St. Joseph’s Hospital

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  • View of tower showing base building. View of tower showing base building.
  • Detail of tower support columns. Detail of tower support columns.
  • Sectional view of floor arrangements. Sectional view of floor arrangements.
  • Typical bedtower floorplan. Typical bedtower floorplan.

St. Joseph's Hospital in Tacoma Washington, is an eye-catching and extremely complex design. The three-dimensionally curved column capitals and the undulating shell surface could have been costly and troublesome. And Tacoma is in a seismic area. But things went smoothly because reinforced concrete was the material of choice.- from Concrete Reinforcing Steel advertisement

This was the first of Goldberg's hospital designs to employ the advantages of a "shell" wall construction. Built above the two-story support building, each floor of the nine-story bed tower was divided into four quadrants for patients. The 260-bed facility was the first hospital where BGA implemented their growing understanding of the needs and workings of the medical community. Within each quadrant were patient "villages" of ten beds each, clustered around a nursing station. The village system ensured that no nurse would be out of a five-foot reach of any patient. There were four villages on each floor.

Made of reinforced concrete, the earthquake resistant structure was supported by flared concrete columns, which served as a "soft zone" to absorb seismic shock. The shell walls of concrete took the vertical load from the upper reinforced concrete floor slabs and there were no interior columns. The concrete was finished with a white colored fiberglass giving the building a highly finished and glossy look.