The stainless steel world of advanced medical facilities can seem light years away from flowers, grass and trees. But Rush is staying connected with the natural world through five sunny rooftop gardens and a dramatic three-story terrarium that will soon bring the outdoors into the hospital.
These indoor-outdoor connections are part of the Rush Transformation, a 10-year project to enhance patient care through building new facilities, renovating existing buildings and implementing state-of-the-art technologies.
Up on the roof
The rooftop gardens were designed to grow a combination of local plants that bloom in different cycles, varying the colorful view from season to season.
These "green roofs" have practical advantages, such as helping to insulate the buildings and reducing the load on the city's water treatment plants by absorbing rainwater. But they also give patients and their families a way to connect with — and relax in — the outdoors.
"Green roofs can bring the calming sense of nature to people who may be going through a difficult time," says LaToya Artis, a project manager in the Rush Office of Transformation.
In fact, you may have stopped along Ashland Avenue to relax in a parklike setting without realizing you weren't just in a park but on the green roof of the underground loading dock at Rush.
The green roof on top of the Orthopedics Building is already installed and visible from the new parking garage. Another will be on the butterfly-shaped top of the new hospital tower. Additionally, a green roof that hospital staff can visit will be on that building's ninth floor.
The last green roof will be located above the Brennan Entry Pavilion — which will be the new front door to Rush — and will be accessible to patients and their families from the fourth floor of the new hospital. This rooftop garden will incorporate another striking addition — the open top of the terrarium below.
Imagine sun, snow, wind or rain captured behind glass. That's what you'll find when the Brennan Entry Pavilion opens in January 2012. A 52-foot-tall, 32-foot-wide custom-made terrarium there will house trees rising toward an opening in the vaulted roof three stories above, connecting the outside to the inside of the hospital.
The terrarium will feature flowering trees such as Allegheny serviceberries, with their white springtime blossoms, and an eastern redbud, which blooms with pink or red flowers. Beneath the trees will grow more than 20 species of ferns, flowers and perennial grasses.
"Your eyes will immediately be drawn to these beautiful trees and flowers in a setting where you would least expect them," Artis says. "What better way to begin the patient and family experience?"
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