Category Archives: Insights

UH-North-Ridgeville-Programming-Book

University Hospitals North Ridgeville Health Center: A Study in Architectural Branding

University Hospitals North Ridgeville Health Center Front Exterior

Perspectus Architecture has a long-standing history serving University Hospitals on a variety of projects for the health system’s inpatient and outpatient facilities. Recently, University Hospitals selected the Perspectus Architecture team to serve as Architect of Record and design a new Health Center located on Lorain Road in North Ridgeville, Ohio. The 50,300 square-foot LEED Certified facility opened in June of 2018.

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Project Rendering: University Hospitals North Ridgeville Health Center NE Corner
Rendering prepared by CBLH Design
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Actual: University Hospitals North Ridgeville Health Center NE Corner – Completed

A major part of the new health center’s design process involved assisting University Hospitals in defining and maintaining consistency with its brand for community hospitals and health centers. The design team focused on developing a design that is distinctly of University Hospitals.

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University Hospitals North Ridgeville Health Center Main Lobby
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University Hospitals North Ridgeville Health Center 2nd Floor Waiting Room

Documenting existing design consistencies

Our architectural team field-documented existing facilities in four locations (Chagrin-Highlands Health Center, Concord Health Center, Twinsburg Health Center and Broadview Heights Health Center), creating a comprehensive case study of consistencies that reinforce an underlying architectural brand to use for the North Ridgeville facility and as a resource for future University Hospitals projects.

Upon completion of the field work, the design team consisting of Perspectus Architecture and CBLH Design collaborated during a benchmarking charrette at the Perspectus office to evaluate four major areas of the respective buildings: the site, the building, major interior spaces, and materials.

These design elements were then sorted into four categories: Go, Keep, Change and Add. This exercise helped identify the key elements that make up the University Hospitals brand and inform the visual language of the North Ridgeville facility. Successful design elements critical to the University Hospitals brand include signage, brick color, glass color, metal panels, curvature and geometric features.

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University Hospitals North Ridgeville Architectural Branding & Concept Development Case Study Book prepared for University Hospitals

Visibility and signage

The Health Center is strategically located off Lorain Road, Interstate 480, and Interstate 80. Because of these direct views, visibility of the building’s signage from major roadways was evaluated as a critical design element.

Functioning like the facility’s own billboard, large planes on the roof of the building were intentionally designed as the backdrop for University Hospitals signage placed on three sides of the building. This creates clear wayfinding to the Emergency Department for patients and visitors arriving from the north.

The health center is purposely placed on the 33-acre property to avoid disturbing the surrounding wetlands. The building’s location allows for scenic nature views of the adjacent pond for staff and patients, while also providing the opportunity for future expansion.

Location and wayfinding

A heliport and a covered ambulance drop-off area accommodate patients requiring critical care. To locate the heliport, Perspectus worked with the helicopter pilot at an early design stage with an actual onsite visit and reviewed approach options making sure that helicopters could take off and land safely.

Adjacent to the Emergency Department is the two-story main lobby that is flooded with natural daylight and serves as the transportation hub for visitors moving throughout the building.

The new health center includes an Emergency Department, Radiology Department, Laboratory, Retail Pharmacy, Digestive Health Department and Medical Offices including Primary Care, Specialty Care, OB/GYN and Pediatrics. Tactical placement of each department not only supports efficient work flow, but also provides patients and visitors a clear understanding of where they are in the building and how to move from one department to the next.

Achieving a unified design

Upon completion, Senior Construction Mgmt. Manager at University Hospitals, Debra DeCapite said, “We had a lot of challenges that were resolved which resulted in a truly beautiful design of this health center.”

Collaboration – both with the design team and the Client – was a key factor in achieving North Ridgeville Health Center’s unique image. The building’s design promotes University Hospitals brand consistency and establishes a source of community pride.

Perspectus Architecture Summer 2018 Interns

Our Summer Interns Share Their Experience at Perspectus Architecture

Perspectus Architecture Summer 2018 Interns
Perspectus Architecture’s 2018 summer interns, Sam and Katie.

