ambulatory health care center at maxwell air force base
The International Design Award from the U.S. Air Force
Design Excellence Award from the Alabama Chapter of AIA
National Register of Historic Places
The 200,000 square foot Ambulatory Health Care Center is a state-of-the-art health care facility emphasizing patient service and comfort within an energy-efficient work environment. The Maxwell Air Force Base campus, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. (1930), includes a National Register Historic District, as well as several individually- listed buildings. The design of a large new health care facility was first and foremost a planning effort. The design and placement of the facility directly responds to the historic plan and the significant adjacent structures. Set into a landscape of residentially-scaled structures, the size of the proposed hospital posed a contextual concern. By articulating the elements of the required program as discrete architectural forms and projecting them from the main public space, the height and mass of the complex were reduced, and the building avoided overshadowing the smaller adjacent structures, preserving the overall scale. In addition, while a clearly modern structure, the health care center’s red terra cotta roof and streamlined stucco finish match the dominant materials of the surrounding structures, establishing continuity with the existing landscape.
A circulation route runs along the periphery of the site connecting the facility to multiple thoroughfares, thereby reducing automobile congestion. On the interior, the facility is anchored by a great atrium, and patient services radiate out from this core. At night, light from an abundance of windows surrounding the visitors’ entrance welcome those coming into the building. Administrative offices are located on the third floor, with service areas at the edge of the building.
Energy efficient concepts are incorporated throughout the design. A saw-tooth roof monitor runs length of the main atrium, admitting only indirect light, while a continuous shaded clearstory controls solar gain throughout the day, decreasing the lighting load while not adding substantively to the heating and cooling load. The exterior fenestration incorporates a light shelf that bounces light onto the ceiling providing natural daylight deep into the doctors’ offices.