Unique Indoor and Outdoor Spaces that Promote a Sense of Well-Being

KIRKLIN CLINIC, Birmingham, Alabama

Kirklin Clinic was undertaken to consolidate numerous outpatient clinics throughout the University of Alabama’s hospital district. Executed on a two and a half block site in an evolving part of downtown, the project was designed to complement UAB’s existing medical center while maintaining the Clinic’s unique identity. Rigorous constraints were imposed on the design of this medical facility, which houses 32 areas of specialization in a dense labyrinth of operating suites, procedure rooms and 257 standardized examination rooms. ...Read More

Within such constraints, this highly ordered building has been individualized and humanized by the creation of unique indoor and outdoor spaces that promote a sense of well-being. The complex aims to provide a healthy environment, both physical and psychological, for all the Clinic’s users: doctors, patients and family members.

The design goal for the new clinic was to achieve architectural unity, circulation clarity, convenient parking, and perhaps most important of all, the creation of a distinct sense of place. Within the courtyard, which is angled symbolically toward the hospital, the main ceremonial entrance leads into a glazed 5-story atrium, itself a vertical expansion of the courtyard outside.

The point of entry is clearly signaled by a canopy fanned out as an eccentric, inverted cone. Stairs have been designed to provide an informal setting for shared dialogue among specialists and the exchange of ideas. The atrium provides a light-filled center with sculptural elements: a ficus tree, an escalator, and a great column. Its geometry responds to the multiple clinics around it, with a second arc carved away to accommodate the long escalator to the main floor. To relieve the admission and waiting process, great public spaces around the atrium have been made on each floor to serve as waiting areas, conceived as comfortable “living rooms” with casual seating and soft lighting.