Hospital or Hotel?

“Can you make it feel like we are in a spa and less a hospital?” was the request of staff in the renovations of the Transitional Care Unit. Pivotal to the elevator arrival and central to the floor plan, the nurses’ station would set the tone for the entire floor. A “peaceful” solution included a transition from a lot of little elements to larger and less elements. For example, walls which had been covered in numerous decorations and notices, were quieted with large pieces of art which harmonized with the new color scheme. The heavy crash rails at the front of the nurses’ desk were replaced with scratch resistant panels embedded with real leaves and calming colors. The existing soffit was highlighted with tangerine coloring and new art glass lights to create a focal point away from the harsher “hospital lighting” and the old telephone booths were converted to a media center and brochure rack to remove the barriers of displays and hand-outs that once lined the desk.


The BEFORE photos show the wear and tear this nurses station received. The completed project provides durable materials that are easy to clean and maintain.

The color scheme and new brown linoleum flooring resulted from matching the wood tones in the patient room floors which were required to remain. To encourage patients to walk as part of their therapy,  a brochure was devised that describes the new wall art. Patients are asked to match a list of artwork titles to the piece it best describes. The entire floor needed to be renovated in 90 days, and the key to the renovation was not changing a lot of the structure including the pre-wired nurses’ desk walls. New quartz counter tops, furniture and finishes made a quick transition easy, reduced waste, minimized dust and eliminated noise and shuffling additional parts through the hospital. 

To further calm the space, every other 2’ x 2’ corridor light was replaced with a pendant fixture wrapped in an art metal design of branches to relate to the trees in the wall art. These fixtures were put on a second circuit to allow staff to reduce the ambient lighting when possible.   When the newly renovated floor was opened three months later, the staff could not believe the transition and how “serene and relaxed” it now felt.


DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS is changing the face of Health Care.