Branching Out With Acoustics in Healthcare

Branching Out With Acoustics in Healthcare

Designer: HKS Architects

Location: Piedmont Atlanta Hospital Marcus Tower

Product & End Use: Xorel Artform | Acoustical panels

Market: Healthcare

 By the time we realized Xorel Artform was the right choice, we were on a major time crunch. But Design Ally was quick and easy to work with, and with their expert help, we were able to complete the project in a mere couple weeks.” — Ginny Nicolson, HKS

Established in the early 1900s, Piedmont Atlanta Hospital has grown significantly since its humble beginnings operating out of an Atlanta home. The sprawling campus we are familiar with today was constructed in the 1940s and continues its evolution to this day. Seeking to accommodate the needs of its ever-growing community, the hospital partnered with HKS Architects on a 10-year expansion that began with the construction of the Marcus Heart and Vascular Center (or Marcus Tower), an addition that houses up to 408 beds and 13 new operating rooms.

HKS had a clear vision for incorporating the neighborhood’s rich history within the interior design of the space, while creating a functional and efficient environment for its inhabitants. Alluding to Atlanta’s nickname, The City of Trees, the design team devised an interior that was inspired by the canopy of a tree at each level. HKS utilized locally-sourced wood throughout, as well as artwork and motifs that feature leaves and vegetation found on different levels of a tree in order to pay homage to the city’s natural surroundings as well as bring organic elements into the healthcare space.

The design team selected the material for its bleach cleanable properties suitable for hospital-grade cleaners, as well as its sustainable features. “We considered using felt for its acoustic properties, but it traps dust and can’t be cleaned,” says Ginny Nicholson, Interior Designer at HKS Architects. “Xorel Artform is much better for healthcare.”

Continuing education has always been a top priority for the institution. The Shaheen Auditorium in the new tower was designed to serve as a gathering and learning space, hosting training sessions, conferences, as well as community meetings and events. To continue the interior’s biophilic theme, a large curtain wall system allows plenty of daylight to permeate the auditorium. Similarly, the team wanted to accentuate the powerful narrative of the City of Trees through a more abstract design that would cover the large expanse of neutral wall and provide acoustical buffering.

Initially, HKS wanted to create a large-scale custom installation that was more literal in its homage to the local trees. However, this design stretched the budget too far, leaving them in a pinch and requiring further research into more cost effective alternatives. No stranger to Carnegie’s Xorel, which HKS has utilized in past healthcare projects, the design team selected the material for its bleach cleanable properties suitable for hospital-grade cleaners, as well as its sustainable features. “We considered using felt for its acoustic properties, but it traps dust and can’t be cleaned,” says Ginny Nicholson, Interior Designer at HKS Architects. “Xorel Artform is much better for healthcare.”

Nicholson worked closely with Carnegie’s in-house Design Ally team, selecting a diamond Artform shape for its resemblance to leaves, as well as its finished and modern look. Offering a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and Xorel textile options, Artform captured the original design language at a much more accessible price point. A variety of natural colorways ranging from ochre, burnt orange, to sage green capture the design intent, representing an abstracted tree and its leaves. Understanding the HKS team’s vision, the Design Ally team created and presented an installation composition that emulated a tree canopy, with more density toward the top of the ceiling and plenty of negative space as you move down the wall.

"Design Ally was quick and easy to work with, and with their expert help, were able to complete the project in a mere couple weeks.”

Ultimately, despite having a tight timeframe to work with, HKS and the Design Ally team were able to create a stunning wall accent that is as functional as it is beautiful. “By the time we realized Xorel Artform was the right choice, we were on a major time crunch,” says Nicholson of the experience. “But Design Ally was quick and easy to work with, and with their expert help, were able to complete the project in a mere couple weeks.”