A Furniture Layout that Empowers People to Gather or Find Solitude

Hospital lobby

Connector spaces like the atrium at the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital Campus can be challenging to design because of multiple entryways, odd layouts and high ceilings.

Interviews with patients, staff and visitors during the design process revealed that people needed the atrium to function in a variety of ways. Some wanted to gather in intimate family groups. Others wanted to work on their laptop while eating lunch. A few said they needed a place to find solitude for a few minutes.

The Cone Health design team knew the furniture and its arrangement would be essential to meeting these needs. Previously, the atrium had mostly tables and chairs lined up in rows, giving the room a cafeteria-like feeling. For the new space, designers aimed for a welcoming, café aesthetic.

Traffic flow is vitally important in the atrium because it connects buildings on the hospital’s campus and also offers a gift shop and restaurant. Storr Healthcare Environments designers developed multiple furniture arrangements to show different traffic flows.

In order to avoid a feeling of “lined up” furniture, Storr designers recommended round and curved seating from Steelcase, Coalesse and ERG arranged in smaller groupings. Curved bench seats with dividers upholstered in Sunbrella Contract® fabrics give the space a sense of motion, while also creating secluded seating for individuals or small groups.

High tops, communal tables, small round tables, chairs (with and without arms) and banquettes from the same furniture brands accommodate bariatric needs, people who want table access while standing and those looking for focused work time. Smaller furniture pieces allow people to rearrange them to fit their needs.

“It can be an emotional time when visiting a hospital. We wanted to make sure the people that were visiting patients would have a comfortable place to relax, talk or enjoy a bite to eat,” said Rob Cardone, healthcare account executive with Storr. “Since the Atrium has multiple purposes, we wanted people to feel free to move the furniture as they please. We wanted them to have options and, most importantly, feel welcomed. I think everyone involved with the project achieved this goal. The new design adds functionality while providing visitors a nice respite during their visit to Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital.”

Farm tables with USB and power outlets lend a relaxed coffee house look, while providing a space for visitors or staff who need to plug in and work.

In a space where everyone can find their special place, everyone feels welcomed.