Shirley Ryan AbilityLab by HDR | Gensler in Association With Clive Wilkinson Architects and EGG Office: 2017 Best of Year Winner for Health/Wellness
Note the positivity of the term ability lab, as opposed to rehab. An ability lab is an open setting where physicians, therapists, and research scientists all work together with patients—and was central to reinventing the former Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. This mold-breaking architecture project and rebranding effort was conceived by four firms with the institution’s visionary president and CEO, Joanne Smith.
The collaboration began with HDR and Gensler winning a competition, then temporarily combining studios to plan programming for the 27-story, 1.2 million-square-foot ground-up tower. According to the project’s creative director, HDR vice president and design director Thomas J. Trenolone, “Having everyone in one place, collaborating, increased the speed of the process and the creativity of the outcomes.” Gensler design principal Anne Gibson chimes in, “We truly designed from the inside out.” There are 242 patient rooms, plus five ability labs named for their treatment focus: Arms and Hands, Legs and Walking, Strength and Endurance, Think and Speak, Pediatrics. Three are double-height, their staircases vital to the recovery process.
Interior Design Hall of Fame member Clive Wilkinson designed components for each ability lab and developed the extensive graphics program with EGG Office principal Christian Daniels. “It’s important for patient healing to impart optimism,” Wilkinson says. Daniels adds, “The graphics help create a distinct environment for each ability lab.” Particularly vibrant, understandably, is the pediatrics waiting area, its graphics swirling around porthole windows into the ability lab, where children are learning to walk and play again.
Project Team: HDR: Abigail Clary; Jon Crane; Todd Sicken; William Deroin; Kevin Augustyn; Trevor Hollins; Michael McGinn; Karl Lust; Jeffrey Fahs; Jennifer Bradley; Lance Thies; Claire Swanson; Randall Niehaus; Krysia Lynch. Gensler: Nila Leiserowitz; Grant Uhlir; Steve Weindel; Carlos Martinez; Brian Vitale; Linda Mysliwiec; Aleksamdar Sasha Zeljic; Tim Jacobson; Scott Hurst; Chriss Grosse; Lena Kitson; Lindsey Feola; Rachel Sears; Daniel Krause. Clive Wilkinson Architects: Chester Nielsen; Amber Wernick; Humberto Arreola; Ben Kalenik; Jesse Madrid; Evan Bliss. EGG Office: Kate Tews; Mary Kim Harmon; Andrea Lee.