The World's 8 Most Architecturally Beautiful Hospitals
Hospitals are not always the cheeriest place. But a beautifully designed hospital can make even an extended stay feel more peaceful and comforting, lifting spirits for patients and families as well as doctors and staff. These eight hospitals consider both the physical and emotional well-being of their patients. Diverse in style and structure, they are united in the care and forethought with which they were built.
1. Royal Children’s Hospital | Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
A stark hospital can be anxiety-inducing enough for any patient, let alone a scared and sick child. Dallas-based architecture firm HKS Inc.’s goal for the redesign of Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital was to create an environment that was nurturing and therapeutic.
“By giving a child a chance to be a kid,” the firm stated, “a hospital can alleviate any fear that a child has and help facilitate the healing process.”
With playgrounds and a two-story aquarium, the hospital offers inviting safe spaces that meet the emotional needs of its patients. Meanwhile, its open spaces, mobile sculptures, and vibrant sun-shading petals impart an airy brightness—colorful in a way that’s neither garish nor cartoonish, but instead warm and engaging. The hospital’s five-star Green Star rating shows that the structure goes above and beyond to accommodate its surroundings as well as its patients.
2. Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula | Monterey, CA, USA
On the northern California coast, Monterey is a city that boasts no shortage of striking natural beauty. Built along Pebble Beach in the 1960s by modern architecture pioneer Edward Durrel Stone, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula incorporates that beauty directly into its aesthetic through a masterful use of light, gardens, and other natural elements. Stone’s midcentury aesthetic looks as fresh and modern today as it did 50 years ago, and the hospital continues to stay true to its look with each new addition from its Pavilions expansion to its Ryan Ranch outpatient campus.
3. Akershus University Hospital | Lørenskog, Norway
Designed by legendary award-winning Danish architectural firm C. F. Møller Architects, the Akershus University Hospital is considered the most modern hospital in all of Europe.
“The design of the complex reveals the influence of the high priority given to daylight for all workplaces, views of the surrounding landscape, and contact with the outside environment,” states the firm in its project profile, noting its widespread use of glass and wood panels to create varied textures and friendly informal spaces.
Completed in 2008, the hospital won Best International Design at the prestigious Building Better Healthcare Awards in 2009.
4. Florida Hospital Waterman | Tavares, FL, USA
The stark institutional feel of a hospital can instantly make a patient feel ill at ease - with the construction of Florida Hospital Waterman, the goal was to diffuse that anxiety with a serene and inviting design.
“We wanted a facility that didn’t have the traditional health care look, in order to make patients more comfortable,” said Mike Hoffmeyer, a Dallas-based principal with architectural firm RTKL Associates who completed the project alongside Jonathan Bailey Associates in 2003.
The most striking aspect of the hospital is the 3-story atrium, which acts as the hospital’s hub and main lobby. While the atrium’s surrounding windows offer peaceful views of surrounding lakes and woods, its translucent fiberglass fabric roof is soft enough to let in light yet strong enough to protect patients and visitors inside.
5. Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Children | Orlando, FL, USA
With the stunning glass globe and cable-suspended canopy at its entrance, preceding 11-story columns of dark glass towering along the Orlando skyline, Winnie Palmer could easily be mistaken for a luxury resort hotel. But the $100 million structure is a hospital specializing in women’s and children’s care, conceptualized by global architectural firm Jonathan Bailey Associates UK LTD to feel more like a restful and rejuvenating hotel stay than a stressful hospital stay.
6. Harlem Hospital | Manhattan, New York, NY, USA
In 1936, the Works Progress Administration commissioned several murals to brighten Harlem Hospital Center as part of its Federal Art Project program. The problem with murals is that they may fade or decay with time. But as part of a $325 million modernization project in 2012, these murals have been digitally restored and preserved for future generations, printed on backlit glass to turn the hospital’s new patient pavilion into a vibrant piece of historic art five stories high and the width of a New York City block.
“All the murals tell wonderful stories,” Chuck Siconolfi, senior principal for health care at overseeing architectural firm HOK, told the New York Times at the pavilion’s launch. “We said, ‘Let’s go beyond displaying these murals and make them emblematic of the whole community and its role in American life.”
7. The London Clinic | London, England, UK
London’s stylish upscale Marylebone district is home to several iconic sites, from Sherlock Holmes’ own 221B Baker Street to The London Clinic at 20 Devonshire Place. Looking more like a boutique hotel than a hospital, The London Clinic has retained its historic style since its doors opened in 1932. In 2010, architectural firm Anshen + Allen succeeded in designing a brand new 8,000-square meter 8-story cancer center that is thoroughly modern while blending perfectly with the original site’s aesthetic.
Earlier this year, Avanti Architects announced that it will be taking on renovations to the main hospital site, with updates including a new Harley Street entrance and an 8-story atrium.
