HDR Completes Master Plan and New Surgical Tower Design for King Saud Medical City in Riyadh

(October 29, 2013) - A multi-phased development in the capital city of Riyadh, this new hospital complex replaces the oldest medical city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The complex includes the creation of a new trauma center serving the entire region; a first for the medical city.

The master plan includes 1,000 single patient rooms in two new medical towers. The first phase will include a surgical tower above the Diagnostic +Testing (D+I) block with 480 private in-patient rooms designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate a broad range of acuity requirements. A construction contract has been awarded to Riyadh-based AlFouzan Construction and Trading Company.

"The development addresses the challenges of expanding a fully functioning medical city while minimizing the impact of critical operations," says Ahmad Soueid, AIA, HDR's project executive. "It meets world-class standards in care delivery and caters to a new generation of patients and medical professionals."

The entire campus is designed to align with the existing Islamic geometries of the old city, to allow unobstructed patient views, and to maximize shadowing of a new pedestrian green plaza. (All of the buildings of the new city are organized around this central plaza.) Walking paths connect one building to another, and are intentionally always in shade ̶ making the pedestrian connections viable even in summer months. Also, the buildings create enough condensate to water the central green, to fill the reflecting pools, and to feed the waterways and fountains.

Although there are many new towers sprouting up in the Kingdom, the towers of the King Saud Medical City are different. Mohammed Ayoub, AIA, RIBA, associate vice president and lead design principal at HDR, explains: "The metaphor of a vessel in the desert inspired the design, and is particularly poignant on the façade which uses light to create a pattern reminiscent of the sand dunes and estuaries of old Riyadh." On the towers, the patient-room windows are shielded with perforated metal panels that seem to undulate across the facade. As the sun moves throughout the day, it hits the various angles of the sunscreens, causing a continually-changing pattern of light and shadow. The effect is that the building seems to move; a mirage of movement.

The main entrance to the hospital is shadowed by the patient tower above. Perforated metal canopies veil the angled columns, at the lower level, that support the towers above. Shading allows the entrance to be clad almost entirely in glass, establishing a transparent, welcoming, and non-clinical entrance sequence. Walking in, a visitor finds an open, double height atrium. Some waiting areas are located in this open, airy space, with views all around; while others are discreetly screened for privacy. The atrium also provides patient and visitor spaces such as a café connected to the central plaza, retail outlets, and connections to out-patient services. All contribute to a sense of well-being, with much of the ground floor dedicated to non-medical functions.

Dr. Saleh Al-Tamini, CEO of King Saud Medical City says that "…this is truly disruptive innovation and the design solution you had for us was not only unique, it captured our whole vision."