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A new pavilion by Foster + Partners pioneers collaborative healthcare in Cleveland

The Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion in Cleveland brings together previously separate dental, nursing and medical education programmes into one interdisciplinary facility.

by Zohra Khan Aug 27, 2019

Cleveland Clinic is a force to reckon with as one of the pioneering names in interdisciplinary medical care, research and education in the United States. The institution, since its inception in 1921, has continued to foster exemplary facilities to provide better healthcare for all.

In 2013, the clinic initiated its expansion into a 165-acre sprawling campus for the growth of its 13 major new buildings and open spaces. The masterplan, developed by London-based architectural practice Foster + Partners, places the buildings along a three quarter-mile long verdant corridor which acts as an organising element for the development. This green area provides much-needed open space for the campus that earlier seemed confusing to navigate. This has been mitigated with the new buildings having been planned with their internal circulation and public spaces facing the corridor.

01 min watch The Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic Medical School, Ohio | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
The Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic Medical School, Ohio Video Credit: Courtesy of Foster + Partners

A significant facility in this development is the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion. Part of the 11-acre Health Education Campus (a joint project that includes a dental clinic built right across the pavilion), the project brings together the previously separate dental, nursing and medical education programmes of the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner College of Medicine, into a single, multi-disciplinary facility. Completed in April this year, the pavilion unites the various schools into a cohesive umbrella, where medical professionals, students and experts can collaborate and work together as a team.

An aerial view of the pavilion | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
An aerial view of the pavilion Image Credit: Courtesy of Foster + Partners

The building sits between Chester and Euclid avenues, the two major streets in the city. The site was originally a parking lot with an existing building atop, before it was demolished to build the new 4,78,000 sqft Samson Pavilion. On its west, it faces a green stretch of the East 93rd street, and subsequently a three-storey dental clinic (part of the Health Education Campus) designed by DLR Group. On the east is a stately five-acre lawn for recreation purposes.

A view showing the access road that lead to the pavilion’s entrance   | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
A view showing the access road that lead to the pavilion’s entrance Image Credit: Courtesy of Foster + Partners

The four-storey Samson Pavilion sits in a serenely in its context that largely comprise of low-rise structures. Designed as an expansive rectangular volume with a floating canopy, it has a symmetrically meticulous façade, clad in glass, and punctuated by structural steel bays laid out in close arrangements. Inviting a sense of scale and calmness are central avenues that extend from the east and west edges of the site towards the building’s main entrances on either side.

The new pavilion allows students from the dental, nursing and medical schools to learn together, inspire each other, and collaborate using a combination of the latest technology and shared social spaces, reinforcing the building’s pioneering purpose to create better healthcare for all. - Foster + Partners
  • The atrium provides layered shared spaces for various schools of work together | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
    The atrium provides layered shared spaces for various schools to work together Image Credit: Nigel Young / Foster + Partners
  • Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
    An open plan layout encourages more avenues for interaction Image Credit: Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

The recessed entrances on the east and west facade lead to the heart of the structure - the luminous 80ft high central Delos M. Cosgrove courtyard, which was named in honour of the former president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. A prolific cardiac surgeon, Cosgrove had performed the successful heart surgery of Eric Samson, the famous steel mogul and philanthropist from South Africa, whose generosity further helped fund the pavilion.

During the daytime, the glass and steel truss roof filter abundant natural light inside the atrium | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
During the daytime, the glass and steel truss roof filter abundant natural light inside the atrium Image Credit: Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

To reinforce collaborative working, the Cosgrove courtyard plays a central role in design where key facilities of the various schools are arranged around it through a series of layered shared spaces. During the day, the atrium is flushed with abundant natural light that filter through the skylights. The structure of the roof, combining glass and truss cladding, has been efficiently designed in response to the site’s climatic factors. “The heavy snowfalls in the region drove the structural design, where the roof trusses are pitched to allow the snow to naturally slide off the glass and onto the solid infill roof around the courtyard, ultimately melting into the channels along each side of the roof,” explains the design team. These trusses are arranged to alternate with the glass where the steel spandrels render geometric shadows on the courtyard’s internal walls, creating a dynamic ambience.

The heart of the structure – the Delos M. Cosgrove courtyard | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
The heart of the structure, the Delos M. Cosgrove courtyard Image Credit: Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

An open plan with flexible seating spaces ties together the four separate schools within the courtyard. A wide alley of planters extends from its east and west entrances, guiding a central path for movement and a buffer for the working spaces. Amid white plasterboard walls a series of white oak and leather furniture, designed exclusively for the project, populate the grey granite floor. “The warm, timeless nature of oak and leather materials aid acoustics and create a sense of well-being,” said the team. The furniture and the trees can easily be configured to make room for a wide range of events. 

Monumental staircases cascade down from the corners of the atrium to connect the various storeys vertically| Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
Monumental staircases cascade down from the corners of the atrium to connect the various storeys vertically Image Credit: Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

The building’s circulation has been designed keeping in mind the virtues of collaborative learning and transparency to reflect within. While a series of gargantuan staircases cascade down from the corners of the courtyard to connect the levels vertically, expansive cantilevered walkways lining its perimeter allow for circulation within the floors. Both features, however, link the internal spaces of the building back to the heart of the design by creating viewpoints and impromptu meeting spots all around the structure that overlook the expansive volume courtyard.

  • Work spaces dotted on the cantilevered walkways allow for both privacy and interaction | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
    Work spaces dotted on the cantilevered walkways allow for both privacy and interaction Image Credit: Nigel Young / Foster + Partners
  • White oak furniture renders a sense of warmth within the white sterile indoors | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
    White oak furniture renders a sense of warmth within the white sterile indoors Image Credit: Nigel Young / Foster + Partners
The growing interdisciplinary nature of education and research requires more informal meeting and debating spaces – we have designed a building that encourages collaboration and builds a platform for practical learning and knowledge sharing. - Norman Foster, Founder & Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners

The various spaces within the building include lecture studios, library, conference rooms, labs, admin and teaching areas, recreational and technical facilities, as well as spaces for storage and personnel support.

The building fosters a sustainable, energy efficient design through the integration of smart green technologies - VRV fan coils, LED-motion sensor light fittings, a heat recovery system within the air handling unit as well as sensors that control artificial lighting during the daytime. On the pavilion's north and south ends are winter gardens that provide acoustic and thermal buffers to the exterior, while also fulfilling the functional requirements for assembly spaces.

Longitudinal section illustrating the various facilities within the building | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
Longitudinal section illustrating the various facilities within the building Image Credit: Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

The design attests to the fact that the future lies in collaboration, where to realise such a future is to first create spaces that are conducive to collaborative working. The Samson Pavilion presents itself as a benchmark in interdisciplinary healthcare where the upcoming medical experts can grow by learning from their peers through being continually exposed to knowledge sharing, practical research and recreation by inhabiting free flowing connected environments.

Project Details

Name of the Project: Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion on the Health Education Campus at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic
Location: Cleveland, United States
Area:
Site Area: 479,160 sqft
Gross Area: 478,621 sqft
Completion: April 2019
Client: Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University
Architect: Foster + Partners

  • Site Plan | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
    Site Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Foster + Partners
  • North Elevation | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
    North Elevation Image Credit: Courtesy of Foster + Partners
  • West Elevation | Cleveland Clinic | Foster + Partners | STIR
    West Elevation Image Credit: Courtesy of Foster + Partners

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than two years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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