Announcing the merger of three premier healthcare design firms.

Ascension Group Architects
MorrisSwitzer~Environments for Health
daSILVA Architects


E4H Leads EMMC Design Modernization
E4H Leads EMMC Design Modernization

E4H - MorrisSwitzer Environments for Health, announced details about its ongoing architectural projects which are facilitating the modernization of Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC), the flagship medical center for Eastern Maine Health System.

The EMMC modernization project is focused on creating opportunities for the Bangor-based hospital to adapt to emerging technology and modern procedures while accommodating increased demand on a limited footprint. In early June EMMC opened its new main entrance (the Penobscot Pavilion,) a NICU, and cardiac care unit.

“Eastern Maine residents and hospital staff will see some major enhancements to the facility including a 361,000-square foot patient tower,” said Dan Morris, Partner, E4H. “This project incorporates the latest advances in evidence-based design. Views of nature, natural light, decentralized nurses’ stations, adaptable-acuity single patient rooms, patient lifts, and respite areas for patient families and staff are all incorporated into the design of the new tower.”

With expansive views of the adjacent Penobscot River, the tower will support a new main lobby, cafe, heart and vascular care space, surgical suite, NICU, two floors of private patient rooms, and a newly renovated labor and delivery center.

The private rooms are designed to meet the needs of a wide range of patients, and provide a warm and relaxing atmosphere for healing by surrounding the patient with organic textures and ample natural light.

The 29 single-bassinet rooms in the new NICU are designed to accommodate around-the-clock care for EMMC's most vulnerable patients. The NICU, 25 postpartum rooms, 32 inpatient telemetry rooms, and the 24-bed critical care unit all feature rooming-in accommodations for families, improving patient outcomes by enhancing the family's role in the healing process.

The new facility will also include 14 operating rooms with pre-op and PACU, as well as a new sterile processing department. Two of the new operating rooms will be hybrid ORs equipped with advanced medical imaging devices, enabling minimally invasive surgery. The design of these areas focused intensely on infection control, taking into account the carefully orchestrated workflow of the surgeons and staff, as well as creating a separate, dedicated sterile pathway for supplies and instruments. The spaces are connected to the existing ambulatory surgery department, creating one of the largest, most comprehensive surgery centers in the state.

The patient tower is being constructed by a construction management joint venture between Cianbro Corp.(Pittsfield, Maine) and Brasfield & Gorrie (Birmingham, Ala.) and will open in 2017.


Center for Autism & the Developing Brain
Center for Autism & the Developing Brain

The New York-Presbyterian Hospital Center for Autism & the Developing Brain included the renovation of an existing historic gymnasium, built in 1924 and designed by Grosvenor Atterbury, into a new facility for the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of outpatients with autism.

The main gymnasium space was designed as a “treatment village” with flexibly outfitted activity and consultation rooms that can be used by small children and toddlers as well as by adolescents and adults. Activity spaces are arranged in groupings with distinct three dimensional shapes with roofs and doors and windows opening into joint circulation zones within the larger day lit space. Color, size, shape, texture and light are all used to create active spaces and as a wayfinding tool for patients and families. A healing garden, large windows, and brightly painted roof trusses enliven this activity/treatment area.

The building’s unique distinction of having landmark status for both the structures and the landscape made the design a real challenge. The original landscape, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, had to be removed, regraded and restored for handicap accessibility. Historically inaccurate components were replaced with period correct elements. The existing wood roof trusses were exposed and refinished.

Research &

HAIO Patient Room Challenge
HAIO Patient Room Challenge

The Healthcare Associated Infections Organization (HAIO) was started in Boston to bring together hospitals and designers with the common interest of exploring how design, materials, and operations can impact hospital acquired infections in the inpatient setting. MorrisSwitzer is an active member of the group and recently participated in the HAIO Patient Room Challenge.

The Challenge asked design firms to propose novel ideas to increase infection control in patient rooms. MorrisSwitzer's proposed Bio-Inspired Patient Room centered upon 3 concepts:

  • Establish distinct clean and semi-clean environments: The patient bathroom and wet components are removed from the immediate patient care environment to foster a clean zone area around the patient. Housekeeping will be able to access the patient bathroom without disturbing the clean patient environment. Ease of patient access to the bathroom is maintained via hands-free operation of all doors.
  • Create a Care Cocoon for the patient which completely envelopes them with patient-care technology.
  • Utilize surfaces and curved or coved material intersections that do not allow for the collection and advancement of bacteria. Anti-microbial surfaces would be specified throughout. In addition, flush mount technology, lighting, glazing, entertainments, and storage would be utilized to avoid small corners that would inhibit cleaning.

Hospital based staff from Brigham and Women's Hospital as well as Mass General Hospital reviewed the proposed designs and will incorporate the top ideas into a prototype room at one of the participating hospitals.

On the Boards

Jack Byrne Center for Palliative & Hospice Care
Jack Byrne Center for Palliative & Hospi

Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system's Jack Byrne Center for Palliative and Hospice Care recently broke ground with a new 30,000SF facility, designed to increase support for patients’ and families’ physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort. The 12 single-occupancy patient bedrooms have space for overnight guests and feature balconies overlooking the woodlands of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center campus. Flexibly designed for growth, the building can accommodate six additional rooms if needed. The Center also features a kitchen and dining room for families to prepare and dine with their loved ones. Specialty spaces include a meditation and reflection room, massage, music and art therapy rooms, youth rooms, a spa, a family library and reading nooks, and exercise room. The Center will also serve as an educational resource for the region, it includes spaces for regional providers and caregivers to train in palliative and hospice care.