Ferraro Choi Creates New Clinic for Growing Community
“Our patients love the atrium effect, with the skylights and an open, user-friendly layout. Staff members appreciate the efficiency it allows them. Ferraro Choi’s design for our Mililani Clinic has provided us with a professional and healing atmosphere.” – Paula Wicklund, Clinic Manager, Mililani, Kaiser Permanente
A suburb of Honolulu, Mililani is an award-winning Master Planned Community with well-defined design guidelines. In early 1992, Kaiser Permanente chose Ferraro Choi and Associates to create a new, stand-alone clinic in the Mililani Town Center to provide a wide range of medical services to this growing community.
Program requirements for this 15,000 square-foot medical facility included administrative offices, doctor offices, exam rooms, procedure rooms, nurses’ stations, prep stations, admitting area, waiting area, laboratory, x-ray, blood draw, pharmacy, optometry, employee lounge, and conference and training facilities. The facility needed to offer space for community activities such as lectures, meetings and classes. Mililani Town Center also required that the exterior facade of the building conform and fit in with the established architectural mansard roof forms of the surrounding shopping center.
Ferraro Choi’s first step was to visit other existing medical facilities throughout the islands to observe firsthand what design elements were successful, as well as to note what elements failed. Ferraro Choi noted that many existing medical clinics had confusing layouts, which made navigation difficult for both patients and visitors. Also noted was that many public areas were somber, low artificially-lit rooms, which tended to promote a depressing atmosphere. During this research phase, the design team began soliciting feedback directly from end-users rather than relying solely on recommendations from the medical facilities manager. Nurses, doctors, receptionists, and laboratory technicians alike were included in discussions and given the opportunity to provide constant input throughout the design process.
Based on its findings, Ferraro Choi’s concept for the new medical clinic was centered on light. “A medical clinic is a place of healing,” says Gerald Choi, Founding Partner. “We therefore chose to emphasize the positive, psychologically uplifting force of natural ambient light for the new Kaiser Mililani Clinic.” As a primary design element, a cohesive network of skylights was used throughout the facility to create an atrium effect, flooding the clinic with natural light. The skylights also were used as directional tools to echo the natural layout of the building intuitively pointing the way to different areas and departments within the facility.
Color was also used as an important design element throughout the medical facility. A far cry from traditional institutional hues, warm, “humanizing” colors were used in the interiors to create an uplifting and pleasant atmosphere. Each department or wing was assigned its own color coding to help patients find their way. The exterior colors were chosen to blend with the shopping center and surrounding community. A reddish band was strategically placed at the base of the medical clinic’s exterior, to unite architectural elements while camouflaging the staining effects of Mililani’s notorious “red dirt.”
Finally, because the medical profession is advancing faster than most industries, design strategies were implemented to address flexibility and future expansion. During the design phase, a master plan was conceived to allow for an area of growth beyond the clinic’s initial intended size. To allow for easy expansion, the floor plan was organized around a simple central “spine” layout with doctors’ offices and examination rooms purposely designed similar in size to allow interchangeability. Cabling and data transmission lines were also installed with capacities to allow for future growth.