To support the healthcare needs of Phoenix’s booming population, NBBJ helped Banner Health design a new hospital that would double as a testing ground for rolling out their new standard of care delivery.

Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the U.S., and serves some of the fastest growing populations in the country. Banner had to devise a way to keep pace with the immediate healthcare needs of its constituents while looking ahead to what the future of care might bring. Conceived as the “Hospital for the Future,” Banner Estrella is the model upon which all future Banner hospitals would be built.

The design aims to strike a balance between three forward-looking goals:

  • Develop a hospital design concept that allows for quick and easy expansion
  • Integrate patient-centered care with advanced technology to create a prototype
    “hospital for the future”
  • Celebrate the hospital’s desert setting for its unique characteristics

The design and planning of Estrella provided Banner Health with a “living laboratory” of how people can work smarter, better and faster to achieve clinical excellence. Performance studies by Cerner Corporation in 2007 showed a 7.1% reduction in average length of stay, a 15.8% reduction in nursing staff turnover and a 17.8% reduction in pharmacy costs, contributing to an annual savings of $2.6 million.

Designing for the Needs of Today and Tomorrow

Banner Estrella is designed to adapt to unknown futures, such as the inevitable shifts in patient care, business plans and emerging technologies. NBBJ created a modular design of temporary zones organized around a permanent infrastructure/circulation spine. The building was planned backwards, starting with the final planned expansion — to decide exactly how everything would “plug in” and interact — then backtracked to the first phase of construction by simply subtracting elements. This expansion strategy became a key component in Banner’s franchise model.

The building is organized along a central spine that contains all the mechanical,
electrical and plumbing needed for patient care and support spaces.
Phase one was completed in 2005 and houses one patient tower with 172 beds
and one diagnostic and treatment wing.
Phase 1
Phase two will add a second patient tower, for a total of approximately 400 beds. The new addition can be constructed without disruption to current hospital operations or the operation of the first tower.
Phase 2
Phase three expands diagnostic and treatment services. In phase four, the fully expanded
hospital will have three patient towers, 600 beds and a total of 1.2 million square feet.
Phases 3 and 4
“ It's a brilliant design in the way you can grow something over time without disrupting current operations. ”

Susan Doria Former Senior Vice President, Strategic Development

Sustainable Landscape
Cost Efficient
Keeping it Cool
Overhanging Roof
Window Shading




months faster

Awards and Publications


AIA Phoenix, Honor Award
Contract Magazine, Interiors Award
IIDA, INAwards
Modern Healthcare Design Awards, Award of Excellence
Westmarc Best of the West Award, Service to Communities, Health and Wellness


Change Design, "Healthy Bones," 2009
Newsweek, "Case Study: Design for a Healing Space," October 15, 2007
BusinessWeek, "On the Mend," July 19, 2007
Health Facilities Management, "The Future is Now," October 5, 2006
Architectural Record, "Banner Estrella Medical Center," October 1, 2006