Challenging accepted norms in health care design, this new greenfield facility responds to the highly emotional reality of what really happens in a hospital. TBRHSC affirms a growing belief in the value of designing for the body, the mind and also the spirit.
The most prominent feature is the means through which the hospital draws on its context and makes tangible references to the natural surroundings. It is the first hospital in Canada to gain approval for the use of wood as a primary structural element.
The dramatic three-storey interior space flooded with natural light serves to acknowledge the spiritual dimension of human life. The welcoming glass concourse intentionally curves to follow the path of the sun and functions as a central circulation and gathering space with a lively café. Conceived as a path through a forest, the timber structure is also rooted in the history and culture of the area.
A “seasonal river” terrazzo floor pattern composed of fish and other natural forms flows through the space. It is also the first cancer center in Canada to incorporate direct light skylights within the radiation treatment rooms to lift the spirits of patients and staff.
There is a powerful attraction to this design that draws patients, staff and visitors who gather to share their thoughts and talk through emotional issues. Moving beyond the standard requirement for circulation, the concourse expresses an expanding new and reimagined role of the hospital as a place that fosters interaction, healing and hope. And at only 1½% of total building area, it provides daily functional, programmed space for 95% of the users.
On the exterior, the landscape takes its cues from fractured, incision-like geometries created from the shear glacial forces. Connected bogs and wetlands divert storm water runoff and cleanse the water before returning it to the adjacent Mackentire River. The system also serves as a fish breeding area for cold-water species.
This is also the first site in Canada to operate the Siemens ONCOR Linear Accelerator and the first cancer program in Canada to have a Dual Function CT Scanner located in the cancer environment. The newly formed Northern Cancer Research Institute expands the spectrum of cancer research and further enhances Regional Cancer Care’s partnerships with Lakehead University and the Northern Ontario Medical School. This ready access to diagnostic tests and staff has allowed the cancer program to move patients through the system with greater speed and efficiency.
When Thunder Bay CEO Ron Saddington knew he had “just one chance to get it right” he recognized the importance of commissioning a facility that would change the course of healthcare in Northwestern Ontario and beyond.
As a result of his tireless commitment, Mr. Saddington now leads a revitalized organization. The facility has attracted international attention and awards as a beacon of future health care design. There is a consistent message that comes from people who get a chance to view the site: Wow!” “My chief-of-staff tells me that it’s a pleasure to come to work in the morning,” reports Mr. Saddington. “This hospital lifts our spirits.”
Project facts and credits:
Project name: Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Construction Budget: $180 million CAD
Architecture: Lead Design Architect: Tye Farrow, Salter Farrow Pilon Architects Inc. (Farrow Partnership Architects Inc., Salter Pilon Architects Inc., successors)
Client: Thunder Bay Regional Hospital; Cancer Care Ontario
Associate Architects: Kuch Stephenson Gibson Malo, Architects and Engineers
Structural: Michelson/Cook Engineering Joint Venture
Mechanical, Electrical, Security, Vertical Engineers: H.H. Angus & Associates Ltd.
Civil: Wardrop Engineering
Landscape Architects: Shollen and Company Inc. with Kuch Stephenson Gibson Malo
Cost Monitoring: Helyar & Associates
Structural Wood Systems: Western Archrib
Builder: Ellis Don/Tom Jones Corporation