To many, the end of August marks the bittersweet goodbye to summer and the perennial return of Pumpkin Spice everything. It also marks the conclusion of Sam and Katie’s summer internship at Perspectus Architecture. Sam and Katie impressed us all with their hard work and determination. We’ll miss seeing them both every day in the office, but Katie will still be joining us every Friday!

But before they returned to their respective halls of ivy – Sam at Carnegie Mellon and Katie at Kent State – they took some time to share some thoughts on the experiences they had as interns at Perspectus Architecture.

Here’s what they had to say:

Sam – Architectural Intern
Sophomore, Carnegie Mellon University

This internship was my first “work-world” experience. So naturally, I really didn’t know what to expect on my first day. After coming in, introducing myself, and finding out what I would do, I began learning how to use Revit. After gaining a basic understanding, I was able to contribute to projects (such as Paramount Senior Living and Laurel Lake Senior Living). The work was rigorous yet satisfying.

I really appreciated the times I was able to gain first-hand experience of on-site interactions. It allowed me to gain an understanding into the client-contractor-architect relationship.

Over the few months that I interned at Perspectus Architecture, I became more comfortable with myself in the office environment and definitely became better at time management. I got myself on a sleep schedule and actually planned out my weeks in advance so that I would be able to accomplish at-work tasks while having enough time to be a college kid afterwards.

This summer was also my first experience with a daily work commute, so I feel like I’ve gained some important and possibly life-saving insights into the minds of rush hour drivers.

Though I did enjoy my time at Perspectus, I’m immensely excited to return to school and looking forward to applying what I’ve learned to broaden my knowledge of the architectural practice and enhance my education.

I’d like to thank everyone who supplied me with the opportunities to work on projects, were patient enough to mentor me, and encouraged me to struggle through unfamiliar work to involve myself this summer.


Katie – Interior Design Intern
Senior, Kent State University

During my summer internship experience at Perspectus, I was fortunate enough to experience and learn many new things. Throughout the summer I have had the opportunity to work on many projects. I was able to work and assist different architects at the firm on a variety of projects that were all at different stages.

One of the best parts about this experience was that there was never a dull moment or even a ‘typical’ day. There were always new projects or tasks to be tackled. My favorite days were when we had AIA and IDCEC Lunch & Learns. It was always interesting to learn about new products and innovations happening within the industry; and the lunch was always a delicious bonus!

This opportunity has allowed me to meet new people and develop professional skills that will help as I continue my education and professional career.

This summer has given me an insight into the professional world and a sneak-peek into what my career could potentially be like, which is very exciting.

Everyone in the office was extremely welcoming and kind and I am truly grateful for all the people at the firm; especially my mentor – Christina Litchney.

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Adaptive Reuse: How Preserving Buildings of the Past Helps Preserve the Future

Historic preservation is itself, a practice of sustainability that benefits communities and our environment. The demolition of a building uses a lot of energy and releases large amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Additional energy is expelled during construction of a replacement facility.

On the flipside, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2016 report “The Greenest Building,” saving a historic building for adaptive reuse “almost always yields far fewer environmental impacts than new construction when comparing buildings of similar size and functionality.”

We can see sustainable adaptive reuse in action in the renovation of the historic Circleville High School in Circleville, Ohio. Built in 1916, the high school eventually become the Everts Hill Middle School. When Everts Hill Middle School relocated to a new facility in 2016, the century-old school sat empty and was almost torn down.

