Airy reception areas and sculptural reception desks help to create an atmosphere of hospitality.

Image by Andrew Rugge-Perkins Eastman©

With New York City being an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, it makes sense that it would be an innovator in care facilities dedicated to treating recovering patients. 

NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health and the NYC Department of Design and Construction have worked to open three new community health clinics called COVID-19 Centers of Excellence. The first — a 21,000-square-foot facility with 35 exam rooms — opened in November 2020 in the Bronx’s Tremont neighborhood. The second is a 28,500-square-foot facility with 22 exam rooms located in the Jackson Heights neighborhood in Queens, and the third — 52,000 square feet and 51 exam rooms — is set to open this spring in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. 

The three facilities were designed to meet the unique needs of patients recovering, both in the short and long term, from COVID-19. The clinics include specialized services like pulmonary and cardiology care, radiology and diagnostic services, and mental health services. 

Global architecture firm Perkins Eastman is the architect and designer for all three centers, and Gilbane Building Company, which operates from various U.S. cities, served as construction manager. 

Given the pressing nature of this type of care, all three facilities were put on a fast track for expedited turnaround. The designers say that although there weren’t any facilities of this exact kind to imitate, Perkins Eastman pulled from standard guiding principles for outpatient facilities, such as accessibility, efficiency, cleanability and durability. It also adhered to best practices to help ensure patient comfort, convenience and wellness. 

Floor plans vary between the three facilities but provide consistency with modern, airy reception areas; clean, bright lighting; defined zones to separate circulation from waiting areas; and intuitive wayfinding. The sculptural reception desks mimic the world of hospitality and further separate the clinics from feeling too institutional. 

“Our approach to this important project was to design for the diverse communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic — to create approachable, supportive, efficient and dignified settings for patients and their families with longer durations of COVID-19 treatment and often with myriad health issues,” says Jeff Brand, AIA, health care practice leader at Perkins Eastman and the principal in charge of the project.