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New Veterans Hospital, Designed by NBBJ, Reopens in New Orleans

NBBJ , the global architecture and design firm, designed the 1.7-million-square-foot Southeast Louisiana Veterans Hospital, which has now reopened nearly ten years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed its emergency power generators.

Two years after the disaster struck New Orleans, seven out of sixteen hospitals with acute care centers were still closed. NBBJ’s innovative design for the new facility exemplifies the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina. NBBJ’s objective was to design a new hospital that would withstand any type of disaster and remain functional and self-sufficient.

The Veterans Hospital reopening was covered by The Wall Street Journal, Co.Design, Curbed.New Orleans, Impact Design Hub, and HFM MagazineMedia coverage described how the facility was designed to protect against progressive collapse. It was built “upside down,” placing power generators and emergency rooms on higher floors to guard against flooding. In addition, the building has a 6,000-square-foot, on-site warehouse, storing food and water in order to remain functional in case of a disaster. Runoff rainwater drains into underground tanks for a backup water supply, and all the patient rooms can convert from single to double occupancy.

One of the essential goals during the design process was to to better understand veterans. NBBJ conducted interviews with over 100 veterans, held 21 workshops, and observed patients in order to design a more appropriate space for their needs. Ryan Hullinger from NBBJ said, “Veterans were once in threatening environments, and they’re always looking at where the doors are and the means of escape from this position. These reflexes don’t always go away when they return to civilian life, so designing spaces that put the veteran at ease was a big driver.”

NBBJ borrowed from hospitality and office design to create a space that exceeds patient expectations.

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