The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) from 2002 to 2003 left a profound mark on southern China, where the disease affected thousands of people and killed hundreds. The crisis forced major policy changes to respond better to emergencies, and has influenced new hospital design. The colossal new 3-million square foot First People’s Hospital in Shunde, China was completed in late 2017, and features the latest infection control measures and the ability to handle a large influx of patients. The hospital consists of a 2,000-bed inpatient tower, 6,000 outpatients per day ambulatory care center, cancer center, and medical research and infectious disease buildings. Using sustainable design strategies to optimize the hospital’s building performance was also a priority for our client, and a relatively new concept for the entire region’s medical centers.

HMC partnered with Shunde Architectural Design Institute to win this international design competition, which challenged us to design a hospital that combined western healthcare innovations with local Chinese practices. The design also called for integrated sustainable design strategies—a relatively new concept for the region’s medical centers. Our solution organizes a series of buildings around a dynamic, curved spine to create an “eco-atrium” that has the capacity to handle 6,000 outpatient visits per day while minimizing infection risks. To address cooling needs for this hot and humid climate, air is dehumidified through natural ventilation, stack effect and chilled beams, vastly exceeding local energy regulations by more than 60 percent. In addition to solar fins, the hospital’s facade incorporates one of the largest installation of Building Integrated Photovoltaic System in China, which reduces the facility’s overall energy consumption. With a public plaza that celebrates Shunde’s tradition of waterways and terracotta manufacturing, the result is an open, welcoming, green space that the surrounding community can use. With the design’s innovative approach to create a sustainable micro-climatic condition, the hospital’s energy performance vastly exceeded local energy regulations. As a result, the hospital was selected as the official pilot green hospital for development of China’s green guide for hospital design. In addition to numerous accolades, the (then unbuilt) project was recognized with a national AIA American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA) design award in 2011.