8. Providence Holy Cross Medical Center | Mission Hills, CA, USA
In 2011, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, CA opened the doors to its South Tower Expansion. The $180 million project, entrusted to HMC Architects and Swinerton Builders, is 4 stories of crisp angular structure and cool mosaics of ocean-colored glass. Beyond its aesthetic beauty, the hospital is also beautiful move for the environment—HMC Architects notes that it’s one of the first inpatient hospitals in the state of California to make a bid for LEED Silver certification.
COVID-19 "causing mass trauma among world’s nurses"
Healthcare providers are facing ongoing nursing shortages, and hospitals are reporting high rates of staff turnover and burnout as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In June a report found that levels of burnout among staff in England had reached "emergency" levels.
Registered nurses Molly Rindt and Erika Haywood are nurse mentors on US recruitment platform Incredible Health. In this joint Q&A they tell Healthcare Global about their own experiences of burnout and what can be done to tackle it.
What does it mean to be suffering from burnout?
Some of the most common reasons for nurse burnout include long work hours, sleep deprivation, a high-stress work environment, lack of support, and emotional strain from patient care.
While every profession has its stressors, the nursing industry has some of the highest burnout rates. The massive influence on patients’ lives, the long hours, and many other factors put nurses at risk of severe burnout. And with the rise of COVID-19, many healthcare professionals feel the strain more than ever.
Burnout in nurses affects everyone — individual nurses suffer, patients are impacted, and employers struggle with enormous turnover. This is why it’s crucial for healthcare systems and management to watch for signs of nurse burnout and take steps to provide a healthier workplace. Employers should be careful to watch for burnout symptoms in their healthcare staff — and not ignore them.
Symptoms include constant tiredness, constant anxiety related to work, emotional detachment and unexplained sickness.
How widespread is this problem?
Unfortunately, burnout affects approximately 38% of nurses per year and even the WHO recently labelled burnout as an official medical diagnosis. To put this statistic into perspective, nearly 4 out of 10 nurses will drive to work dreading their shift. Burnout is a reason nurses leave their positions.
Other top reasons for leaving included a stressful work environment, lack of good management or leadership, inadequate staffing, and finding better pay or benefits elsewhere.
Even before the pandemic, demanding workloads and aspects of the work environment such as poor staffing ratios, lack of communication between physicians and nurses, and lack of organisational leadership were known to be associated with burnout in nurses.
Have either of you experienced burnout?
Rindt: I have experienced burnout as an RN. I was constantly fatigued, never felt like I was off work, and would frequently dream I was still at work taking care of patients. In my particular situation, I needed to take a step back and restructure my work schedule to allow for more time off. After doing this, I was able to reduce burnout by deciding to work two shifts back-to-back and then have 2-3 days off.
Haywood: I definitely experienced constant anxiety related to work - so much so it would impact the days I wasn’t at work. At one point, I was even on medication to help combat the anxiety and stress I was facing on the job.
I had heart palpitations, chest pain, and wouldn’t be able to sleep before working the next day, which slowly started to impact other aspects of my life. I knew I couldn’t continue to live this way, it wasn’t sustainable. Because of this, I began to focus on my needs and prioritising self-care, especially during the beginning of the pandemic. Putting my needs first and not feeling guilty were necessary for me to overcome burnout.
What impact is COVID-19 having on nurses' wellbeing?
Some nurses have suffered devastating health consequences. Many nurses have dealt with excessive on-the-job stress, fears of becoming infected, and grief over seeing patients succumb to COVID-19 while isolated from their families.
New evidence gathered by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) suggests COVID-19 is causing mass trauma among the world’s nurses. The number of confirmed nurse deaths now exceeds 2,200, and with high levels of infections in the nursing workforce continuing, overstretched staff are experiencing increasing psychological distress in the face of ever-increasing workloads, continued abuse and protests by anti-vaccinators.
However, other small silver linings that came from the pandemic include increased professional autonomy, leadership opportunities and career growth potential.
How much of the cause of burnout is due to the hospitals or healthcare providers, and what can they do to address it?
Nurse fatigue poses serious problems for healthcare organisations, and a recent survey from Kronos found 63% of nurses say their job has caused burnout. The survey also found that more than 4 out of 5 nurses think hospitals today are losing good staff because other employers offer a better work/life balance.
Nurse burnout not only contributes to staff turnover, but it can impact the facility’s quality of care, patient satisfaction, and even medical outcomes.
Strategies to address burnout include training improving nurse-to-patient ratios, include nurses in policy discussions, and prioritise fostering a healthy work culture in hospitals.
What does your role mentoring nurses on the Incredible Health platform involve?
Rindt: My role can vary based on the needs of the nurses. The nurses love knowing they have someone in their corner who can give interview preparation advice or provide suggestions on how to improve their resume. Knowing that there is someone who is well-versed in the job process and can help set expectations on what to anticipate, really helps to remove a layer of uncertainty.
Haywood: When screening nurses, it is customised to what their individual RN or nurse practitioner needs, and at a time that is most convenient for them. Nurses are busy and often aren’t thought of first. Being able to provide support from the very beginning of their career advancement journey helps tremendously. We also provide resources such as resume templates and tips that can help nurses be successful and feel supported.