Riverside Health Center

Riverside Health Center
New York, NY
42,000 SQ FT
Health Facility

Year and month completed: December 2014

Project partners:
Project Owner: New York City (NYC) Departments of Mental Health & Hygiene and Design
& Construction
Architect: 1100 Architect
Artist: Richard Artschwager
Sustainability + Lighting Consultant: Atelier Ten
Structural Engineer: Robert Silman AssociatesMEP Engineer: Buro Happold Consulting Engineers
Cost Estimator: Stuart-Lynn Company
Expeditor: William Vitacco Associates
Landscape Architect: Quennell Rothschild & Partners
Civil Engineer: Macdel Engineering
Vertical Transportation Systems: Van Deusen & Associates
Audio Visual Consultant: Shen Milsom & Wilke
Food Service Consultant: KDS

Project Summary:
Redefining the potential benefits of a health facility, the design team of the Riverside Health Center (Riverside) aimed to use the building to promote the health of visitors and staff. Built as part of the city’s Design Excellence Program, Riverside re-envisions how the design of a building can support the physical and mental health of its users. From the outset, the design team collaborated with several city agencies on the development of architectural solutions that encourage physical activity, which eventually played a role in developing the Active Design Guidelines and the LEED Innovation Credit, “Design for Active Occupants.”

Riverside was transformed from a deteriorating 1960’s building into a vibrant community health center. Given its central location and proximity to housing developments and public amenities such as a library, fire station, school, playground, and park, the building’s façade and exterior spaces were designed to contribute to the pedestrian environment. The design team refurbished the façade and upgraded the landscaping to contribute to a sense of vibrancy and openness in the surrounding public spaces. The highlight of the façade design is the skin of orange terra-cotta tiles that wrap and visually locate building’s main stairwell. This feature was designed by artist Richard Artschwager, in collaboration with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program. Artschwager creatively highlights the stairwell, making it an essential part of the building’s outward identity.

The design strategies used in the building’s interior were largely focused on brightening rooms and corridors with new finishes and larger windows, and reorganizing building programming with simpler circulation paths. Space for employee respite is provided through a green roof garden.

Riverside offers a wide range of services, which are managed by the city’s Department of Health. Sample services include training courses run by the NYC Health Academy, free maternal and childhood health programs run by the Nurse Family Partnership, health and preventive services provided to public school students by the Office of School Health, an STD clinic, and access to primary care. An on-site auditorium also serves as an emergency operations center for Manhattan. By transforming and enlivening the building programming, infrastructure, and appearance, the Riverside project demonstrates how a health facility can genuinely expand its capacity to promote health.

Active Design Highlights

  1. The main public staircase, formerly hidden, is located near the main entrance, colorful, daylit by large windows to the outdoors, and complemented by stair prompt signage on every floor.
  2. Materials and finishes are consistent throughout stairwell interiors and the rest of the facility to reinforce the stairs’ role in the building’s overall circulation.
  3. Circulation throughout the facility was improved by reorganizing the building layout to group similar programs, supporting easier wayfinding and movement between rooms.
  4. An exercise room, lockers, showers, and bicycle racks are featured on-site to support employee fitness. Class programs are also offered.
  5. Exterior improvements such as facade refurbishment, upgraded landscaping, and a green roof garden contributes a sense of vibrancy to the surrounding pedestrian realm.
  • User Side Images Image 527
    Windows and glass doors increase daylight and visibility in the stairwell. © Nikolas Koenig. Courtesy of 1100 Architect.
  • User Side Images Image 529
    Stair prompts and glass windows on entryways provide visual cues for using the stairwells. © 1100 Architect.
  • User Side Images Image 530
    A new green roof and terrace with Bris Soleil adds to the Health Center’s goals for sustainability and health, providing green space for outdoor relaxation. © Nikolas Koenig. Courtesy of 1100 Architect.
  • User Side Images Image 531
    Orange tiles visually wrap and visually locate the building's staircase. © Nikolas Koenig. Courtesy of 1100 Architect.