Rainier Beach Clinic

Architect:  Mahlum

Owner:  Northwest Kidney  Centers

Location: Seattle, Washington

Category: Built- Less than $25 million (construction cost)

This project arose from Northwest Kidney Center's desire to upend treatment standards for the nearly 500,000 Americans living with chronic kidney disease. Across America, patients often must spend up to 16 hours each week undergoing life-sustaining dialysis in crowded and institutional outpatient clinics. To revolutionize this area of care, Northwest Kidney Centers selected Seattle's Rainier Beach neighborhood, an area disproportionately affected by kidney disease, to demonstrate a more humanized form of dialysis care.

The new 12,000-square-foot clinic is tucked into the burgeoning and diverse neighborhood, delivering critical care to more than 100 dialysis patients living within a mile. Before the clinic opened, those patients would often commute up to two hours to the closest clinic in downtown Seattle.

“This small project takes a significant step in addressing local needs that are of global concern” - Jury comment

After reviewing patient surveys, clinical observations, and existing medical literature, the design team embraced the hypothesis that direct connections with nature can bolster both patient participation and staff presence. By following this evidence-based approach, the team arrived at a unique clinic layout that offers all patients equitable views of garden courtyards while still maintaining the necessary strict requirements for patient care team ratios and sightlines. Overall, the center's interwoven biophilic design strategies have shaped an immersive and therapeutic environment.

“This small project takes a significant step in addressing local needs that are of global concern,” said the jury. “Its focus on biophilic design has led to an enhanced dialysis experience through a simple yet profound plan solution providing access to natural light and views.”

“Its focus on biophilic design has led to an enhanced dialysis experience through a simple yet profound plan solution providing access to natural light and views.” Jury comment

Inside, all patients are provided refuge with solid walls at their backs as they look out onto native landscapes. Windows in each patient offer [GB1] views of seasonally dynamic plantings and ample daylight that helps anchor circadian rhythms. The opportunity to view the movement of birds and pollinators also serves as a welcome distraction and stress reducer for patients during their treatment. Throughout, the team relied on a palette of natural and warm materials to eschew the institutional feel of typical dialysis clinics.

Much like the standard of care it provides, the clinic has also radically transformed the urban site it occupies. Previously, the site was a storage yard for tires and derelict vehicles. The clinic's new internal and external courtyards have restored the natural habitat while connecting it to some of Seattle's existing greenbelts. All stormwater is managed on-site through two biofiltration swales planted with bulrush and sedge, only visible to patients and staff.

[GB1]There’s a word missing here. Patient room?

Additional information

Owner’s  Representative: Spectrum Development Solutions    

General Contractor / Construction Manager: Aldrich + Associates    

Engineer - Civil: LPD Engineering    

Engineer - Structural: PCS Structural Solutions    

Engineer - Geotech: PANGEO Incorporated    

Engineer - MEP Design Consultant: Coffman Engineers    

Engineer - Mechanical : Emerald Aire    

Engineer - Plumbing : Stirrett Johnsen    

Engineer - Electrical : Northstar Electrical    

Landscape Architect: Brumbaugh and Associates    

Fire Protection Consultant: Fire Sprinklers Inc.    

Envelope Consultant: RDH Building Science    

Acoustical Consultant: A3 Acoustics    

Commissioning Agent: Coffman Engineers  

Energy Modeler: Madison Engineering    

Research Partner: University of Washington’s Integrated Design Lab

Jury

Thomas J. Trenolone AIA, (Chair), HDR, Omaha, Nebraska

David Allison FAIA, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina

Betsy Beaman AIA, GOAT DESIGN, Atlanta, GA

Windom Kimsey, FAIA, TSK Architects, Henderson, Nevada

Noah Tolson, Array Architects, Philadelphia, PA

Norio Tsuchiya AIA, triARC architecture and design, Phoenix, AZ

Kirsten Waltz, AIA, Baystate Health, Glastonbury, Connecticut

Image credits

Rainier Beach Clinic-34

Benjamin Benschneider

Rainier Beach Clinic-35

Mahlum Architects

Rainier Beach Clinic-36

Benjamin Benschneider

Rainier Beach Clinic-37

Benjamin Benschneider

Rainier Beach Clinic-38

Benjamin Benschneider