Photography by Todd Williams
The front exterior of the historic Circleville High School.
Photography by Todd Williams 
The historic high school was rehabilitated into Everts Hill affordable senior living apartments. The new complex is fully ADA accessible.
Photography by Todd Williams 
Detail above the front entrance.
Photography by Todd Williams  
The historic Circleville High School was built in 1916 and would continue to serve students for the next 100 years.
Photography by Todd Williams
The historic auditorium retains the original proscenium arch and now serves as the gathering area for families and parties.
Photography by Todd Williams
The exterior of the restored historic greenhouse original to the property.
Photography by Todd Williams
The interior of the restored historic greenhouse, original to the property.
Photography by Todd Williams
A view down one of the corridors. The original built-in lockers now function as tenant storage. The terrazzo flooring is also original to the corridors.
Photography by Todd Williams
Historic built-ins that were coat/backpack racks and teacher supply storage are now used for tenant storage.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit living space. Each unit is designed with open living spaces facing the historic windows, which provides ample natural light. The original slate boards were retained in each unit adding to the historic charm of the unit.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit living space. Each unit is designed with open living spaces facing the historic windows, which provides ample natural light. Plumbing for the kitchens and bathrooms are configured along the corridor wall.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit living space. Each unit is designed with open living spaces facing the historic windows, which provides ample natural light. Plumbing for the kitchens and bathrooms are configured along the corridor wall.
Photography by Todd Williams
Plumbing for the kitchens and bathrooms are configured along the corridor wall.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit bedroom.

The City of Circleville had a demolition contract for the property in place when our historic architecture team put them in contact with the developer, Woda Cooper Companies. Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio and Woda Cooper Companies worked together with the city to save the historic high school and rehabilitate it into an affordable senior living community by creative use of the land and existing facilities. The property is now known as Everts Hill Apartments.

“We’re able to place tenants into a building that was about to be torn down, that’s pretty amazing,” says Principal Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, FAIA, Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio. “That’s a victory for the city as well as for the developers.” Murphy also stresses that by saving the building from demolition, we have a measurably reduced carbon footprint.

Meeting Green Standards

The project was primarily funded by the developer’s private funding and through federal and state historic preservation tax credits. One of the chief funding sources comes from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which will reward restoration housing projects that meet the sustainability standards outlined by the Enterprise Green Community program. The Enterprise Green Community program aligns “affordable housing project investment strategies with environmentally responsive building practices.” To qualify, the sustainable restoration must meet a certain number of points in a required and optional set of standards for certification.

Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio and Woda Cooper Companies worked closely to ensure the design of the new Everts Hill senior living community met all Enterprise Green Community certification requirements, even going above and beyond in certain areas, as a sustainable building. Some of the measures taken to meet green living standards include recycling above the required amount of post-industrial waste, using materials that are manufactured and transported from within 500 miles to reduce CO2 emissions associated with transportation, using low VOC materials, as well as efficient heating and cooling systems.

Everts Hill must additionally meet requirements that holistically benefit the health of the tenant through implementing universal design in which the design decision was made to make the building accessible and visitable, a completely non-smoking environment, connected to the community, and available to open space. Residents have access to half the original football field for outdoor leisure and the restoration preserved the historic configuration of the site.

Ultimately, earning Enterprise Green Community certification means the building will cost less to operate and maintain, use fewer resources and contain fewer toxic materials.

Cultural Sustainability

Historic restoration projects also achieve sustainability from a cultural perspective. The buildings are given a new use while the design must respect its past and its emotional ties with community members. The new Everts Hill complex is tied to the community, especially among the older community because they remember going to school there.

Many of the building’s unique features were restored and creatively incorporated to serve the building’s new function while also created to be distinctly reminiscent of the building’s original purpose.  Murphy explains that for a restoration architect, “the biggest challenge in these types of projects is that you want to save everything, and you want to restore everything. But you must remember that people are the clients, not the buildings. And that to make affordable housing, we have to be careful not to go overboard.”

The goal of the design was to maintain the charm of the historic high school, says Dalton Kline, Interior Designer, Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio. “We have design stylistically compatible apartments in this historic building.”

Old classrooms are now apartment units, complete with the original slate boards. New unit entry doors were reconstructed to resemble the classroom’s original doors. Plumbing and other apartment amenities were configured along the corridor wall with the living space along the windows, which were restored to their original size allowing for more natural light in the units.

The building features the original corridors and flooring. The historic auditorium retains the original proscenium arch and is now home to the complex’s gathering area for families and parties. At the rear of the historic high school, the original greenhouse that was converted to a fieldhouse has been reborn as a greenhouse for tenants. Also remaining are the corridors built-in lockers that currently serve as tenant storage.

