Installing resilient sheet vinyl across 200 acres and in seven buildings of up to three floors is no small feat, but that’s exactly the challenge faced by the team at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in Chicago and Lake Forest, Ill. The project is an example of how a new building can support best practices in patient care. Not only does the space support the clinical needs of rapidly advancing healthcare, but the interiors provide a life-affirming atmosphere that connects people to nature instead of an old fashioned, sterile hospital environment.
Everything—from the organization of the space and the experience traveling through the building to the individual treatment care areas—was designed with the patient experience in mind, according to Abigail Brueggeman, project manager for Northwestern Memorial Hospital System. The interiors are grounded with a soothing neutral palette that uses color for wayfinding cues and concentrates bright color and visual interest in a palette composed of nature images and abstract compositions. Hospitality principles and attention to comfort were also studied and implemented in waiting areas and patient rooms.
“Our goal for the project was to create a facility that would deliver the best patient experience, provide world-class healthcare, respect the environment of our campus, and become a destination for wellness while strengthening the ties to our local communities,” Brueggeman said.
An important component of the project and the palette was the flooring, which featured Teknoflor Forestscapes and Teknoflor Classic Cut resilient sheet by Shannon Specialty Floors.
“We were able to take cues from other projects in our health system and study what was working for those spaces and tap into a wealth of information about materials and finishes we have used at our other buildings,” Brueggeman said. “In the end, we made decisions on lifecycle principals, not just implementation costs.”
The Lake Forest Hospital replacement had several challenges during the value engineering phase that forced the team to work closely with the entire group of contractors and professional staff on the project.
“At one point in the project, we were looking very closely over budget and had to make some hard choices to bring the project back in line,” Brueggeman said. “That was a painful point, but it forced us to be very purposeful in how we selected the finishes, and in the end, we finished without sacrificing the quality or durability of the materials.”
Brueggemann said her team has a lot of experience with flooring, dealing with cleaning regimens, failures, along with discussions about patterns and style longevity.
“We have tested out no-wax floors, floors that require periodic maintenance, and have had more failures than we can count,” she said. “When you find products that have great style, as well as longevity, and are easily maintained like the Teknoflor line, it is a win-win for everyone. It allows us to build our finish palettes around something that has staying power and always looks great. That makes my job easier and my cleaning staff is appreciative that they are considered.”
Flooring Resources, a commercial flooring contractor based in Elk Grove Village, Ill., was in charge of the installation.
“It’s a no-wax product, very user-friendly and easy to weld,” said Bryan Carpenter, site foreman for Flooring Resources. Eight to 12 installers worked on the install at any given time, and he said he found that dye lots on the Teknoflor Forestscapes sheet vinyl very consistent from roll to roll and that he found the visuals to be realistic. “So many people come up and ask if it’s real wood,” he said.
Nicole Woletz, senior project administrator for Flooring Resources, said her team managed many change orders on this project, on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.
“I’ve been working with Teknoflor since I started working on this account and I don’t have enough good things to say,” she said. “Typically, our orders ship the next day and we get them in one to two days.”
Part of her challenge was ensuring inspections were completed at the end of each phase.
“The hospital makes sure we are installing the product per the manufacturer’s recommendations, so we have to schedule our Teknoflor rep and any other manufacturer that’s working on the project, to meet with our installer,” Woletz said. “They would typically get me the report within a day.”
“We have been in the building for a year now, and the materials and the space still feel new and fresh,” Brueggeman said. “Being part of the in-house construction team allows me the opportunity to observe how people use the space, walk around, and check out how materials are holding up—and receiving feedback about things when they work or don’t quite meet the mark. The feedback helps me understand what really has performed well and which applications work in our environment.”