Colors Of The Windy City: Expanding Healthcare Options To Vibrant LGBTQ+ Community
The Chicago neighborhood of Northalsted — formerly known as Boystown — has long been a place for the LGBTQ+ community to call home. The neighborhood offers many LGBTQ+-owned dining, shopping and nightlife establishments for its residents to enjoy.
Residents of this community will soon be able to access better healthcare services. Howard Brown Health, a Chicago-based healthcare system emphasizing LGBTQ+ care, is opening its second location in Northalsted.
Eckenhoff Saunders, a Chicago-based architecture and interior design firm, is working closely with Howard Brown Health on the architecture and design of the organization's new 91K SF facility. Mark Parrucci, a senior associate at Eckenhoff Saunders and one of the architects on the project, said the firm’s values are closely aligned with Howard Brown Health's mission of providing services to everyone, especially the LGBTQ+ population.
“Its location in the heart of Northalsted shows its commitment to the neighborhood and the patient demographic that Howard Brown Health already serves,” Parrucci said. “Positioning a five-story medical clinic right at the intersection of North Halsted Street and West Cornelia Avenue that provides healthcare, dentistry and retail services, combined with a pharmacy, demonstrates to residents how important this neighborhood is to Howard Brown Health.”
The groundbreaking ceremony for the facility took place on March 25, and it is set to open in the summer of 2023. Because the project has a quick turnaround time, Parrucci said, once Eckenhoff Saunders and Howard Brown Health's partnership was established, the team hit the ground running.
“An accelerated schedule requires quick decision-making, and it takes a lot of close coordination between the client and architect to make it happen,” Parrucci said. “We partnered with Howard Brown Health early on to make decisions about the layout and interiors, ensuring we had everything we needed to maintain a tight construction schedule and to get the building open by next summer.”
Jonathan Dickson, an associate and healthcare architect at Eckenhoff Saunders who specializes in designing healthcare spaces, said the planning and design are centered around the organization’s holistic approach to care while enhancing patient comfort.
“Howard Brown Health has demonstrated a complete view of the patient experience, with one example being their use of consult rooms on each floor,” Dickson said. “Within these rooms, patients have one-on-one conversations with providers about their medical needs, living arrangements, support systems and if they have any financial hardships so they can access support services as needed. Howard Brown Health brings a more relaxed environment and addresses patients’ social, medical and financial needs on a more holistic level.”
Christina Mazurek, interior designer at Eckenhoff Saunders, said that in addition to comfort, inclusivity was at the forefront of the design. The space will include ergonomic furniture to fit diverse body types. The team is also bringing in artwork from local artists, many of them from the LGBTQ+ community.
“We pulled various colors from Howard Brown Health's logo and the surrounding area into the design,” Mazurek said. “Our planning ties back to Howard Brown Health’s mission of providing healthcare for people in the LGBTQ+ community.”
Parrucci said that in the architecture and design, Eckenhoff Saunders wanted to make the building feel distinctly like Northalsted. This included bay windows, seen in many buildings in the neighborhood, and a terrace designed to provide the community with unobstructed views of local events, such as the Chicago Pride Parade.
“It’s essential to welcome people into the building — from having transparency in the lobby to being able to catch glimpses of how the colors of the interiors work with Howard Brown Health’s branding,” Parrucci said.
Dickson said that Eckenhoff Saunders remains in close contact with Howard Brown Health throughout the project, and this close collaboration is helping the project move to meet the summer 2023 opening.
“The project was a team effort between Howard Brown Health, Inland National Development Co., Eckenhoff Saunders, McHugh Construction and the key engineers involved in the project,” Dickson said. “We have a good plan moving forward, and it will be a successful contribution to the community.”
This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Eckenhoff Saunders. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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