Previously hidden by drop ceilings, contractors discovered the original skylights, that once again provide another source of natural light.

The existing cafeteria is reimagined as a café open to the public. Creating this space increases the quality of life and provides a community connection between the senior residents and the public.

When asked how the Everts Hill was received by the Circleville community, Murphy explained that during the construction phase of these historic adaptive reuse projects, people tend to be unsure since they’ve grown used to the building as part of the city’s landscape. “But once it opens and has a little life pumped back into it, everyone is thrilled.”

Historic preservation provides sustainability for our environment and our communities. Projects like Everts Hill Apartments at the historic Circleville High School demonstrate that preserving the past can go a long way towards preserving the future.

Shaping Today’s Laboratories for the Future

Whether testing patient specimens or developing life-saving medical advancements, laboratories play vital roles in healthcare systems. Healthcare providers depend on laboratories to deliver the best possible patient care. Patients depend on laboratories to provide doctors with the proper information for diagnosis and treatment.

It is important that the design of these complex facilities best serves these functions, allowing for maximum utility of the space. Laboratory design varies immensely from project to project, but one aspect is universal: the design must serve today’s needs and adapt to changing demands over time.

Perspectus Architecture delivers expert programming, planning, and project implementation for clinical, research, and educational lab clients. Utilizing cutting-edge design and leveraging our technical capabilities, we understand the relevant issues facing labs today. Our specialized knowledge of common trends in automation, equipment, staff productivity, and workflow helps us address each lab’s unique challenges and provide efficient, sustainable environments that provide value over time.

Clinical Labs

Clinical lab processes prioritize output and efficiency in delivering information to healthcare providers. Clinical lab design emphasizes creating an environment that facilitates the maximum performance of each lab’s unique operating procedures and processes.

Designing for process and flexibility

Leading trends in the design of clinical labs focus on increased automation and lean workflows. It is vital that labs can evolve with implementing continuous improvements in their processes.

Cleveland Clinic Robert J. Tomsich Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Institute (PLMI)

We design flexible spaces to accommodate for future growth, processes, and technological advancements. Perspectus took this long view when designing the Cleveland Clinic’s Robert J. Tomsich Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Institute (PLMI), completed in 2011. Now years later, the building is accommodating proposed renovations as it was designed to do – with flexibility in responding to lean workflow improvements and an increase in testing volume.

Cleveland Clinic Robert J. Tomsich Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Institute (PLMI)

Designing a space that allows for expansion of automation to process and analyze rising numbers of patient specimens increases efficiency, minimizes mistakes, and reduces repetitive manual work.

“A big trend in all the clinical labs is automation. It is a robotic system where you send the sample through and multiple tests can be done on it. The results are shown via computer; it’s not just individual technicians running the tests,” says Vlad Novakovic, Principal and Laboratory Studio Lead at Perspectus Architecture, “It’s less hands, all automated.”

Another key focus in lab design is implementing lean principles and practices. One example of this is designing labs to minimize steps and eliminate waste so that the workflow is as efficient as possible.

Waste is defined as anything not adding value to a process. For example, if a workspace requires a technician to take an extra step when they only need to turn and grab something, our design process to eliminate those extra steps that are a source of “waste.”

Primary Clinical Laboratory for Health Network Laboratories – Lehigh Valley Health Network

This was particularly important when Perspectus was designing a new primary clinical laboratory for Health Network Laboratories in Allentown, PA. Tasked with converting an old call center into a clinical laboratory, we spent time meeting with the users to thoroughly understand their workflow processes. This informed the design of the new space that is optimized for their workflows and the elimination of wasted steps. For instance, the departments with the highest volumes are positioned closest to incoming specimens. A robot moving on a carefully planned path distributes specimens efficiently without interrupting lab technicians.

Research Labs

While clinical labs are directly tied to current patients, research labs are linked to cures and medical advancements for future patients. Through thoughtful, rigorous design, Perspectus Architecture is creating spaces where doctors and researchers can investigate new treatments and cures for diseases.

