Main Line Health (MLH), a not-for-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs, was looking to expand beyond its traditional patient base, says JoAnn Magnatta, senior vice president of planning and design at MLH (Philadelphia). The opportunity to do so took shape when MLH evaluated its women’s offerings, which included comprehensive services but not much convenience. “We looked at our women’s service lines scattered throughout the system and realized it would be a positive move for us and for our patients to have those services aggregated in one location,” she says.
Through a joint venture with physician group Axia Women’s Health, MLH wanted to provide a holistic solution, serving women’s physical, mental, and emotional health and emphasizing wellness and prevention, with a variety of specialty services including breast health, digestive health, heart and vascular care, integrative medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pelvic floor care, rheumatology and autoimmune treatment, skin care, weight management, and emotional wellness. Additional services for women would include primary care, cardiology, endocrinology, neurology, general surgery, orthopedics, imaging, physical therapy, and lab services. “It was our ideal to create a location where women can take care of all of their healthcare needs in one place. We wanted a building that was welcoming, easy to access, and appealing,” Magnatta says
Eyeing Pennsylvania’s King of Prussia area due to its demographics and booming economic development, MLH found a home for the new $64 million building at the Village at Valley Forge, a mixed-use development. “There has been an explosion [in that area] of different types of businesses—healthcare, retail, fitness, large corporations—all with many female employees,” Magnatta says. “The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and other healthcare users were looking at the area, which was also a draw. And the Village at Valley Forge had appeal as a unique and upcoming way of developing within a defined space in a specific area. It was the ideal location, in our minds.”
Construction began in June 2018 and the Main Line Health Women’s Specialty Center at King of Prussia opened in March 2020.
The partners turned to Nelson Worldwide (Philadelphia) to design the building, which called for 100,000 square feet of clinical space as well as more than 300 parking spaces on a steeply sloping, rocky site that measured less than two acres. MLH wanted a building that was prominent but not looming to avoid high-rise building codes, says Brad Earl, managing principal at Nelson. The solution was a two-volume structure that features a three-level entry pavilion and a six-story tower with three levels of parking sandwiched between the first-floor lobby and the clinical space on the fifth and sixth floors.
The building is organized with MLH registration, patient intake, laboratory, and imaging areas on the first floor and most of its clinical space on the fifth floor. Axia Women’s Health and community spaces such as meeting rooms and a demonstration kitchen are housed on the sixth floor, while other tenants, including a rehabilitation clinic and a specialty fertility practice, occupy the remaining floors. The sixth floor also has 9,000 square feet of shell space for future build-out.
To support a holistic approach to health, MLH’s fifth-floor clinical space is organized into nine “neighborhoods,” with each focused on a different specialty, such as breast health, heart and vascular care, and facial plastics/ENT, but also able to flex based on need and demand for the various specialties. “The neighborhoods are interconnected by a support staff corridor that spans the length of the floor, which allows the cross-trained medical assistants and nurse practitioners to adapt to capacity and move easily between specialties, going where they are needed,” says Andrew Simmons, project manager at Nelson. “The idea is cross-pollination between staff and physicians who are working together to achieve total health and wellness of body and mind for patients.”
Because the building is located on a slight promontory point, about 3,000 feet from the Pennsylvania Turnpike and a major interstate highway, the project team wanted to ensure maximum visibility and make the structure stand out among the taller buildings nearby. The design solution was to add large vertical “fins” in MLH’s brand colors of green and blue that project out from the building and are lit at night. The green is carried over to the decorative screens on the tower, which hide the three parking decks while letting in lots of natural light, making the garage feel as safe and non-threatening as possible, says Earl.
Inside, communal spaces, comfortable seating groups, and a soaring triple-height atrium lobby convey an interior feel more akin to a boutique hotel than a medical office building. This is intentional, says Earl, as MLH and Nelson pursued a specific goal of creating a place that decreases anxiety while emphasizing wellness and community. For example, the lobby and waiting areas on the clinical floors include groups of varied types of individual and communal seating in open, lounge-like spaces with coffee tables and side tables. “Each space offers patients a multitude of options to work, read, or chat while they wait for their appointments,” says Katie Martinez, interior designer at Nelson.
Supersized floral graphics are a key interior design element of the building to bring the outside in. “The client wanted a timeless, neutral palette for the permanent finishes, with vibrant colors brought in through art and graphics,” says Martinez.
For example, a 17-by 34-foot mural hanging over the reception desk serves as a focal point in the atrium lobby. The visually arresting image, a floral oil painting in vibrant tones of pink, red, and purple, was commissioned for the space and reproduced onto three vinyl canvas panels for installation. Digital photo murals of extreme closeups of flowers also bookend the elevator lobbies and lend their colors (orange, blue, green, etc.) to the garage levels as a wayfinding tactic. Similar supersized images, printed on a rigid vinyl material for durability, cover accent walls and hallways on the fifth and sixth floors, lending color and vibrancy throughout the clinical spaces. Their striking hues are complemented by more than 200 pieces of original art in a wide variety of styles throughout the building, sourced through MLH’s ArtAbility program, which encourages people with disabilities to find fulfillment and inspiration through art.
To further support MLH’s emphasis on wellness, Magnatta says the building program includes elements designed to bring in visitors for reasons other than medical appointments, including a café near the front of the entry pavilion and The Wellness Porch boutique on the fifth floor, which carries healthcare and wellness products especially curated for women. MLH space on the sixth floor includes community meeting rooms and a demonstration kitchen to host future educational programs, while produce for the kitchen will be grown in a roof garden planned for the top of the entry pavilion.
“We know that we need to be able to diagnose and treat patients, but we have shifted the focus over the years to wellness and prevention, which drove our thinking here,” Magnatta says. “We want to help people, especially women, to exercise, eat right, take care of their minds and bodies, and strengthen themselves along the way. This is a theme throughout many of our facilities and is manifested in the program for this new building.”
Project name: Main Line Health Women’s Specialty Center King of Prussia
Project completion date: March 2020
Owner: Main Line Health
Total building area: 100,000 sq. ft.
Total construction cost: DND
Cost/sq. ft.: DND
Architecture: Nelson Worldwide
Interior design: Nelson Worldwide
General contractor: IMC
Engineering: Pisarek Engineering, PC
Art consultant: Carol Rubenstein Associates
Art/pictures: Carol Rubenstein Associates
AV equipment/electronics/software: New Era Technology
Carpet/flooring: Forbo, Stone Tile International, Tandus, Ecore Athletic, Armstrong Commercial Flooring
Ceiling/wall systems: Armstrong Commercial Ceilings
Doors/locks/hardware: Tru-Fit/Unified Door & Hardware Group, LLC
Furniture—seating/casegoods: Kershner Office Furniture
Handrails/wall guards: Construction Specialties, Acrovyn
Lighting: Lighting Solutions, Axis Lighting
Signage/wayfinding: RMH Image Group
Surfaces—solid/other: DuPont, Wilsonart
Paint: Sherwin Williams
Project details are provided by the design team and not vetted by Healthcare Design.
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