HealthPartners Neuroscience Center Sees the Light with Ornamental Glass Railing that Enhances Open Architecture

BWBR Architects designed the 4-story, 130,000–square-foot HealthPartners Neuroscience Center, located in St. Paul, MN, creating a structure that allows as much natural sunlight into the building as possible.

Recent research conducted by The Center for Health Design found extraordinary health benefits tied to natural vs. artificial light and the facility’s owners – a partnership between HealthPartners Specialty Care and Regions Hospital – wanted to capitalize on this benefit.

According to the study, “The Impact of Light on Outcomes in Healthcare Settings,” natural light impacts patients, staff and visitors by “reducing depression among patients, decreasing length of stay in hospitals, improving sleep and circadian rhythm, lessening agitation among dementia patients, easing pain, and improving adjustment to night-shift work among staff.” Researchers also stated that, “Natural light should be incorporated into lighting design in healthcare settings, not only because it is beneficial to patients and staff, but also because it is light delivered at no cost and in a form that most people prefer.”

Dot series glass railing

Indoor Sun

HealthPartners was looking to create a state-of-the-art facility, while keeping patients and caregivers in mind and creating a “calm, comfortable and convenient” atmosphere. They were clear that, with increased awareness around the benefits natural light and outdoor views have on patients, their facility should utilize glass not only as the building façade, but extend that within the interior of the facility, allowing the light and views to be carried throughout. Part of HealthPartners “Intentional Design” was to allow for natural sunlight throughout the building.

Trex Commercial Products was selected to provide its proprietary “Dot Series” glass railing, a perfect fit for the facility’s modern aesthetic and natural light requirements. The Dot series railing system’s most distinguishable feature is its unobtrusive stainless steel circular glass mounts attached to Trex Commercial Products’ stainless steel trapezoidal posts. This combination, when fitted with ½-inch clear, tempered glass, allows for unobstructed outdoor views and plenty of natural light to flow throughout the interior of the facility, complemented by the building’s all-glass façade.

Ironically, the beauty of the Dot series design is that it is meant to be “unseen.” Patients, staff and visitors to the hospital will be surprised to learn this facility features more than 541 linear feet of glass railing ascending multiple levels and balcony overlooks. Even curved staircases have segmented glass panels with attached custom rolled stainless steel handrail to achieve the desired curve on both the overlooks and stair. Stainless steel trapezoidal posts were welded to structural steel stair stringers at the monumental stair and finished with custom escutcheon covers.

1/2″ clear tempered glass allows natural light to flow though multiple levels

Walk in the Park

One of the most stressful moments in a hospital visit for both patients and loved ones is the seemingly long trip from the parking area to the lobby, surgical suite or guest room, so it was important that the natural-light setting extended to the entranceway from the parking area as well. Hence the use of Trex Commercial Products’ ornamental Dot series glass railing featuring half-inch clear tempered glass with polished edges in the transit way.

This sleek, stainless steel post-supported system has a 180 grit straight-line finish and is fascia mounted to precast concrete stairs with rectangular stainless steel baseplates. The glass is secured to the post via through-glass discs, and a stainless steel 1.5-inch handrail with number-four brushed circumferential finish was attached using the Dot series standoff.

Fascia mounted Dot series railing ascends multiple level parking garage entrances

Seeing the Light

Trex Commercial Products’ Dot series glass railing met the needs not only of the architect’s design, but positively influenced the quality of stay for patients, families and caregivers alike.

Trex Commercial Products worked with a great team including: MG McGrath Architectural Glass and Glazing, BWBR Architects, Inc. and Kraus-Anderson Construction Company to complete this facility that will help change the lives of patients, families and caregivers through care, rehab and research for years to come.

View more photos of our work at HealthPartners Neuroscience Center!

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