Designing for flexibility and collaboration

Trends in research lab design are centered on creating spaces that allow for flexibility and improve collaboration among departments.

Many institutions are hindered by the inefficiency of decentralized spaces – various departments conducting similar research, but spread out across different buildings or floors.

“As they’ve grown into their facility over several years, they’re realigning departments with a common research focus.  This also means reallocating spaces to right-size their needs as research labs grow and contract,” says Bradley Fink, Project Director at Perspectus Architecture.

Perspectus is working with our lab clients to bring researchers together while also providing common spaces with shared, centralized equipment universal to their research. Designing the environments to be flexible based on the ever-changing needs of researchers is critical. For example, while the sink and walls are in a fixed position, benches or ceiling electrical outlets can be reconfigured to accommodate other research or equipment.

“There is a focus on re-organizing based on types of research, but also grouping like-minded researchers in direct proximity. Shared common space promotes more interaction, more collaboration and can accommodate more research,” says Novakovic.

This focus on creating spaces that can evolve over time and foster interaction ultimately provides more efficient operations and has the added benefits of increased collaboration. As leaders in cutting-edge laboratory design, we plan for spaces that will help our clients provide the highest quality care to patients today and tomorrow.

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Designing for USP 800: Creating A Safe Healthcare Environment

Exposure to hazardous drugs – such as those used in cancer treatment, antivirals, hormones, and some bioengineered drugs – can put healthcare workers at serious risk of adverse health effects. These can include impact or damage to DNA, cancer, infertility, birth defects, and organ damage, to name a few.

In February 2016, The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) released USP Chapter 800, “Hazardous Drugs – Handling in Healthcare Settings,” to address these risks. Chapter 800 outlines a strict set of standards on the handling of these drugs in hospitals and the design of clinical pharmacies to minimize risk. This poses several design implications for the space planning of pharmacies to achieve compliance.

Meeting the deadline

Facility modifications will need to be implemented before the USP 800 effective date in December 2019, placing pressure on hospitals to act now. Our design team is experienced in USP compliance and healthcare design and can help these facilities reach USP 800 compliance by the defined date.

Perspectus Architecture works with top healthcare institutions improving and reconfiguring their pharmacies to ensure that the environment is designed to meet requirements of USP 800.

Our first step is a site evaluation of the physical space by creating a compliance checklist or gap analysis. Then we speak with the users about their workflow and processes.

“We talk to the pharmacists and pharmacy techs that live in the space to identify where improvements can be made with their workflow and processes,” says Ray Minotas, Project Director at Perspectus Architecture. “That will then impact the overall design and layout while also making sure that all USP 800 guidelines are met.”

Key facility improvements

The new engineering and environment control/quality requirements apply to unpacking environments, preparation and compounding cleanrooms, and storage spaces.

“Previously, non-hazardous and hazardous drugs could be received and unpacked in the space. Sterile and non-sterile hazardous drugs could also be stored together in positive pressure – this is no longer allowable,” says Sal Rini, Principal at Perspectus Architecture.

Pharmacies are now required to have separate cleanrooms – one for sterile non-hazardous, and another for sterile hazardous, with an anteroom between them for access. The receiving and unpacking areas for hazardous drugs must now be under negative pressure with at least 12 air exchanges per hour to assist in the ventilation of potentially harmful gasses or residue.

One of the most challenging aspects of these upgrades can be finding the space within the existing facility to accommodate hazardous drug unpacking and storage rooms adjacent to the compounding room.

Minimizing Public Health Risks

It is important to reiterate that the design modifications expressed in USP 800 are the response to the growing concern of dangerous health risks that can result from the exposure to the over 200 hazardous drugs during receiving and handling in healthcare settings. The design of a new pharmacy will vary widely on a case-by-case basis, depending on the existing conditions of the pharmacy. Perspectus Architecture works closely with hospitals to ensure the least impact possible to their facilities and to maintain full compounding operations.