A Prescription
for Performance

Using architectural solutions to create a new project site on a tight urban campus, NBBJ’s design of the Montlake Tower provides space for a critical expansion of the University of Washington Medical Center.

To accommodate a seamless expansion, the tower was designed to hover over an existing loading dock and service road. Early in the design process, the project team faced a major constraint: connecting the 12-foot floor height of the existing 1959 hospital with the new Montlake Tower building. The decision was made to connect to the floors of the existing hospital at the previous 12 foot floor-to-floor height rather than build the addition at a typical modern floor height of 15 to 18 feet.

To maintain existing heights, the design team converted the entire third floor and penthouse to mechanical space, and aligned all the other floors to the existing hospital. The third floor serves the needs of levels 1 through 5, and the penthouse serves levels 6 through 8. The number of vertical shafts to support the imaging and operating room suites on the second floor and the patient floors above were increased, reducing overhead duct depth and maximizing the ceiling height on each level.

In addition to providing seamless connections to the Muilenberg and Pacific Towers, the project includes a direct link between inpatient areas and surgery suites. The tower contains 47 bed neonatal intensive care units that are comprised primarily of private rooms and a 30-bed oncology unit designed to transplant protocols. Also, the project includes 2 MRI's (with 2 MRI shell spaces) 4 CT (with 1 CT shell space) and 4 Angiography units (with 1 additional Angiography shell space).

The Montlake Tower is also highly sustainable. Energy strategies—including heat-recovery chillers, the reorientation of patient rooms with solar shading, and the use of LEDs for patient-room lighting—will save the UWMC approximately $550,000 in energy costs annually. The project implements strategies developed in a nationwide research study aimed at reducing energy in hospitals. The study, called Targeting 100, is a partnership between the University of Washington's Integrated Design Lab, NBBJ and other project team members. The strategies developed as part of this study are intended to reduce energy use by over 60% with a minimal capital project investment and significant financial returns.

“ This expansion is critical to ensuring UWMC continues to meet the needs for serving patients in our region. The new facility will improve the patient experience and outcome. ”

Johnese Spisso University of Washington Medical Center Chief Health System Officer


KIRO News, "UW Medical Center gets big new addition,” October 2012
Daily Journal of Commerce, “Tight UW site left nowhere to go but up,” July 2012