Though design isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds when they accompany a loved one to a hospital, their surroundings and the ease-of-use within the space can shape their experience. At UC Health, Cincinnati, a new lobby greets guests with an abundance of natural and mimicked daylight for a welcoming environment. Lighting design by The Lighting Practice (TLP) in the all-LED renovation project completed in the last quarter of 2022 reinforces architectural accents, and provides increased wayfinding within the facility.
Due to multi-phase construction, the hospital’s lobby was never out of service. When one side ofthe two-part entryway was complete, work on the second area began.
The original iteration of the site divided the hospital’s entry into two clearly defined East and West lobbies, one awash in daylight due to its high ceilings, the other with limited access to natural light due to its low ceilings. The renovated site, part of a greater master plan, balances the differences between the areas and creates a sense of uniformity with strategically placed 4000K electric light.
“We wanted to make one holistic brushstroke over the project,” says Ryan Conover, lead lighting designer with TLP. “The question was: even if there is not daylight in the space, how can we make it feel as though there is daylight? That’s where the idea of the back-lit ceiling at the information desk in the West lobby came in.” A baffle ceiling system back-lit with tapelight by Luminii opens the area— making it feel less cavernous—and adds visual hierarchy to the space. After calculation studies, mockups and discussions of value engineering with the design team and project owner, TLP was able to execute an impactful system that supported the welcoming narrative and architectural motifs, while mitigating cost.
But what good is a beautiful entryway if visitors don’t know how to find it? “Initially the site wasn’t the easiest space to navigate—and this is always a challenge on healthcare projects,” says Conover. During the revamp, architectural louvers, also called “fins” by the design team, were positioned throughout the site, beginning on the exterior canopy above the lobby entrance. Lighting designers highlighted these visual markers in 4000K so that “even from when [guests] drive up to the building, they can see these accents. This makes for a clear destination and drop-off point,” says Conover. Also beginning at the exterior canopy are a combination of linear recessed slots (Pinnacle Architectural Lighting) and wall washers (USAI) which reach inward and draw visitors toward their next steps—the information desk and partitioned registration booths.
Incorporated within the lobby are the main staircase near the information desk and large registration booth numbers mounted to walls—both featured within the lighting scheme. Handrails with downlights and indirect linear accents reinforce movement and safety on the stair; booth partitions are accented with vertical lines of linear light (Lumenwerx); and highlighted numbers make navigation just that much easier for visitors unfamiliar with the space.
Even if architecture isn’t necessarily top of mind when going to a hospital, most would agree that the preferred design in a healthcare setting is a scheme that is not only pleasant to behold, but allows for easy navigation when people feel unwell, when their friends are in recovery, or when they have newborn grandchildren to meet.
- Ryan Conover, EDAC, Associate IALD, is an associate lighting designer at The Lighting Practice.
- Emad Hasan was formerly with The Lighting Practice.
- Oliwia Pine was formerly with The Lighting Practice.