Commitment to green starts up high
Where others saw a typical roof, the designers of the $22 million Cancer Center addition at St. Mary’s Hospital in Green Bay saw opportunity.
Looking for a way to incorporate natural elements on the urban campus, designers decided to use the otherwise empty space atop the addition as a park for patients, staff and visitors.
“In hindsight, if you would have asked a hospital administrator to devote 25,000 square feet to a park on their property, most would say, ‘You’re crazy. We need parking,’” said Paul Martzke, project manager with Howard Immel Inc., Green Bay, the project’s general contractor.
But the 22,000-square-foot healing garden, one of the largest of its kind in the state, couldn’t have been a better fit for the hospital, he said. St. Mary’s is part of the Hospital Sisters Health System, a network of 13 hospitals in Wisconsin and Illinois run by Franciscan nuns who are committed to environmental sustainability.
“They have a legacy of, they call it, reverence for the Earth,” Martzke said. “And so the order has asked the hospitals to implement practices that not only respect the people they treat, but also the Earth.”
The green roof includes 6,000 square feet of walking paths on the two-story addition, which houses the hospital’s medical and radiation oncology services.
“The roof became the main emphasis for everything the hospital is trying to do with its environmental programs,” he said. “This roof has taken what most people would never see, like storm drains and cisterns, and given it a level of awareness. Everybody is getting an education about what we can do to be environmentally conscious.”
The project’s environmental elements continue below the roof, where patients can visit one of two healing gardens: one at the main entrance and the other in the lower level chemotherapy treatment area.
The idea was to bring daylight, plants and water features to a space traditionally devoid of natural light and any view of the outdoors, Martzke said.
“You don’t get the sterile feeling of a health care building,” he said.
The theme was echoed throughout the building with natural finishes and daylight filtered through the atrium. Two of the addition’s interior lounges provide views of the outdoor space, drawing attention to the rooftop garden, which is open to visitors year-round.
“It’s become the crowned jewel of the building,” Martzke said. “It’s a space where everybody wants to go.”