ESa updates space it originally designed 30 years ago

After nearly 30 years, TriStar Centennial Medical Center’s garden court has received a refresh.

Located in the footprint of the medical center, updates include a redesigned information kiosk, modern tables and chairs, the addition of three video screens, new flooring and lighting, and an entire array of new plants, flowers and trees. The architect of the original design, ESa of Nashville, was tasked with the update.

Included in photograph is the original designer, Dick Miller, the senior design manager of the renovation, Sherry Mendel, and principal, Randel Forkum.

Dick Miller, Chairman Emeritus of ESa, designed the original space and recently viewed the updates with project principal, Randel Forkum, and senior design manager Sherry Mendel.

“This is a much needed update,” said Miller. “Thirty years ago it was a specialized design with a specific purpose, and it’s still valid today.”

“The garden court at Centennial has always been a place of respite, healing, and connection to nature for patients, families, and hospital staff for over 25 years,” said Sherry Mendel, senior design manager. “It’s a space that has become sacred to so many people over the years, as it is a way to connect with nature and one’s self without ever leaving the building or your loved ones side.”

Randel Forkum, project principal, pointed out that the footprint of the garden court remains the same, as does the roofline with the distinctive angles, metal work and glass. “Gone are the overhangs of greenery from the information kiosk’s roof and from the second floor balcony,” he said. “In its place is a more streamlined silhouette with accents of cut metal and sleek finishes.”

Miller says that Dr. Frist, Sr., was very involved in the original design of the garden court. “It was about addressing the care for families in addition to the care of the patients.” Dr. Frist, Sr., had the desire to humanize the hospital setting. “He wanted an area that gave a sense of peace and calm away from the stark medical atmosphere.” The Garden Court was born.

TriStar Centennial Hospital atrium court before and after photos

Mendel shared that as a designer, the biggest challenge was changing the existing space enough to bring it into current times while still holding true to the concepts and elements that have been a sense of comfort and familiarity for users through the years. In addition to an updated information area, flooring, and technology, the decades-old palms and over-sized plantings were replaced with greenery more in line with the scale of the space. However, the space continues to be a wayfinding tool with access to all outpatient and public areas, as well as a respite for clients, staff and guests. “It was quite advanced for its time,” Miller noted.

“We value the collaboration of Earl Swenson and Associates (ESa) and our operations and clinical teams with advancing the facilities utilized by our patients and clinical teams. We are proud of our renovated Garden Court which originally opened in 1994. The new upgraded Garden Court provides a peaceful and relaxing environment that is consistent with our mission of ‘Above all else we are committed to the care and improvement of human life,’” said Scott Cihak, President and CEO, TriStar Centennial Medical Center.

Mendel summed up the entire project saying, “Many times in healthcare design I’ve been asked for the healing aspects to follow the spaces function. For this space, the function followed the healing aspects which was an exciting new challenge.”

TriStar Centennial Hospital atrium court before and after photos

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