Continuing their mission of delivering unprecedented child healthcare, Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s bold, new Pine Bluff Clinic will provide primary care services and mobile dental unit services to the underserved community of Jefferson County.
Located south of Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Pine Bluff Clinic is a bright new addition to this predominantly residential neighborhood. ACH has had a mission for several years to expand beyond their central location, bringing healthcare facilities closer to the homes of Arkansas communities in the state’s northwest and northeast regions. Realizing the need for more direct care in the southeast, ACH’s Pine Bluff Clinic is the latest realization of that mission.
Early in the process, two main design objectives were established. First, is the idea that healthcare extends beyond the physician-to-patient interaction and that connections to nature and daylight are essential to the patient experience and promotes better overall health. The second objective, which links to their mission of bringing care closer to home, was to create a shining symbol, or beacon of hope, as an expression of care for the community. Implementing creative ways to encounter these elements, which ACH refers to as ‘discovery and delight’, has become common throughout their facilities.
On approach, the north façade presents as a strong gesture, divided horizontally between a field of shifting white pearlescent metal panels atop floor-to-ceiling glass, allowing clear visibility of the interior waiting gallery. The entry sits below a canopy that extends past the mobile dental unit to the eastern plaza, which will also be used for after-hours community events. Upon entering the building, visitors pass below a rich, marigold soffit that extends from exterior to interior, and creates an inviting welcome experience. What follows is a moment of discovery as the high, south facing clerestory glazing delightfully reveals itself, pouring daylight into the space, minimizing the need for artificial lighting. The vaulted ceiling recalls a familiar form of an inverted gable of a house; the notion that all who enter are home. The north facing exterior glass walls are canted at angles, creating smaller, inhabitable spaces to immerse visitors within the front garden.
The single story 11,000 square foot facility is modest in plan, maximizing an efficient layout of clinical and staff spaces with exams and patient circulation along the outer east and west sides with staff circulation and collaborative spaces occurring in the middle and back of the building. To maintain privacy, diffused daylight is brought into exam rooms and offices through high windows filled with bright yellow shadowboxes, crafted of perforated metal, framing views of existing trees. Maintaining continuity of the minimal palette, the east and west facades are donned in white metal panels of varying bent profiles, reminiscent of predominant delta agrarian structures, oriented vertically to soften the appearance and create subtle shadow patterns.
As day turns to evening, the upper north façade is filled with a brilliant glow of colored light from concealed fixtures. The pearlescent flecks within each panel enhance the color that fills the larger frame. Like a night light shining in the city, the glow remains bright until morning as a beacon of hope reminding the community that care is close to home.