Case Study Martha Jefferson Hospital

Project Details
Project: Martha Jefferson Hospital 
Segment: Environmental
Location: Charlottesville, VA  
DESIGNER / ARCHITECT: Kahler Slater, Inc.  

Armstrong Floors in America’s Most Beautiful Hospital

The competition was stiff—300 prominent nominees, in fact— but when the 170,000 votes were tallied, Martha Jefferson Hospital was ranked as “America’s Most Beautiful Hospital for 2012” by Soliant Health, a leading national health care staffing provider. Hundreds of decorative features contribute to Martha Jefferson’s award-winning design, not the least of which are the facility’s floors. Armstrong LinoArt LINORETTE Linoleum and MIGRATIONS BBT Bio-flooring are used in the new hospital’s in-patient corridors, emergency department and staff areas. Interior designers Jessica Dellenbach and Kelly Stueber, Kahler Slater, say, “Armstrong was the original specified product. We were looking for a product that offered warmth, variety and sustainable aspects and linoleum was a win.”

Evidence-Based Design

Martha Jefferson relied on “evidence-based design” to incorporate features in the hospital to improve patient comfort. The approach uses credible data about healing rates, stress levels, the need for medication to control pain and length of stay because countless studies show patients heal faster when they feel more comfortable. Putting this approach into play at Martha Jefferson involved bringing the outdoors inside with an abundance of windows for viewing the hospital’s beautiful exterior landscape including ponds, walking trails and a labyrinth with a background of the nearby panoramic Blue Ridge Mountains. Positive distractions such as original artwork and revolving art exhibits adorn the public corridors. Flexible furniture arrangements are available to suit individual patient taste, and each patient room offers sleeping accommodations for loved ones to stay the night. The building itself is easy for staff, guests and patients to navigate, facilitated by an efficient layout, artful wayfinding and signage.

The Armstrong floors were also part of the evidence-based design process. Stueber says, “Selecting flooring materials that offered minimized transitions, low maintenance properties and were easier for staff to push equipment on was important. The Armstrong linoleum selected for the inpatient corridors and emergency department offered just that, paired with a warm and homelike aesthetic. The linoleum application also allowed us to integrate circle insets every ten feet within the floor pattern design for patients and staff to track their steps to recovery.”

It’s important to note that evidence-based design need not be expensive. Martha Jefferson’s design team worked with a mid­range budget and met the rigorous review process of the State of Virginia Certificate of Public Need. In other words, America’s Most Beautiful Hospital was not America’s Most Expensive Hospital!

A Healthy Dose of Color

Dellenbach says Martha Jefferson’s executives are passionate about creating a welcoming hospitality experience for patients, staff and visitors. “Supporting that passion is their love of whimsy and cheerful color. It was important to Martha Jefferson to carry that experience through the entire facility, even into staff spaces , and as a result, not leaving one white wall in the entire facility. The warmth of color greets visitors and staff at the front door and becomes more colorful as you progress into the hospital. The abundant range of colors selected offers variety while simultaneously creating a balanced application to create a timeless but cheerful palette,” she explains.

The array of colors in the LinoArt LINORETTE Linoleum product line offered the interior designers the options they were looking for. The custom-designed patterns include an interplay of rich “odessa red,” toasty “grand canyon,” mysterious “madagascar violet” and golden “gobi sand.” The LinoArt LINORETTE Linoleum family is distinguished from other linoleum patterns by a bold blend of highlights and contrasts. The complex colors enhance coordination possibilities across the Armstrong flooring portfolio and other commercial interior finishes.

Even “back of house” areas inducing staff corridors, staff lounges, clean supply rooms, the pharmacy and portions of the lab were designed with beauty in mind. MIGRATIONS BBT Bio-flooring  tile in neutral “sandy beige” and “golden sands” and accent colors “moss green” and “violet grape” create interesting and colorful geometric floor designs. The MIGRATIONS BBT Bio-flooring tile collection offers a balanced color palette that easily coordinates with other Armstrong flooring products.

Green — It’s Only Natural

It was important to Martha Jefferson to merge the science of medicine with the art of healing in a very natural way. For example, outside there are walking paths, a roof-top garden, ponds and a beautifully-landscaped labyrinth—you can almost feel your blood pressure reduce after strolling the grounds. Inside, the Armstrong flooring complements the external flora in two ways—with nature-inspired colors and with plant-based construction.  LinoArt LINORETTE Linoleum features a range of nature-inspired color options and is made from natural materials including cork, linseed oil, organic pigments on a jute backing. Similarly, the MIGRATIONS  BBT Bio-flooring color palette includes a wide selection of neutrals and accents. It is an affordable, “green” product containing rapidly renewable, U.S.­grown plant ingredients.

Martha Jefferson achieved a LEED® Certified rating as a result of the hospital’s efforts on sustainability and energy reduction. All Armstrong linoleum products can contribute to LEED MR4.0 for pre-consumer content, EQ4.3 for indoor air quality, and MR6.0 for rapidly renewable materials content. MIGRATIONS BBT Bio-flooring also contributes to LEED MR4.0, EQ4.3 and MR6.0, and, depending on project location, MR5.0 for regional materials. In addition, all Armstrong products can be installed using adhesives that comply with LEED credit EQ4.1 for low emitting adhesives.

Collaborative Partners

Armstrong was the logical supplier-of-choice for Martha Jefferson based on product selection, but equally important was Kahler Slater’s opinion of Armstrong as a company. Stueber says, “Armstrong was selected primarily because of our exposure to the company and the great products that are offered. But, we also had strong sales representation that provided the knowledge we needed to generate a successful specification. Our questions were always answered and the mock-up material was provided with no questions asked.” The mock-ups were built to increase the comfort factor for what the flooring would look like in long corridor applications prior to the actual installation.

Armstrong’s dedication to this kind of customer service began more than 150 years ago. While other companies followed the old business maxim of caveat emptor or “let the buyer beware,” Armstrong’s founder, Thomas Armstrong, practiced the principle of “let the buyer have faith.” The company attracted and held dedicated employees who shared the same values and the same can be said for Armstrong employees today. Armstrong has always adhered to the founder’s central belief that the company’s greatest asset was people—employees, customers and neighbors—not just products. 

Products Featured in this Case Study