Healthcare providers that want to expand their regional reach often turn to adaptive reuse as a cost effective and speedy means of opening new facilities. Also called repurposing, adaptive reuse involves renovating a facility to transform it from one use to another. For instance, a provider might convert a vacant retail store into an ambulatory care center.
One of the biggest architectural challenges in these scenarios is capturing the provider’s brand, while recognizing a facility’s history within the community. We can do this by paying tribute to, rather than completely erasing, some of the most engaging components that identify the facility as part of the community’s legacy.
For instance, visitors to the Erie HealthReach Waukegan Health Center in Waukegan, Illinois are often pleasantly surprised when they encounter hints of the facility’s former role as a bank.
Community is a vital part of the Erie brand. The design of its Waukegan facility reflects this focus in everything from the Erie logo etched in vestibule glass to the photos of actual Erie patients and employees dispersed throughout the facility.
Still, the organization wanted to take this community commitment to the next level by honoring the repurposed facility as a notable part of the community’s past. The design responds:
- Refurbished vault doors with still-spinning locks appear in corridors and break areas.
- Old safe deposit boxes provide a unique backdrop within staff break rooms.
- Ornamental panels from the backs of vault doors were reused as decorative elements within the corridor.
- Just for kicks, an FDIC sticker remains on what was once the bank’s drive-through window.
No matter what the old facility’s prior use, architects and health care providers should consider ways of retaining some of its most charming characteristics. In the case of the Erie Waukegan facility, it turned out to be a valuable investment.