The Damascus American Medical and Surgical Center will be located in a planned urban development in an undisclosed Middle Eastern desert site. The design of this project reflects the client’s needs for a technologically-advanced ambulatory surgery facility. Moreover, the program of this facility reflects the desire to accommodate several specialties including radiation oncology, outpatient surgery, imaging, recovery and a physician suite.
Inspired by the streetscape of alleyways and narrow spaces of ancient desert cities, the two building wings of the project frame a central atrium space. The atrium is analogous to an incision in that it is a void between two other elements while simultaneously unifying them. On a larger scale it is the culmination of a series of spatial moments beginning at the street. The atrium space serves as a light well to bring light down into all four levels, including underground spaces. One moves from active exterior spaces at the perimeter to within the shelter of a sunshade wrapping around the entrance. This threshold speaks to the idea of the courtyard space present in traditional buildings of the region. Once within this shelter one can view directly into and through the atrium space. The exterior space is an extension of the interior space.
ARTIFACT AND MOVEMENT
An ‘artifact’ of regional stone references the architecture and history of the area. Beginning at the street this monument guides patients into the building. Once inside the presence of the stone serves as an organizational and way-finding element. The stone also identifies the primary vertical circulation path through the atrium. A stone element supports the monumental stair becoming a strong vertical gesture which frames the atrium space.
The treatment of natural light speaks to the nature of ‘incision’. First, we establish a connection to natural light at all stages of treatment from waiting to deep within the program. Light becomes a sculptural element in addition to a therapeutic element… the ‘connective tissue’ of the atrium space. At the perimeter, slivers of light cut into the lower levels. The relationship of the patient to light is maintained as much as possible as a means of instilling comfort. Light radiating out from the atrium space maintains this space as a way-finding element as well.