Rainier Beach Clinic
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.