Award of Excellence: Bridgepoint Health

Architects Stantec Architecture/Kuwabara Payne Mckenna Blumberg Architects (Architects in Joint Venture)

Location Toronto, Ontario

The irony of the “success” of modern medicine is that people can now live with multiple diseases. The reality is that this has not improved the quality of life, and it is taxing the health-care system, one of the building blocks of the Canadian identity. This is called the third frontier of health care, and the challenge today is to enhance the quality of prolonged life while reducing operating costs.

A significant component of Bridgepoint Health’s vision to become Canada’s leading centre for the treatment, management and prevention of complex chronic disease and disability involves the redevelopment of its site and facilities. The project is as much about city-building and engagement with the community as it is about creating an architecture of wellness. It will not only provide state-of-the-art hospital facilities but will enable Bridgepoint to create a “Village of Care,” a new model for health care that prioritizes connection with the community, empowers patients to be proactive with their personal health-care programs, and provides a safe, secure, stress-reducing environment to attract and retain skilled health-care staff.

The site, located on the natural eastern boundary of Toronto, presents a range of threshold conditions which in a sense resonate the challenges of complex chronic disease; that is, to adapt to each one within an overall context of wellness. It is surrounded by the lush Don River Valley, Riverdale Park and the high-speed Don Valley Parkway to the west; the vitality of the Riverdale neighbourhood at Broadview and Gerrard to the southeast; and the pastoral Riverdale Park to the north.

The redevelopment concept optimizes the therapeutic benefit of nature for healing by emphasizing visual and physical access to the varied green spaces. It builds on the 2006 master plan which reorganized the existing Bridgepoint site into a nine-square grid of streets and pedestrian paths. The historic Don Jail occupies the centre and a new 10-storey health facility occupies two squares on the northwest edge of the site.

The design concept for the health facility integrates green spaces through the building horizontally and vertically. A meditative labyrinth, an ancient form of healing and reflection, is located at the north ground level blending the threshold between the hospital and the park. Shared therapy programs are consolidated in the fifth-floor sky garden which is conceived as a light-filled studio environment with access to two outdoor terraces. On the tenth floor, a roof garden and greenhouse provide an outdoor space for patients to convalesce while enjoying expansive views of the Don Valley and the city skyline.

The mass and scale of the large 476-bed hospital facility is mitigated by organizing the 51,070-square-metre program into a series of stacked “neighbourhoods of care” supported on a podium which is conceived as an urban porch. The urban porch is inspired by the vernacular of domestic and resort architecture in Ontario, and manifests the concept of the integrated “Village of Care.” It accommodates a caf, multipurpose auditorium, library and terrace which are organized into strategic precincts that invite gathering and interaction.

The plan and fenestration patterns of the hospital facility are seamlessly integrated to maximize views and access to natural light for all patient rooms, shared therapy and common group spaces. All patient rooms are located along the perimeter, and have horizontal windows with low sills to provide unobstructed views from prone, upright and seated positions. Vertical bay windows act as a counterpoint to the predominantly horizontal pattern, and add texture to the exterior expression.

The vision also calls for the adaptive reuse of the Don Jail as a centre for research, education and communication in the treatment and prevention of complex chronic-care disease. The design strategy focuses on transforming the dark history of Neoclassical architecture from a penal institution into an icon of Bridgepoint’s mandate. It capitalizes on the landmark status of the Don Jail and positions the jail as one of the main doors into the Bridgepoint campus. The ground floor is converted into a publicly accessible route that leads from the original entrance through the ground floor into the D-shaped rotunda, and through to the civic court to the north. The interior is completely renovated with an emphasis on drawing natural light in through the solid masonry walls.

The sense of being connected to one’s urban and natural environment is fundamental to how the architecture will create a healthy, supportive platform for living well at Bridgepoint Hospital.

Hariri: The breakthrough here is the patient room and the beds being perpendicular to each other rather than side by side. Big shifts, small moves. There is also the beauty of bringing back both elevations of the Don Jail. Turning Bridgepoint on its side and then placing the gardens on either side of the hospital with the whole entry sequence through the gardens is a terrific idea.

Macy: We appreciate the windows dropping down to the floor height as well as the windows placed higher up so that someone who is bedridden can really appreciate their relationship to the landscape, which is at the core of this project. We also appreciate the careful attention to human behaviour and inhabitation and the consistent and rigorous study in terms of how people actually experience these rooms, and then in a way the faade is the consequence of that. In this project, the award should definitely go to the client as well as the designer because it’s wonderful that both accept the recuperative powers of nature, which has a long tradition across human history. The idea where nature is used for healing is fundamental, and this idea extends from the Islamic meditative gardens to the medieval healing gardens to present day. The project builds upon that tradition, and understands how the idea of landscape is important. We don’t need to look at parking lots, but parks. We can see how the design carries the idea of the landscape all the way into the bedrooms. That’s really beautiful.

Thom: It’s a very carefully studied project in terms of human behaviour, which has been considered throughout the building.


Client Bridgepoint Health/Ministry of Health and Longterm Care (MOHLTC)

Architect Team Michael Moxam (Project Principal), Bruce Kuwabara (Project Principal), Jane Wigle (Healthplanning Principal), Stuart Elgie (Project Architect), Mitchell Hall (Project Architect), Norma Angel, Deanna Brown, Nic Green, Rich Hlava, Silvia Kim, Alexandra Kiss, Jaimie Lee, Lilly Liaukus, Glenn Macmullin, John Peterson, Paulo Rocha, Judy Taylor, Kevin Thomas, Ko Van Klaveren, Deborah Wang

Structural/ElectricaL Stantec Consulting Ltd.

Mechanical The Mitchell Partnership Inc.

Landscape Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg Landscape Architects

Project Managers Infrastructure Ontario

Sustainable Design & Energy Efficiency Stantec Consulting Ltd.

Life Safety/Code Randal Brown & Associates Ltd.

Elevators Soberman Engineering

Vibration/noise/acoustics Aercoustics Engineering Ltd.

Commissioning CFMS Consulting Inc.

Municipal Legal Advisor McCarthy Tetrault

Urban Planning Urban Strategies Inc.

Heritage Architects Era Architects Inc.

Site Servicing RV Anderson Associates Ltd.

Traffic And Transportation Ba Consulting Group Ltd.

Functional Programming Agnew Peckham

Environmental Golder Associates

Archeological Archeological Services

Arborist Bruce Tree Expert Co. Ltd.

AREA Master plan site 41,281 M2; Hospi
tal 51,070 M2; Don Jail 7,120 M2; Block A–Hospital Site 20,153 M2

Budget Withheld

Completion Construction begins 2009

Model Photography Aframe Inc.

Renderings Don Collins, Spacecraft