Northwestern Medicine’s new outpatient care facility at 259 East Erie Street is not your everyday medical office building. Towering 26 stories, the urban high-rise building sits on a compact urban site, positioned to fluidly connect to other sites of care via pedestrian sky bridges and support tunnels. This site has become the southern gateway to the Northwestern campus in downtown Chicago. The facility houses medical clinics, diagnostic services and a surgical suite in addition to street-level retail activity and a hotel-caliber drive-up entrance creating vibrancy at the ground level.
259 East Erie Street provided a unique opportunity to continue the evolution of its campus and the look at this unique part of the Northwestern Medicine brand. The exterior has a refreshed academic Gothic façade created using economical architectural precast matched to the color of the other limestone buildings on campus. The building skin creates a lighter aesthetic and incorporates more glazing than other Northwestern buildings, without deviating from the pattern language they use. The exterior also retains important architectural details that reflect the Northwestern Medicine aesthetic; for example, the articulated building base, vertical expression, and glass and finials on the top of the building.
Impending changes in the future of medicine and the delivery of care require Northwestern Medicine to have flexibility in its facilities. The design team leveraged our proprietary universal grid to assure that the owner could achieve maximum speed-to-market with assurance that the building would still be utilized for highly efficient, operationally-optimized, and patient-centered interior fit-outs for every floor. The universal grid utilizes a structural steel frame which is based on an optimal set of vertical and horizontal dimensions to support many different clinic layouts while maintaining flexibility to support other functions over time.
Within the universal grid, vertical circulation was located on the side of the building to achieve optimal uninterrupted area on a floorplate within a constricting shape. Clinical floors were then sequenced to support fluid patient and staff travel. Northwestern Medicine needed the high-rise building to support a “vertical patient experience”, making it easy and intuitive for patients and the community to access any service they would need in one building, in one visit. Connected parking in the building further enhances the ease of use in this busy Streeterville neighborhood.