IKM Inc

Forbes Hospital Elevator Tower


Location: Monroeville,  Pennsylvania
Completion: 2016
Project Area: 13,400 ft2
Services: Architecture, Planning, Interior Design


Spurred by the increased competition in the geographic market conditions with the opening of a new acute care hospital in the area, Forbes Hospital sought a visible indicator that their facility reflected the state of the art medical expertise that was available within. The opportunity arose with the elevator project. The hospital challenged the IKM Architects to design an elevator tower that would provide access from the surgical department to every floor in the hospital and a renovation to the emergency department intake and waiting areas.

“We understood that the exterior design expression needed to reflect the Hospital’s commitment to increasing and improving medical expertise in new services and employing the latest technologies to assist in achieving this mission,” said Roger Hartung, AIA, NCARB, Principal in Charge of the project. “We were challenged to translate that idea into a physical form.”

What began with the challenge of vertical transportation became a symbol to the community of the rising level of care in the facility. Dr. Alessia Tandin, general surgeon at Forbes Hospital, said of the space just after its opening, “As a user, I totally love it! The elevator lobbies are so peaceful and airy. I already stood there to catch a break, check my phone and answer emails and take in the surroundings. Bravo!”

The primary goal was to simplify vertical transportation and access from the Emergency Department to the upper stories of the hospital. The utilitarian function of moving patients in an efficient manner had to be accommodated by the design solution. The perforated metal panels offered numerous design opportunities for taking an otherwise mundane, but necessary function and dramatically improving its visual appeal.

“The solid and perforated metal panels serve as the perfect screen providing appropriate levels of shade and visually interesting open areas,” said Joe Obritz, AIA, NCARB, project designer. “The patterns create a dramatic interplay of light and shadow; screening natural light in the day and revealing artificial lighting at night.”

The location of the addition offered good possibilities in terms of daylight and views. The eight-story addition looks out over the rolling hills east of the city of Pittsburgh. Known for scenic variation throughout the four seasons, Western Pennsylvania vistas are a contemplative distraction for family members coming or going from visits with their patient-family members. An elevator tower of glass enabled these views to be possible on every floor. Overall, the tower successfully combines programmatic needs with a design that symbolizes the Hospital’s brand.