With the original purchase of land approved by President Harry Truman in 1946, and construction completed in 1952, the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Louisville has seen many changes over the years. None have been as dramatic as the new entryway that now greets patrons and families. Although modest by size, the 12,600 sq. ft. expansion and renovation project creates a bold new image. The expansion also importantly includes establishment of a high-tech Polytrauma Clinic for the treatment of stress-related disorders.
Constructed on a picturesque outcrop overlooking the Ohio River, the building’s original front entrance allowed minimal room for nearby parking. As the automobile played an increasingly prominent role in the American lifestyle, large parking lots were eventually constructed on available land at the rear of the building. As a result, the easiest entry to the building was through a diminutive service-level entrance at the back. This caused considerable wayfinding issues for ambulatory patients and family members alike. That problem was eliminated upon completion of the renovation. Now, the dramatic entrance is clearly visible to everyone approaching the building. The two-story glass vestibule proudly displays a giant American flag in a symbolic gesture to all who have served.
Design for the project was created by JRA Architects, Louisville. “The driving element for the overall design was wayfinding,” said Mike Nett, JRA’s project architect. “We needed to replace that tiny entrance located against a giant brick wall with something that was prominent, properly scaled and welcoming.”
By boldly contrasting materials with the existing masonry backdrop, the modestly-sized entrance reaches out to embrace approaching visitors. “The entrance is now easily recognizable to approaching visitors from several remote parking areas and provides a warm and uplifting landmark quality to this historic structure,” Nett said. “The illuminated, glowing flag within the prow of the two-story atrium is a highlight and a beacon for the entire campus.”
Inside the new entry area are patron-friendly amenities including reception/information desk, ADA restrooms, waiting areas and a new elevator to deliver patients and visitors more efficiently to services.
Approximately 1,500 sq. ft. of RHEINZINK prePATINA blue-grey Flat Lock Tiles were utilized in both exterior and interior applications. “Early on, the design team was intrigued with the blue-grey color of the RHEINZINK,” said Colin Drake, associate. "The subtle allusion of color and form to military life aspires to create a quiet and contemplative, yet uplifting visitor experience. We hope that the impact of this space on visitors matches the impact their service has had on us all.”
The RHEINZINK also provides an appealing complement to the significant amount of aluminum cladding utilized in the glazing and glazing surrounds. “There’s a nice contrast between the clear anodized aluminum and the blue-grey zinc,” according to Drake.
Fabrication and installation of the RHEINZINK was done by Nu-Way Roofing, Inc., Richmond, KY. The RHEINZINK distributor on the project was DMI, Reynoldsburg, OH.