patients – far below the national average of 4.6 days.†

One of the biggest challenges for the team was integrating the building structures and parking facilities into the dense vegetation of the complex site as well as with the building materials themselves. The exterior materials chosen were able to flawlessly blend the Kawneer curtain wall systems with the landscape through use of contrasting textures of natural stone, wood, concrete and structural steel columns.

“With the Kawneer curtain wall we had the flexibility to incorporate aluminum in with other building products to achieve a timeless, natural aesthetic,” said Stellmacher of ZGF Architects. “Due to the high safety requirements of the facility, the strength testing and proven performance of Kawneer’s products made us feel secure about the integrity of the structure while maintaining the highest quality of design.”

Inside, the hospital more closely resembles a high-end hotel than a typical hospital – from the layout to the landscaping to the local art and artifacts. The interior spaces and hallways are all circumscribed by views of the central healing garden, which provides a sense of natural orientation and guides wayfinding within the building. Throughout the facility, the waiting rooms and emergency department feature full-height glazed panels to provide unobstructed views of the surroundings.

For increased thermal performance, the hospital also featured Kawneer’s PG 123® IsoWeb® Framing, a ribbon window and multilite punched opening system with preglaze capability, helping reduce labor and unit construction. Kawneer’s 350 Medium Stile Entrances and 360 Insulclad® Thermal Entrances were also used on the facility to provide the extra strength needed for a high-volume location as well as the thermal capacity for the wide temperature swings of the Pacific Northwest climate.

“It’s always a pleasure to be a part of the design team and see things come together over the years-long process,” said Skip Dill, Architectural Sales Representative for Kawneer. “In this case, the hospital is up on a hill, and the design looks and feels as though it sprang up naturally from the earth over the course of construction.”

“Within our broad range of experience, we excel at creating high-end buildings,” said Moriarty. “And, working with Kawneer and ZGF is always a thrill. It’s nice to be a part of such an elegant building that serves a major function in the community.”

The hospital was designed according to U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®*) and Green Guide for Healthcare guidelines and successfully incorporates several sustainable features that achieve a high-performance healing environment. Since opening, St. Anthony Hospital has garnered many awards for its interior and exterior design including the Healthcare Environments Award for acute care facility, which recognizes life-enhancing interior design that contributes to the quality of healthcare.

“When we’re designing hospitals,” said Stellmacher, “we’re in the business of improving the quality of lives. It is our hope that the St. Anthony Hospital will serve as an example of a true partnership between the environment, people and place that together create a unique healing environment for the care of the body, mind and spirit.”

“Hospital Average Length of Stay, Charges and Cost by Region,” Becker’s Hospital Review, 2009
* LEED is a registered trademark of the U.S. Green Building Council