Raised planting beds, sidewalk seating and larger sidewalks create beauty and gathering opportunities for the community.

Image courtesy of FCA

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, N.J., is in the final stages of a multiphase renovation. Working with Philadelphia and New York-based architecture, planning and design firm FCA, the hospital’s 11-acre campus has been reimagined and redesigned to drive interaction with the surrounding community.

“Institutions of all kinds, including hospitals, are generators of activity on a near round-the-clock basis,” says Eric Galipo, AICP, LEED AP BD+C, director of academic planning and urban design for FCA. “When the neighborhoods surrounding them are pedestrian-friendly environments, like the area around Newark Beth Israel, new design elements such as seating and shading provide spaces that encourage visitors to linger, relax and spend more time there.”

FCA’s upgrades to pedestrian thoroughfares and streetscapes immediately adjacent to the hospital concentrated on improving aesthetics and creating small gathering spaces, or “pocket gardens.”

The addition of four seating areas includes benches for small gatherings, with plantings and shade trees that provide privacy to encourage interaction and create cool spots during warm weather. The expanded sidewalk area facilitates convenient pickup and drop-off and is dotted with planted “islands.”

The reconfiguration of the spaces involved reducing vehicular travel lanes and expanding the sidewalks adjacent to the hospital buildings. The larger pathways also make room for raised planting beds that further soften and enhance the environment.