Rainier Beach Clinic

Architect: Mahlum

Owner: Northwest Kidney Centers

Location: Seattle, Washington

Project site: Brownfield

Building program type(s): Health Care –Clinic

Some 500,000 Americans are living with chronic kidney disease and spend 16 hours each week undergoing dialysis in life-sustaining outpatient clinics that can feel chaotic, crowded, and institutional. This dehumanizing experience has been likened to flying from Seattle to Chicago three times weekly in the middle seat of coach. Seeking to revolutionize dialysis care with a patient-centric alternative, the team hypothesized that direct views to nature from patient care areas would increase participation with treatment regimens and improve health outcomes, resulting in decreased morbidity and mortality rates.

To create patient care areas that position patients with direct views to nature, rigorous plan studies and full-scale mock-ups were conducted to reinvent the clinic environment while maintaining sightlines and workflows essential to clinical safety. The courtyards that punctuate the clinic feature biophilic design strategies, such as biodiverse, seasonal plantings that lower stress and bird habitats within pollinator-friendly plantings that encourage distraction therapy for pain management. The design of spaces across the project also leverages research in biophilic design and environmental psychology, balancing refuge for patients with dynamic views to the layered courtyards and prospect to the community beyond. Warm, welcoming materials are illuminated with natural daylight and dappled light patterns from custom-perforated screens.

These biophilic design strategies woven throughout the clinic create an immersive and restorative environment that encourages patients to comply with their treatment and be at ease when dialyzing. Keeping nature at the core of the design also resulted in a reduced environmental footprint, realizing significant reductions in water usage, operational carbon, and embodied carbon while actively working to restore local ecosystems. The Rainier Beach Clinic has been open for over a year and is beloved by staff and patients for bringing this restorative and innovative care directly to the community it serves.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of design completion: 2018

Year of substantial project completion: 2019

Gross conditioned floor area: 12073

Number of stories: 1

Project climate zone: ASHRAE 4C

Annual hours of operation: 5720

Site area: 29961

Project site context/setting: Urban

Cost of construction, excluding furnishing: $7,190,983

Number of residents, occupants, visitors: 26,600

Project team

Commissioning Agent: Coffman Engineers

Consultant - Acoustical : A3 Acoustics  

Energy Modeler: Madison

Engineer - Civil: LPD Engineering  

Engineer - Electrical : Northstar Electrical  

Engineer - Geotech: PANGEO Incorporated  

Engineer - MEP Design Consultant: Coffman

Engineer - Mechanical : Emerald Aire  

Engineer - Plumbing : Stirrett Johnsen  

Engineer - Structural: PCS Structural Solutions  

Engineering Research Partner: University of Washington’s Integrated Design Lab

Envelope Consultant: RDH Building Science

Fire Protection Consultant: Fire Sprinklers Inc.  

General Contractor / Construction Manager: Aldrich + Associates  

Landscape Architect: Brumbaugh and Associates  

Owner’s Representative: Spectrum Development Solutions  


Erica Cochran Hameen, Assoc. AIA, Carnegie Mellon University

Lynn Simon, FAIA, Google

Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Marlon Blackwell Architects

Michelle Amt, AIA, VMDO Architects

Renee Cheng, FAIA, University of Washington

Image credits

Wood floors with seating area in front of large glass windows with garden space outside.

Benjamin Benschneider

Mahlum Architects

Mahlum Architects

Benjamin Benschneider

Benjamin Benschneider

Benjamin Benschneider

Benjamin Benschneider

Benjamin Benschneider

Benjamin Benschneider