Image by Dror Baldinger

When project developers set out to create a world-class community hospital intended to be at the hub of a fledgling community in the fast-growing North Austin neighborhood of Austin, Texas, recruitment of top physicians and staff was the initial goal.

The team at Forest Park Austin Community Hospital challenged the project team to create a five-star hospitality experience to draw in the community. “I want to work here” and “I want to go here for care” were sought-after statements for the leadership team. 

The desire for an elevated, hospitable environment inspired a “modern Hill Country” aesthetic — rich and timeless for Central Texas, and a theme that would help patients and caregivers feel right at home.

A double-story water feature — a source of both audial and haptic biophilic cues — welcomes patients and staff alike. Roof gardens, extensively detailed to be universally accessible, provide both private staff and public patient gardens. A sculpture garden connects the campus, provides an extension of the internal art program, and provides a public community beautification.

Natural light pours in and views are available from every angle, with respite areas for caregivers and families given prime access to the best nature connections. Even operating rooms, preoperative spaces and post-anesthesia care units are outfitted with clerestory windows to filter light and its circadian-enforcing and restorative properties throughout the facility. 

Designed for LEED Gold, careful research ensured low-maintenance and healthy materials while providing an unusually highly textural and nature-inspired experience. Twelve patient rooms are designed with small adjoined family rooms for extended family support. 

Artificial lighting was constructed to be hidden or shielded in every possible instance to ensure light provided a soft glow rather than harsh glare. Medical gases and equipment are shielded, adding to the soothing nature of the overall aesthetic, and aiding in providing a calmly restorative care environment.