A Healing Place
waiting areas that adjoin these windows. The top floor of the Doctors' Office Building is devoted to pediatrics, where some of the glass panels are whimsically infused with translucent odds and ends to hold the attention of young patients; other child-oriented distractions abound, too. And there is enough running-around room to satisfy even a parent of a cystic-fibrosis child, fretting as we always are about what bugs a kid might catch from other patients.
In the remote recesses of the Doctors' Office Building, far from the Medical Center's main entrances (but not from the convenient doorway to the new attached parking garage) is the place's best-kept secret. The glass entryway to the Doctors' Office Building deserves credit as one of the region's best architectural features. [For insight into the author's favorite areas at DHMC, see the video.]
If the architectural aphorism "God is in the details," often attributed to van der Rohe, is correct, then there is something divine about the staircase in this entryway. The subtle curve of the railings constitutes a pleasantly mischievous rebellion against the strict 90- and 45-degree angles that otherwise predominate. They resonate with the curves in a colorful, three-story mobile by Seattle artist Koryn Ralstad that presides over the entrance.
Stairs are hugely important things, and not just for logistical reasons. The power to go from floor to floor using nothing more complicated than one's own legs is the way architecture allows us to rebel against gravity and literally reach new heights. It is thus only logical that everyone who visits the original part of DHMC is drawn to the staircase at the north end of the mall—a striking steel contraption that Judge calls the "get-to- know-you stairway" because of its notorious narrowness. It is impossible for two people to pass without at least one turning sideways. But despite that fact, the stairway is heavily used. The joke among the building's designers, according to Judge, is that "people are using it
The subtle curve of the railings is pleasantly mischievous and resonates with the curves in a colorful, three-story mobile by Seattle artist Koryn Ralstad that presides over the entrance.
wrong" because the designers had assumed that everyone would take the elevators to go up and would use the stairs only to descend.
By contrast, the main stairway in the Doctors' Office Building is expansive and quietly elegant. It's also a testament to Shepley Bulfinch's negotiating talents. These architects know how to charm the cost-cutters. "Can't you get rid of the curves?" was a question that Judge dreaded hearing from the construction manager, who was charged with worrying about the expense that details like curves add to the steel fabrication process. But she was ready with an answer. The curves could go, but only from the