Chestatee Hospital – Petal Certified Rural Community Healthcare Center

The state of the healthcare system is one of the major factors contributing to the well-being of any community. Unfortunately, rural areas in the United States, including Georgia, have suffered a decline of its quality and availability.

This facility has therefore been designed as a resilient Community Healthcare Center in response to the rural needs using the Living Building Challenge Petal Certification.

This inpatient and outpatient healthcare facility responds to the complex programmatic, workflows and regulatory framework of this building typology and implements innovative biophilic and biomimicry designs solutions to optimize occupant comfort and well-being and aims towards energy independence.

Design Challenge

From an architectural stand point, the main challenges where three-fold: - Adapted rurally (scale and program) - Optimized working and healing experience - Improve resiliency through energy independence As a response, the following concepts were implemented: 1. Resiliency/Biomimicry: for resilience, the changing healthcare needs of the community will require future modifications of the facility. Nature showcases great examples of adaptation to changes and growth (gastropod). The curved shape creates a protected and calm area around the entry points and organized the facility around a circular circulation. This allows for department to grow outward or along the curve. 2. Variations & Constants: The floor plan and elevations were designed with a circularly organized pattern, alternating green spaces and departments along a curve of varying radii. This helps with structural simplicity and organization, but also brings peace and reduces stress, while some variations participate in wayfinding. 3. Rural Scale: The facility does not exceed two stories and is broken up along the façade following the same floor pattern of alternation between departments and green spaces. The goal here is to improve the patient’s familiarity and comfort level when approaching the building. 4. Biophilia: Light and Nature: The word ‘Chestatee’ means “place of lights” in Cherokee Indian. Natural light, elements and shapes have been demonstrated to have positive impact on the wellbeing and healing. Therefore, access to natural light, vegetation, as well as curved shapes are emphasized. 5. Energy Optimization – Solar Canopy: Similarly to tree canopies, the solar canopies are designed to protect the roof, windows and mechanical equipment from direct sun exposure, while producing energy. The canopies angles vary based on the orientation for optimized performances.

Physical Context

The property is located in a rural area of Lumpkin County, GA on a 57 acres lot along the largest route passing through the county. It is also in proximity to Dahlonega, GA and is surrounded by hills and forest as well as the Chestatee River. The site was originally divided in three small hills. The previous developer flattened them for the originally proposed commercial development (the project was abandoned during the last recession after cleaning and grading the site). To acknowledge for the past presence of these hills, the buildings and facilities will be generally constructed in the areas of these past hills. The main healthcare facility will be on one hill (north), the farming area required by the Place Petal will be on another (center). The last hill will be occupied by a Supportive Living facility for physically and mentally challenged individuals. The varying slope of the canopy and rounded shapes of the building is also in response and in honor of the past topographic history of the site and surrounding areas.