San Francisco–based architecture firm Figure traveled to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to design a hospital gift shop and wellness studio that breaks the monotony populating much of American healthcare design. The client, Hydra Health, serves the Henry Cancer Center at the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center campus. Figure worked with Hydra Health and developer Health Hospitality Partners to realize a space that navigates away from the sterile feeling of many hospital interiors, both materially and figuratively.
The young firm, headed by James Leng and Jennifer Ly, began by visiting a number of hospital gift shops as research. Ly told AN that the experience left them “feeling incredibly overwhelmed by all the stuff crammed in these compact spaces,” not to mention the often hectic environments of hospitals.
On the exterior, the cancer center is shaped by a curving glass entrance with vertical orange stripes. However behind the colorful facade, visitors are enveloped in a soft, neutral palette that is often, and unfortunately, omitted from healthcare spaces. The space is set within a new perimeter wall, which Figure designed to address the existing space’s awkward layout.
Hydra Health’s floorplan sets the gift shop near its entrance, with private spaces accessible through a corridor toward the back. Built-in display shelves and a booth containing a sink and mirror line one side of the front space, while curtain-closed rooms, home to plush benches and tables, line the opposite side. A set of three display tables and a checkout desk fill the space between, warmly lit by a row of hanging lights. Set against custom-fabricated maple millwork with taupe-colored walls, the gift shop feels more akin to a boutique than a healthcare gift shop, with material continuity keeping the space from feeling overcrowded.
In the back, the corridor connects four private rooms that contain couches and a dimmer lighting approach that would feel at home in a massage therapist’s office. Ly said that the team wanted to create “opportunities for rest and contemplation in a soothing environment.”Covering 1,600 square feet, Hydra Health’s new facilities manage to fill a range of needs without feeling packed in. Figure maintains a contiguous palette between spaces, carefully balancing soft and rigid barriers between programs. Avoiding a clinical feel, Figure’s design creates a more comfortable environment for hospital visitors.