The new Mercy Health – West Hospital has proven to be an extraordinary place for the delivery of health care, due in part to the uplifting effect of its colorful glazed brick exterior.

The architects embraced a holistic design approach to the project. Connections between architecture, natural light, and landscape promote healing and root the building in its place. The use of color, natural materials, and attention to the entire sensory experience promote a restorative and positive environment. By using high-quality materials and developing an exterior expression that connects to a community’s history, the architects created a 100-year building.

In order to merge architecture and well-being, the architects needed to translate the building’s functionality into its outward expression. They also needed to fulfill the primary design goal of creating a “landmark building, of its place and community.”

Inspired by Ohio’s tradition of art pottery production, the design team used a blue-to-green color palette of the glazed brick that was inspired by ceramics glazes as well as the landform and color of the site. When taken in the context of the sky and landscape, the architecture continually provides a new experience, changing with the time of the day and the seasons.

The unique exterior façade is composed of 11 colors and 19 shapes of glazed thin brick. The architects developed a system and color matrix only after extensive modeling phases. They started with painted architectural scale models, moving to full-scale foam core mock-ups, then to large-scale computer-generated prints of the pattern, and finally to full-scale mock-ups using the actual materials.

The thin masonry veneer is used in conjunction with a fully insulated wall system, which allows the system to reduce energy consumption and related utility costs by 10% to 40%. Triple-pane glazing, coupled with the insulated precast panels, also provides an efficient thermal envelope to reduce mechanical demand and improve patient comfort.

The aesthetic and technical approach to the distinctive façade has proven so successful that it is now being replicated on other Mercy Health facilities, supporting the organization’s objective of providing a consistent brand system-wide.

For more of Back of the Yards High School, see its feature article in Brick In Architecture.  It will also appear in the December issue of Architect magazine.