Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Campus Revitalization

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Lake Forest, Illinois, USA
490,000 square feet / 46,000 square meters

Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital is a Chicago-area community hospital and academic medical center on a bucolic 160-acre campus that dates to 1942. This project replaces the main patient-care building with a state-of-the-art inpatient hospital and a medical office building. The new buildings integrate with the natural and built features of the campus, which include areas of open fields and several medical and administrative buildings.

The campus revitalization project also includes circulation improvements to unify the campus and make it easier to navigate and more accessible to the community. Existing walking and biking paths encourage public use of the grounds for fitness and recreation. To link the north and south campus, new buildings are centrally located between the existing hospital to the south and the athletic center to the north.

To keep building heights low and create the proper scale within a predominately residential neighborhood, the new complex is a series of pavilions arranged in a crescent shape along a lake. The lake has a reflecting pool and a stormwater basin to serve both an aesthetic and functional role. Connecting the buildings at the edge of the reflecting pool is a one-story plinth that contains the main hospital functions and the primary public corridor. Patient rooms are distributed among three pavilions to the south of the entry, and two pavilions to the north contain the medical offices. A boardwalk adjacent to the circulation spine includes spacious decks and outdoors seating areas.

The main entrance to the new complex leads to a glass rotunda that anchors the building and serves as an orienting device. Visitors entering this light-filled space can see past the reception area to the lake. Upon entering, they can easily find their way: hospital functions are to the right and medical offices to the left. A monumental stair leads to the cafeteria on the lower level.

The pavilions have a simple, low-rise form. Deeply overhanging roofs emphasize the horizontal landscape and allude to the region’s Prairie style. The buildings are clad in brick, a material used elsewhere on the hospital campus and throughout Lake Forest. Large expanses of glass in the public areas take advantage of water views and bring in daylight. In the main public spaces, wood ceilings and walls and terrazzo floors create a welcoming environment.