© 2013 Loebl Schlossmann and Hackl

A Healthy Alternative
Interior Design, by Mairi Beautyman

The Integrative Medicine Centre of Central DuPage Health offers an array of nontraditional therapies, from acupuncture to bio-feedback to spiritual counseling. Likewise, architects at Loebl Schlossman & Hackl sought a nontraditional point of view in designing this facility in Geneva, Illinois, turning to Mother Nature for an atmosphere both soothingly familiar and quietly inspiring. Material and color palettes—as well as the Zen vibe—are informed by feng shui's five elements: wood, earth, fire, metal, and water.

Navigating the 5,000-square-foot center, patients encounter a restful and unified design that goes a long way to integrating a space that was once split between three levels on a sloping site. Installing a central ramp, which rises from the reception area at the front to treatment rooms at the rear, helped to reconcile the 3-foot difference in floor level—and improved wheelchair access to boot.

Culminating in an urnlike percolating fountain, backed by a circular cut-out modeled on the aperture of a Chinese moon gate, the ramp also serves mood-enhancing purposes. "It creates a decompression path, coaxing patients to leave their troubles behind as they move into the treatment areas. It's like climbing a mountain to visit an old Chinese sage," explains Jeffrey Liggett, director of interior design.

The journey to wellness starts in reception. Here, patients can fix a steaming cup of tea before settling into a slat-backed café chair or one of Christian Heimberger's plush curve-backed lounges, grouped in a librarylike vignette. Anyone with the urge to splurge can consider spa products displayed on custom maple shelving near the check-in desk.

Because the ceiling in reception soars to 15 feet, Liggett stretched cloudlike rectangles of white nylon at varying heights to bring down the scale of the volume and distract from the mechanicals above. This inexpensive solution appears throughout the project as part of LSH's strategy for meeting a tight budget of $85 per square foot.  Full Article