December 17, 2010

New women's hospital wins national design award

A local architectural firm has won a national award for its design of the Women and Newborn Hospital, which will replace the Women's Pavilion at Health Sciences Centre.

Smith Carter Architects and Engineers has received the 2010 Design Award of Excellence from Canadian Architect magazine for the new hospital, which is set to be completed in 2014.

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Read about the Women's Hospital Redevelopment Project
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The award has only been won once previously in the past 10 years by a hospital project. Hospitals are difficult buildings to fit into an award category, said Doug Corbett, Principal of Smith Carter Architects and Engineers.

"Function normally trumps form and aesthetics. To be acknowledged by our peers in the design industry energizes us to implement the design ideas into a building the community will be proud of," said Corbett.

The design was selected from 144 submissions across Canada for its sensitivity in integrating the building into the existing HSC campus and surrounding neighbourhood, as well as the incorporation of the natural environment. The new building will be located at the northwest corner of Sherbrook Street and William Avenue.

"This building is important to the community," said Scott Stirton, Smith Carter CEO. "The new Women's Hospital will be a centre of medical excellence for Manitoba women and their families. The design of the hospital balances architecture and medical science to provide more personal care and become a life-giving destination for the community."

Manitoba Health Minister Theresa Oswald and Winnipeg Health Region Presidenty & CEO Arlene Wilgosh visited the Smith Carter office on Dec. 15 to admire the models and design renderings for the hospital project.

The new building will incorporate fresh air throughout and aims for LEED Silver standard. Some of the interesting features include a solarium which may include a living green wall of plants, and fabric cast concrete form canopy at the Sherbrook Street outdoor patio.

Corbett demonstrated how plants will be kept alive by the living wall system, and also how a three-storey mural of an urban elm forest will be incorporated into the glass curtain wall of the Sherbrook Street elevation.

"Our design team worked with the public on many aspects of the building, including how to bring it closer to nature. The glass wall will have an elm forest digitally imposed on the glass. Inside the hospital, drum lights on the ceilings along the corridors will feature digital prints of Manitoba wildflowers in different colours, which will act as guideposts for patients and their visitors," he said.

When it is completed in 2014, the Women and Newborn Hospital will replace the existing Women's Pavilion, which was constructed over 60 years ago. The new five-storey facility will be 362,000 sq. ft., and include an overhead walkway and tunnel system link to the rest of the HSC campus. One side will feature a green roof, and there will be a one-level parkade for public underneath the building.

Along with private rooms for all women which include family support space, another important improvement is the 60-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit which will be located on the second floor. Currently, sick babies are treated in the Children's Hospital, which means they are transported from the Women's Pavilion to Children's by the underground tunnels. Smith Carter worked with Parkin Architects from Toronto, who specialize in neonatal environments.

The main entrance is designed to be a welcoming front door to women and their families as they arrive. The main floor public and retail space runs along Sherbrooke Street, opening to the street and the main floor ambulatory care waiting area runs along Elgin Avenue, adding to a sense of transparency to the building and providing additional safety to pedestrians in the neighbourhood.

The Award of Excellence has recognized significant Canadian buildings on an annual basis since 1968. It is one of two national award programs devoted to architecture, and the awards are given for buildings in the design stage. Another Winnipeg architectural firm, 5468796 Architecture Inc., won an Award of Excellence for its design of Bloc_10 condominiums.

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