Washington Hospital Healthcare System Imaging Wing

"Many diagnostic services produce a lot of anxiety in patients," wrote Tiffany Rowe, Senior Director of Strategic Management for the Washington Hospital Healthcare System. "We believe the environment of care can play an important role in easing patient's minds — thus we worked very hard to develop a Center where women could access services in a warm, inviting and comfortable setting. The 9Wood ceiling is truly the centerpiece of that effort and perfectly complements the nature-inspired color choices in the wall coverings, fabrics and other materials used in the project. We love it! Although I am not qualified to offer an opinion on the structural qualities of the work I can tell you that aesthetically, it is incredible!!"

In 2003 the Washington Hospital Healthcare System of Fremont, California, began plans for the renovation of its imaging wing. Employing the interior finishes to express its healthcare philosophy required considerable courage and financial commitment on the owner's part. Realizing this goal also required a heads-up construction team as technical challenges were encountered all along the operation, from design to final install.

The imaging wing renovation was designed by award winning architects Fong & Chan who worked to actualize the hospital's genuine "patient first" ethic. As Jennifer Morlock, associate architect recalls, "Our goal for the interior finishes was to stay away from a typical hospital feeling. Actually, the word "spa" was used in our discussions with the client. That's why cherry was picked – because of its rich color. The sun burst ceiling idea emerged organically from the floor plan." The question was how to execute the concept. Leveraging earlier collaborations, Chan contacted Manufacturer's Rep Joan Blackmon of The Finish Line, and the discussions began. Was access needed? Acoustics? What about perimeter treatments? What about veneers? What about seismic codes, especially restrictive in a California hospital setting? How could the sunburst panel lay-out continue to radiate on-module as it expanded into hallways and outer areas? And could it be kept on budget?

9Wood, for its wood ceiling know-how, and Pinnacle Distribution, for its suspension know-how, were consulted. The key issue fell to which type of suspension should be used based on all the interdependent ceiling requirements. "There is rarely a canned solution to suspending a custom wood ceiling," comments Charles Coury, Sales Manager for 9Wood. "It takes a lot of collaborative discussions with the designer. I know it's a cliché, but it's true: a good outcome always starts with a good design."

A custom application of 9Wood's XL Channel was chosen and, at a small number of access panels, a custom torsion spring module. Two extrusions were created to accent different reveal widths. The spoke reveals were to be thin ¼" wide and the radial concentric reveals were to be bolder carrying a 1" wide reveal.

Quarter sliced cherry veneers with extra figure were specially clipped and edge glued into face veneers, and then laid-up onto formaldehyde-free MDF cores. Several iterations of special stains were formulated as well as several "revise and resubmits" in 9Wood's Shop Drawings.

The installation of the suspension grid was particularly challenging. Seismic compliance required the XL Channel extrusions to fasten securely along the panel reveals, which meant that the suspension grid needed to marry the radial panel lay-out. Pinnacle Distribution headed up fabricating a modified XL channel that was stretch formed to each concentric circle radii. To assure an accurate lay-out, Donn brand T-bar was specially punched by the USG Stockton, California plant to ensure an accurate intersection of the radiating XL channel and the mainrunner spokes. Staying on module was critical for both wood and suspension fabricator — an incredible technical challenge. "Our aim was to create a custom snap together suspension system to support this unique ceiling design", recalls Jim Ratzlaff of Pinnacle Distribution. "This was a first for everyone. USG's tolerances were incredible."

"There were quite a few custom elements, as I think about it," remembers 9Wood Operations Manager, Dan Boustead. "We had to expedite veneer production because of a tight construction schedule. The coordination of the panel logistics took a complex spreadsheet and labels, the rings of concentric circles stacking up from A through K. If the layout wasn't hard enough, we had to coordinate a number of special linear diffusers. We also faced a problem with different system depths between the main ceiling with our XL Channel and the torsion spring access panels. Even getting the very last panel installed in each circle was not a slam dunk. Yes, keeping everything on model was demanding." Dozens of programs which ran the computerized router equipment were needed to size the unique pie shaped panels. There was no faceting or segmenting of the panels; everything was radiused and tapered.

Most of the panelized concentric circles radiated out to the gyp walls where they were field cut at the room extents. The trim configurations at the perimeters varied and were painted to match the ceiling. Because of a large quantity of edge exposed curving panels, 9Wood sent a special journeyman team to field cut the panels on site, edgeband, stain and finish them. "The tight tolerances required in matching our field cuts to the virtually unknown radii of the existing soffits made the layout of the cuts challenging, but the resulting crisp lines and tight reveals were spectacular," stated 9Wood's Trevor Rollman.

It is said that basic beauty begins with the glow of good health, shining from within. The beauty of the cherry ceiling affirms the hospital's intent that each patient experience the glow of recovered health. Concludes David Fong Principal of Fong and Chan, "The project design for the Imaging Center at Washington Hospital strives to convey a feeling of warmth and intimacy to the patients. The wood ceiling plays a primary role in this endeavor; it helps give the patient a feeling of well being and comfort in the space due to the choice of a warm color tone and the circular pattern. The circular design of the wood ceiling helps join together two separate, but related departments within the same project to create a cohesive environment."

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