A five-story, 160,000-square-foot patient tower recently opened on the University of Florida (UF) Health North campus, marking completion of the second phase of improvements on the health system’s Jacksonville campus.

Gresham, Smith and Partners provided architecture, interior design, planning and wayfinding services for the 92-bed hospital, which connects the new inpatient tower to an existing ambulatory care center and medical office complex.

“Through this project we were challenged to help elevate the UF Health brand to attract both patients and high-quality staff to the new facility,” says Rick Bouchereau, AIA, LEED AP, senior architect, Gresham, Smith and Partners.

“The design is intended to make a statement about the high level of care patients can expect in the facility, and the hospitalitylike setting supports efforts to enhance the overall patient experience,” Bouchereau says.

The design team partnered with UF Health throughout the process to understand their goals and effectively apply value-added design principles to meet the facility’s needs, he says. 

The facility is LEED Silver-registered and includes a 12-bed labor and delivery unit, an eight-bed women’s services unit, a 24-bed intensive care unit and two floors that accommodate 24-bed medical and surgical suites each. In addition to all-private patient rooms, the tower also includes shared amenity spaces such as conference rooms, dining room, a chapel and courtyard spaces.

“Our team developed a clear aesthetic concept for the medical center, with geometric forms that interpreted the site’s protected wetlands and the nearby Intracoastal Waterway,” says Penny Houchens, IIDA, LEED AP,  senior interior designer, Gresham, Smith and Partners.

“Furniture, materials selection and art installations keep with the contemporary architectural feel of the building. Patients and staff are offered access to an abundance of natural light, views to the green roof from patient rooms and waiting areas, and hundreds of photographs depicting the local landscape and wildlife are used to create positive distraction and serve as a wayfinding tool in the facility,” she says.

Advanced technology also was incorporated into the facility to enhance the overall patient experience. Every patient room is equipped with a multifaceted entertainment and education system that allows each patient to control his or her room lighting, temperature and solar shade system.

Patients can watch on-demand entertainment, order meals and surf the internet from their beds simply with a bedside tablet. Staff will be able to use the system to notify bed tracking when a room is available, give discharge instructions and provide telemedicine opportunities for the physicians and patients. 

“The design team considered every aspect of the patient stay and created a facility that provides the resources and technology essential to meeting our patients’ needs,” says Wayne Marshall, vice president, UF Health. He calls the new hospital a major step in UF Health’s goal of becoming one of the nation’s top-tier academic health centers.

Gresham, Smith and Partners also designed Phase 1 of UF Health North’s campus improvements, which started with the six-story, 200,000-quare-foot ambulatory care and medical office complex now connected to the new patient tower.

Opened in 2015, that facility encompasses two hospital floors that house emergency, imaging, surgery and support services as well as four floors of physician office space located above the hospital floors. Phase 3 of the project will include structure parking and the eventual buildout of 300 beds.