The last building standing: A resilient hospital 30 miles at sea
Remoteness, sophistication and historical preservation. Three qualities that define Nantucket, MA and make it a one-of-a-kind community. These attributes were the driving forces behind our design of Nantucket Cottage Hospital—a replacement hospital for an island that serves a population that swells to 60,000 during the summer tourist season and shrinks to its year-round 10,000 residents in the winter.
Nantucket is 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod and only accessible by ferry or airplane. During severe storms, the island gets cut off from the mainland, and the hospital needs to be able to sustain operations on its own. The facility is built to withstand hurricane-force winds and act as the last building standing on the island with dual electrical and water supplies to provide backup redundancy, mechanical elements on the roof in case of severe flooding, and operable windows for ventilation in the event HVAC systems lose power.
The old hospital was built before cell phones and modern cardiac surgery—the new facility is 30 percent larger and contains a potent telemedicine network connecting it to specialty experts at partner hospitals.
Though it was designed to be a fortress for the island, Nantucket Cottage Hospital also preserves the coastal aesthetic of the historical island. Instagram photos of new parents with their newborns outside the hospital look like they could be posing in front of any Nantucket storefront, as the design embraces Nantucket’s strong history of craftsmanship with its pitched roof and unpainted shingles.
While the mainland may not always be accessible, Nantucket Cottage Hospital is the heart of the island and always has its doors open year-round to all on the island.