University of Cincinnati, Gardner Neuroscience Institute
Category: Built- More than $25 million (construction cost)
On the University of Cincinnati’s campus, the Gardner Neuroscience Institute creates a comfortable environment for sensitive patients and their families. The institute also gathers nearly 125 faculty members from the university’s Centers of Excellence, housing them in a cutting-edge home for care, education, and research on complex neurological conditions. The building serves as a new front door for the medical campus and is a testament to UC Health’s world-class treatment and research.
The 114,000-square-foot Gardner Neuroscience Institute is a patient-centered facility, and every element of the design was carefully developed with considerable input from patients, families, and caregivers. The team also sought the services of a “neuro-architect,” whose knowledge of architecture and clinical neuroscience influenced design elements that improve the patient experience.
“Truly a project that can be appropriately described as a single stroke of genius.” - Jury comment
UC Health approaches its care through a humanistic lens, and the patient group served by the institute deals with unique issues. To accommodate patients prone to nausea, dizziness, or fatigue, or those facing movement disorders, circulation inside the building is quite simple. As patients move along the south facade, they can always orient themselves through views to the outdoors before being escorted to the institute’s central clinical spaces. Returning patients can park in one of 172 spaces offered in the two flat, wheelchair-friendly parking levels before heading to their appointments, greatly simplifying the arrival sequence.
"A simple bar building resolves research-based health concerns of the potential patient, energy, and architectural articulation through one tensile scrim. It epitomizes the notion of purposeful and research/knowledge-driven design to improve care and outcomes.” - Jury comment
The team’s desire to respond to patient needs is evident in the institute’s unique facade. Composed of a specialized polyester fiber mesh, it controls heat and glare while allowing natural light to penetrate. Minimizing glare is crucial for neurological patients as it is visually disorienting. As it wraps the east, west, and south sides of the building, the polyester planes evoke origami, highlighting the building on a campus recognized for its mix of classical and modern architecture.
While the innovative facade emerged from a desire to protect patients and improve performance, it has become a symbol of the health system’s synthesis of technical excellence and humane care.
“Truly a project that can be appropriately described as a single stroke of genius,” noted the jury. “A simple bar building resolves research-based health concerns of the potential patient, energy, and architectural articulation through one tensile scrim. It epitomizes the notion of purposeful and research/knowledge-driven design to improve care and outcomes.”