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Designing Buildings at the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center

Shirish Desai, AIA

Posted: March 8, 2018 | Project Management

SRD Architects Inc. provided comprehensive architectural and interior design services for the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center in Long Beach, California. They were tasked to renovate the existing 11,000-square-foot Spinal Cord Injury Building constructed in 1986 and the 8,000-square-foot Radiation Therapy Building originally constructed in 1993.

The Spinal Cord Building consisted of sections for occupational therapy, physical therapy, and corrective therapy in the basement. The main floor encompassed a patient waiting lobby, a reception area, patient exam rooms, a hyperbaric chamber room, a urodynamic lab, a cysto room, a procedure room, physicians’ offices, a pharmaceutical supplies room, and a personal care area.

The Radiation Therapy Building included linear accelerators, control rooms, a treatment planning room, a mold room, a superficial therapy room, a simulator room, patient exam/treatment rooms, physicians’ offices, and a reception lobby, with waiting area for patients.

Both buildings were in dire need of renovation, as the flooring, ceiling, and reception area were much deteriorated. The moisture intrusion from the slab-on-grade foundation created unsafe flooring conditions. Floor tiles in the showers of the Spinal Cord Injury Building created hazardous slippery conditions for patients.

Design Solutions

SRD Architects Inc.’s mission was to provide an exceptional patient experience through design and the use of state-of-the-art materials. SRD provided design solutions to renovate the existing building, replace the existing floor finishes in the corridors, lobbies, and exam rooms with new floor tiles/sheet rubber flooring, and provide solutions for treatment rooms, the wall base, wall protection, handrails, and the painting of walls.

SRD designed the reception counter to be accessible to the disabled. They also designed all restroom flooring to be replaced, with the inclusion of an epoxy finish, full-height ceramic tiles on the walls, and new toilet partitions in the restrooms. Newly painted gypsum board ceilings, soffits, walls, and door and frames were included in the design. They also designed the replacement for ceiling panels, the ceiling grid system, light fixtures, ceiling diffusers, access panels, and flush-type sprinkler heads.

In response to VA’s interior design standard using Planetree Philosophy, SRD Architects Inc. incorporated principles of patient-centered care design methods in the lighting design and finish selections for a distinctly peaceful, nurturing, and healing environment. SRD prepared free-flowing flooring designed to signify the movement of the patients, along with durable flooring materials in high-traffic areas and energy-efficient light fixtures.

At the Spinal Cord Injury Building, SRD designed a highly functional casework for use by three receptionists. The ADA accessible counter has indirect lighting and a 3Form paneling system to create a hospitality look and feel. A lighter color solid surface counter material was specified at the reception to create an inviting and welcoming environment when a patient arrives at the lobby.

To find the balance between aesthetic and ease of maintenance, the finishes were carefully selected from a natural palette of materials with low-maintenance requirements.

The issue of moisture occurring below finishes was solved by waterproofing treatment of slabs. SRD incorporated a concealed LED light cove concept to create a comfortable, indirect illumination at the lobby/waiting area and patient corridor. Ceiling soffits were designed with curved cove lighting and accent colors. The curvilinear floor pattern creates a vibrant feeling of space. The designs provided a distinct visual flow from lobby to patient rooms by incorporating different floor patterns and use of lighting effects. Epoxy flooring in restrooms and showers was designed with natural colors and a slip-resistant surface texture.

Rubber tile flooring was selected to provide bacteriostatic and resistance to fungi and micro-organisms. SRD designed infection control with an integral cove base at epoxy and rubber flooring, creating a safer environment for patients, staff, and visitors. LED efficient lighting with parabolic reflectors were provided for better illumination. A high-glazed coating paint system was specified in wet and high-moisture areas for moisture control. SRD designed full-height porcelain tiles in restrooms and showers for ease in cleaning and maintenance.

The flooring selection was designed for reduction of slips, tripping and falls, and to reduce noise levels, staff fatigue, and surface contamination, while improving indoor air quality and patient and family satisfaction. The flooring is stain-proof and extremely durable, with a 30+ year life expectancy and slip resistance that far exceeded OSHA requirement. The flooring has ergonomic benefits to patients and staff, as it is softer underfoot than commercial carpet. It has acoustic benefits, with excellent footfall absorption, and it doesn’t reflect noise like more rigid vinyl and linoleum products. It also has reduced maintenance costs, because it requires no polish/sealers or harsh chemicals to maintain the rubber flooring. It also offers ease of repair – gouges and tears can be easily repaired with cold weld.

The wall finish and ceiling selections were based on infection control. They contain low VOC compounds, and provide ease of maintenance and better indoor air quality, acoustical quality, aesthetics, and durability. They also improve the quality of the indoor environment for comfort and healing properties.

SRD specified energy efficient LED lighting with parabolic reflectors as luminaries, which provides necessary functional lighting for the volume of space in the rooms.

SRD Architects Inc. provided review of the shop drawings and material submittals. They assisted the contractor with on-site meetings to help visualize the design intent and reviewed the shop drawings multiple times to ensure quality. The LED cove lighting was eliminated in corridors, including flooring in several rooms of the Spinal Cord Injury Building.

About the author: Shirish Desai, AIA, is the President of SRD Architects Inc. His career spans over 35 years of experience as an architect and as a project manager, having worked for 25 years for top international design firms. He started his firm 10 years ago and received several multi-year IDIQ A/E design contracts with the Veterans Administration, and a multi-year construction project management contract with Los Angeles County. Evidence of his design and coordination skills are evident in the many projects he’s done for a diverse selection of clients.

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