From a small hospital founded in 1925 to today’s regional, multi-facility provider, Willis-Knighton Medical Center has grown by leaps and bounds. In its construction and renovation projects, the hospital endeavors to incorporate building materials that function on several levels: providing durability and sustainability while establishing a healing aesthetic. Personifying this emphasis on functionality, Willis-Knighton’s Keri Elrod does double duty herself, serving as vice president/administrator and airplane pilot for the Shreveport, Louisiana main campus. “We all wear many hats,” Elrod says. “The building materials we select must do the same.” Dallas-based Rees Associates was called in to recommend and source a material for the wall with the right look, performance and environmental attributes.
Willis-Knighton is a firm believer in using wallcoverings to establish a warm, friendly and familial atmosphere in corridors, lobbies, waiting areas and patient rooms. But the renovation of the post-partum and anti-partum patient rooms in the Center for Women’s Health posed particular challenges. “We had a short lead time and needed the wallcoverings quickly,” says Elrod. The hospital also was incorporating green building materials such as variable speed drive mechanical equipment and energy-efficient lighting and sought a sustainable solution for the wall. Wanda Hailey, Rees Senior Associate, notes that both design and durability were of critical importance. “We were looking for something with a totally different look that would appeal to women and project an upscale appearance. We also needed a high-performance wall treatment with enough texture to camouflage scuffing but a smooth enough surface to resist staining.”
Vinyl wallcovering is Willis-Knighton’s choice for high performance and durability, but the hospital questioned whether they could find options to meet their environmental and design goals. The solution presented itself in Second-Look. The innovation was developed by Versa Wallcovering, winning sustainability awards at the Healthcare Facilities Symposium, IIDEX/NeoCon Canada and NeoCon, as well as an Editor’s Choice Award from Architectural Record. With a minimum of 20% recycled content, Second-Look supports LEED criteria. The sustainable wallcoverings also are low-VOC and use water-based inks, water-based adhesives and an antimicrobial agent.
“The original floral wallcovering, installed in the late ’80s, was very outdated,” Elrod said. “We needed something that was timeless and sophisticated to project a warmer, richer atmosphere.” Working with a wide array of recycled selections, Hailey recommended a subtle, color-washed design in soothing, sandy taupe and tan colors with a slight embossed texture. The pattern brings an upscale, tactile quality to the wall and creates a restful ambience. “The wallcovering establishes a hospitality feeling while avoiding anything too busy or institutional in appearance,” Hailey says. Artwork and splashes of color on the valences and sleeper sofa add to the ambiance. “The wallcoverings make a huge difference,” Elrod says. “Nurses who have gone into these rooms every day for years are re-energized and just love the new look.”
The recycled wallcoverings deliver the same performance and durability as standard Versa wallcoverings, with an expectation of a 10+ year lifecycle, at which time Willis-Knighton can recycle them again. The wallcovering also is less labor-intensive than paint, which requires continual touch-up, and lasts under rigorous, around-the-clock usage, Elrod says. “We are so pleased that we are considering Second-Look for the critical care areas of the hospital and other renovations.”