Shaped By Nature: Reading Hospital Green Roof

Sourced from Healthcare Design Magazine

Reading Hospital’s 46-acre campus in West Reading, Pa., has seen significant change during its 100 years, expanding via a collection of additions, new entrances, infills, and overbuilds. Through this, the surgical services grew across five buildings in a fractured arrangement that wasn’t conducive to optimal patient care. In 2011, the hospital engaged Ballinger (Philadelphia) to conceptualize options to consolidate the campus’ surgical services. In August 2013, construction began on the Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care, with the 476,000-square-foot surgical and inpatient tower opening in March 2017.

The hospital administration utilized the last available piece of land on campus for the new eight-story building—an area notable for a 30-foot slope. This dramatic grade change provided the opportunity to situate a significant portion of the 115,000 gross square feet of surgical program requirements below grade. This satisfied the clinical need to collocate surgical services, including 24 operating rooms, on a single level to provide more efficient patient and staff flows. It also created the opportunity for a dedicated entrance to the new surgery center. A five-story bed tower, with 150 new private patient beds, was placed atop the surgical platform, with a smaller footprint than the base below.

However, in early designs, this approach didn’t offer the same healing views that patients were accustomed to in Reading Hospital’s 500 existing patient rooms. The campus includes airy courtyards nestled between brick and limestone buildings, whereas concepts for the addition left large portions of the new surgical platform and its simple stone ballast roof exposed. Taking note of the neighboring Wyomissing Park, home to an art museum and walking trails, designers saw an opportunity to utilize the HealthPlex’s sloping site and cover the surgical platform with an 88,000-square-foot vegetated green roof—the third-largest green roof on a healthcare building in the United States.

The new patient rooms would then have views of the serene healing garden. Patients and families moving throughout the building could also experience access to natural light and garden spaces, such as a tranquil fountain area, a pergola offering shade in the summer, an oval-shaped grassy area anchoring the rooftop garden, and a strolling meadow walk that connects to Wyomissing Park. Skylights and light wells would also allow natural light to enter the prep and recovery platform below the green roof.

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