Humber River Hospital

State-of-the-art design centres on better patient care

Humber River Hospital is one of Canada’s largest acute care hospitals, serving a catchment area of over 850,000 in northwest Toronto. The hospital, though long praised for its commitment to patient care, was increasingly constrained by the limitations of its aging physical and technology infrastructure. With an inflexible design, the hospital was unable to fully capitalize on the many recent advances in healthcare delivery proven to improve both operational efficiency and patient outcomes in new facilities.


Opened in late 2015, the new Humber River Hospital incorporates evidence-based design princi-ples to fully integrate clinical, operational and facility planning. The goal was to create a flexible, state-of-the-art ‘Lean, Green, Digital’ facility.

Lean design improves workflow efficiency
Based on the philosophy of form follows function, Humber’s design enhances clinical workflow with technologies promoting efficient use of staff and resources. This facilitates smooth movement of patients, staff and visitors while reducing waiting times. Computer modelling and workflow analysis using the Lean Six Sigma approach increased workflow efficiency and reduced non-value-added tasks in order to maximize caregiver time at the bedside.

Programmatically, this analysis led to the creation of on-stage and off-stage areas inside the facility: on-stage areas for the public; off-stage areas for staff and physician use. Clinic and inpatient areas were designed to ensure, wherever possible, standardized room layouts to minimize confusion when searching for equipment and supplies.  Support spaces, such as medication rooms, soiled utility rooms and clean rooms, are located at the core of each unit to decrease the walking distance to patient care areas.

In order to expedite the healing process, 80% of inpatient beds are in private rooms.  These rooms feature specific zones for patients, caregivers, and hygiene as well as special alcoves for visiting family members. Patients and visitors benefit from expansive windows offering daylight, views of rooftop gardens and outdoor green spaces.

A ‘Portals of Care’ concept, similar to an airport terminal, was used to break down the scale of the building and to create clear and direct routes for patients and visitors.  This concept affords many of the outpatient clinics a distinct entrance and limits the walk to nine metres from the drop-off to the clinic entry. Patients and visitors access all areas of the hospital via the Concourse and Allée, which serve to organize the main floor into manageable Neighbourhoods and link Humber’s ambulatory and inpatient services and programs.

Project Credits
Owner  Humber River Hospital
Developer  Plenary Group Canada Ltd.
Architect  HDR
Structural Engineer  Halsall Associates / WSP
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer  Smith and Andersen Consulting Engineering
Civil Engineer  AM Candaras Associates Inc.
Landscape Architect  John Quinn and Associates
General Contractor  PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
Commissioning Agent  MMM Group / WSP
Photos  HDR

Project Performance
Energy Use Iintensity = 145 kBtu/sf/year, currently commissioning to bring down to target of 115
Reduction in potable water consumption relative to reference building = 33%
Construction materials diverted from landfill = 75%

View Dynamic Glass used in the patient rooms is a new generation of digitally connected, architectural glass that intelligently tints to control glare and heat, while eliminating blinds and maximizing natural light.

Jerry J. Jeter, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, LEED AP BD+C is a Vice President and Healthcare Principal with HDR Architecture, Inc. and Project Principal for the Humber River Hosptial.

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