Building in the City

- Charleston Medical District - 

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The Medical Complex: A Distinct Urban Typology

The initial studio work entailed a comprehensive and analytical assessment of Charleston’s urban core to distill a fundamental understanding of the form / structure of the urban condition that comprises the mid to lower peninsula. (See Charleston Analysis Page.) With the peninsula analysis completed, the joint-studio adapted that work to an analysis of the medical district to provide a critical background for redevelopment of the public realm. The second phase of the semester long studio project continued the work of the first project but will focus on the medical district; specifically that will begin with an analysis of the Form / Structure / Functional / Fabric / Typological / Morphological / Perceptual elements.

The principal objective of this work is prepare a conceptual urban plan for the medical district that embraces the ideal of a “healthy medical environment” linked with the larger city fabric. The district, as is typical of urban medical centers, is essentially distinct from the city fabric that is a consequence of the unique nature of such institutions and its developmental history. Medical centers, and in particular academic medical centers, are generally characterized by large, institutional buildings developed over time in an ad hoc fashion, typically focused on the interior workings of the various buildings that make up the campus, accommodating large parking demand, all of which is in a constant state of change and disruption - churn. This characterization can be applied to cities in general for which the project thesis implies, but even within larger more urbane cities.

Over the years, the CAC.C conducted two community service projects with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) that included reconsideration of the academic library in Fall 2010 (“re-conceptualizing ARCH+library”) and redevelopment of public spaces for MUSC only in Spring 2011 (“Creating a Regenerative Environment”).

Three years ago, a new president, Dr. David Cole, was installed at MUSC
Dr. Cole has a notion of connecting the three existing medical complexes (MUSC, Roper St. Francis and Veterans Administration) into a medical district. He was later made aware of the work of the CAC.C studio and directed facility planners to pursue a plan for creating a greenway. This effort was realized in a series of design charrettes resulting in a conceptual proposal that is currently being developed. Dr. Cole’s
charge is simple:


"...To develop a healthy medical district that shifts the focus to a pedestrian-friendly environment that supports a healing interconnected medical environment..." -Dr. Cole, MUSC President

A Total Healing Environment

To answer the key questions posed for this Urban Design challenge, our group identified several key moves and strategies based on the previous urban fabric and best-practice, case study analysis that would form the frame work for how we can create a healthier urban environment for MUSC.  

To download the entire presentation, please click here: Comprehensive Master Plan : Total Healing Environment

Key Strategies and Moves

1. Should such a medical district be integrated into the city fabric, or given such a district’s unique mission and character, should such “knitting” to the immediate context be tempered? 

2. How does a well-established district such as the medical district plan for the effects of climate change? 

3. How should the district prepare for changes in transit and modes of travel in developing its infrastructure? 

4. How public should the district public realm be given its highly specialized mission? To answer the key questions posed for this Urban Design challenge, our group identified several key moves and strategies based on the previous urban fabric and best-practice, case study analysis that would form the frame work for how we can create a healthier urban environment for MUSC.  (Click to Enlarge:)

Visualizing Urban Strategies for MUSC - Penninsula View [West]

Visualizing Urban Strategies for MUSC - From the water [East]

Understanding MUSC Conditions spatially and sectionally, helped determine how to apply design guidelines (Anchor to the Earth, Multi-Nodal Accessibility, Aggregation of Scale/Servic, Integration of Focal Points, Relationship with the Pedestrian, Accommodate Trends of Expansion and Contraction) into 6 key moves and strategies at various points in the district. Below are the implementation and sequence of those strategies, combined with character vignettes of the urban space created.

Plan Diagrams & Growth

We then developed a base plan, from the usage, zoning and density analysis to project and determine what the best growth strategies would be for the district. Truly, we wanted to create a resilient environment that would be flexible and adaptive towards the inevitable growth and stresses.  

This urban design analysis set the framework for the third and final hospital phase, where the Phase III Hospital Expansion responded to these conditions. (See MUSC Hospital: Building as Healing)

Project Group Members: Jessica Welch, Yingce Haung

 

For more information on the CAC.C, please visit: The Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston

To view first phase Charleston urban analysis project Click Here: Charleston Analysis

To view the Phase III Hospital project, Click Here: MUSC Hospital: Building as Healing