Location: Syracuse, NY
Completed: Summer 2018
Program: Office + Adult Social Daycare
Construction Type: New Construction
Awards: 2018 AIA CNY Award of Merit
The Nascentia Health Headquarters located on Syracuse’s West side is a 47,000-sf building containing office space, a training center and an Adult Social Daycare. The design was inspired by the concept of ‘Biophilia’ which suggests that people are instinctively drawn to natural elements and lifeforms. It is our belief that creating a strong connection to nature through architecture helps foster an improved sense of mental, physical and social wellness, transforming the workspace experience. This vision is reflected at many scales within the design; from the overall approach towards site design and surrounding context down to the selections of finishes and materials. The building is a testament to Nascentia Health’s mission to promote and restore health.
At the scale of the site, the design solution required their existing office building to remain standing and operational until the new office was completed. This challenge led to the development of the L-shaped organizational form which inherently has the ability to establish boundaries and produce overlaps between competing forces simultaneously (urban/nature, dark/light, open/concealed, inside/outside, front/back). To the south, the building features a dark brick veneer façade that addresses the busy street and reinforces the simplicity and scale of the surrounding buildings. By contrast, the footprint of the demolished office building has been transformed into a concealed outdoor courtyard space filled with natural plantings, seating; offering a space for release and relaxation throughout the day. The wood rainscreen acts as an activated ‘wrapper’ guiding visitors from the more urban context along West Genesee through the central two-story lobby before expanding outwards into the lush courtyard where the undulating surfaces of the wood are suspended over the fieldstone base of the first floor. The use of natural materials continues through the interior where wood paneling, vibrant earth tone colors and natural inspired flooring are used to highlight key moments within the building.
To promote collaboration and staff well-being, the building provides a range of spaces for group and individual activities, including: open collaborative spaces, enclosed conference rooms, training rooms and private quiet rooms. These spaces were strategically located for convenient access and are emphasized in terms of their color, materiality and shape. They exist in the interior of the open office space as reverberations of the articulated exterior wood surface and combine full height glazing, wood and colors drawn from nature. The finishes are organized vertically as a representation of the cross section of a lush forest. The patterns and colors chosen begin at ground level as inspirations from, grasses and foliage and rise towards the sky as one moves upward in the building. To balance the need for privacy, the design distributes the various departments throughout the building. Each department contains its own flexible open office area positioned on the exterior to increase access to natural light and views for all staff members.
Drawing from natural elements and themes, the new headquarters for Nascentia Health is evidence that architecture can be transformative, helping to improve the experience and wellness of its users.