Climate change is an existential crisis facing all people and all industries, healthcare included. Coastal cities in particular have felt the effects of a warming planet over the last few years, with hospitals often becoming one of the core reliable facilities in a city. This is especially true in Miami Beach, one of the most vulnerable coastal cities in the world.
Mount Sinai Medical Center is the only hospital on the Miami Beach island, and acts as a safe haven for local residents as well as the influx of tourists who visit annually. We designed the new Skolnick Surgical Tower and Hildebrandt Emergency Center to improve the entire hospital’s ability to survive a Category 5 hurricane with a “defend in place” strategy. It can withstand hurricane-force winds up to 185 mph, 100-year floodwater levels and extended power outages, as well as act as a shelter for local residents who don’t have a safe place to shelter during an extreme weather event. Beyond designing the building, our Blue Cottage of CannonDesign team prepared staff with training for future state operations for go-live in the new facility.
While built to act like a fortress, the building doesn't sacrifice beauty. The vibrant personality of Miami Beach is reflected in its distinctive design. The sculptural exterior form utilizes compound curves, creating a fluid architectural identity and providing a contemporary take on Miami’s deep-rooted art deco heritage. The building’s ‘eyebrows’ provide shade to patient rooms, allowing clear glazing to be used to welcome natural light into the building and views out.
Visitors enter the tower through a cylindrical atrium that spans three stories. Waves of illuminated wood encircle the all-white atrium and a sculptural cloud hangs from above, creating an entry experience more akin to a museum than a hospital. This experience continues throughout the interiors, where local influences abound. A color palette of blues represent the ombre color of the ocean as it changes depth from the deep to the shallows. Organic forms reference waves, and light shades of wood reflect the sand found across the peninsula.
Our Blue Cottage of CannonDesign team led operational planning, Day-in-the-Life training simulation exercises, and transition planning to educate staff in a new environment with significantly altered processes, communications and technology. We developed future-state workflows for 15 different clinical and support departments to maximize the patient, family and provider experience and to handle the growing volumes and needs of the Miami Beach population. We also helped Mount Sinai open a second freestanding emergency center to bring quality care to Florida’s rapidly growing area of Hialeah.
The beautiful natural surroundings are easily accessible for patients and staff to improve daily well-being. Nurse stations have comprehensive views of the units, and charting alcoves between patient rooms minimize travel distances. Courtyard gardens provide essential respite to patients, family and staff through plants and natural daylight. Even berms and landforms at the entrance mimic the waves of the ocean, creating outdoor “rooms” while minimizing the view of surrounding parking lots.
The collective design strategies and solutions resulted in an updated medical center that fits the Miami Beach ocean-front aesthetic while functioning as state-of-the-art medical facility prepared for our uncertain environmental future.
When we can power up and run our operations for nine days, we’ve created facilities that are as hurricane-proof as I think is possible.-Mount Sinai Medical Center Miami Beach President and CEO Steve Sonenreich