Johns Hopkins Helps Give Birth to a Hospital in South America

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rendering courtesy Safdie Architects
rendering courtesy Safdie Architects

Johns Hopkins Medicine has helped thousands of patients deliver babies over the years. Now Hopkins has helped deliver another hospital, too.

Representatives from Johns Hopkins Medicine International consulted on the design of a 400-bed hospital that is being constructed on the outskirts of Cartagena, Colombia, in South America.

Cartagena is well known as an international tourist destination but did not have a medical center for visitors or residents. The hospital is the first phase of a larger community called Serena del Mar, or Serenity of the Ocean in Spanish.

According to Sally MacConnell, Director of Real Estate and Planning for the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, the hospital and surrounding community are being developed by a wealthy family that has owned the land for years.

MacConnell said the landowners asked Hopkins to consult with the team planning the hospital and she and Hopkins Senior Director of Architecture and Planning Michael Iati traveled to Colombia to visit the site and meet with the designers.

The lead architect for the hospital is Moshe Safdie, an internationally recognized designer who first gained attention nearly 50 years ago with his plans for the Habitat 67 housing development in Montreal. Safdie, 77, also designed Coldspring New Town in Baltimore. The Cartagena project is Safdie’s first hospital and his first project in South America.

Because Safdie did not have an extensive background in hospital design, the developers wanted to bring in experts who could provide “peer review” and make sure the hospital meets international standards for patient care, according to Sean Scensor, principal in charge of the project for Safdie Architects.

Rendering courtesy Safdie Architects
Rendering courtesy Safdie Architects

Besides Hopkins , the design team includes an American firm with extensive medical design experience, Tsoi /Kobus & Associates of Cambridge, Mass.; EDSA landscape architects of Florida, and a South American design firm called Condiseno Arquitectos.

The hospital is called Centro Hospitalario Serena del Mar. Safdie’s office this week released new drawings of the final design, which calls for a four-story building with a series of fingers extending toward a lagoon, and open air “healing gardens” in between. Construction of the first phase began last year, and the initial patient rooms will be ready for occupancy in 2017, Scensor said.

rendering courtesy Safdie Architects
rendering courtesy Safdie Architects

Hopkins will not have an ongoing role in owning or operating the hospital, which will be run by the Fundacion Santa Fe de Bogota. In an animated video about the project, Safdie acknowledged Johns Hopkins Medicine International above all others for its role in “planning and design advisory,” listing it right after the landowner, Novus Civitas, and future operator.

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts writes Urban Landscape on Mondays in the Baltimore Fishbowl. He is the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.
Ed Gunts

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