Sailboat on the Ocean Inspires Transforming Care Design

Sailboat on the Ocean Inspires DesignIt was at a dinner with an ocean view that led to inspiration for architect Tushar Gupta, the lead designer for Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s expansion project.

“When I first visited the hospital, we went down to the Shore to eat dinner at a restaurant, and I observed a sailboat on the ocean,” Gupta said.“I saw how the wind transformed the sail.With the wind, the sail was taking the boat to its destination.”

Gupta, a principal with the Texas-based WHR Architects, said he had corresponded with Jersey Shore president Steve G. Littleson, who described the project as a culmination of many years of change, beginning with the creation of Meridian Health, followed by the hospital’s University designation, and its long range master planning process.

“I saw the sailboat as a metaphor for this transformation.It was an epiphany for me,” Gupta said.

On his original concept board, Gupta placed one of his first sketches of that inspiring sailboat, which would lead to the design of the heart of the expansion – the “striking” curvilinear glass atrium.“The atrium serves as a circulation node that leads to the other buildings, the other wings,” Gupta said.The atrium’s dynamic curve of a half cast sail represents growth and is derived from the Jersey Shore logo.

Along the side are photographs and a sketch that illustrates the natural elements found at the Shore.“The Shore exemplifies the five elements of nature; shore is a line that separates water from land or earth; at the Shore the experience of sun, wind and sense of space or the horizon are heightened.This became a source of inspiration from the interior design and palette of materials for this project,” Gupta said.

Sketches on the first panel also show how the design attempts to leave room for growth.“The biggest challenge in designing the expansion was to keep in mind a footprint from the future,” Gupta said.“We had to not just put up a building, but also allow for expansion.The medical center has a long-range master plan and this is the first phase of that plan.”

On this panel, Gupta sketched the atrium as an unfurling sail that infuses sunlight into this space welcoming visitors to a healing environment.The sail is expressed on the interior in a floating glass plane representing the hospital’s high tech aspects and the wood paneling represents the “high touch”, the warmth of the care, Gupta explained.

While the new $300 million expansion project indeed transforms Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Gupta said he wanted the new addition to blend well with the existing buildings.“We did not want the new buildings to be conspicuous: we wanted them to be harmonious with the existing buildings.Therefore we used a palette of materials that existed on the campus,” Gupta said.The extensive use of high performance glass gave the building a feeling of openness, maximized the use of natural light and provided a connection to nature.

Attention has been paid to the details.In keeping with the Shore concept, the east-west concourse is designed to suggest a boardwalk, and the gift shop is like a docked sailboat.Gupta said he wanted the interior of the addition to be open and airy, to suggest light and healing as experienced in the emergency room area, which overlooks a healing garden.The nursing units are designed in three neighborhoods, each given a distinct identity that relates to the water, sky and garden elements found along the Shore.

“No one really wants to go to the hospital, but we want to make them as comfortable as possible when they are here,” Gupta said.

Gupta said he tried to keep two mantras in mind for the overall design: A warm welcome and a fond farewell.“Hopefully, patients will feel welcomed into a place of healing, and they will leave in good health,” he said.