Articles Tagged with: Sara Ridenour

Grand View Health Expansion Tops Out

Grand View Health celebrated a milestone in the construction of a 190,000 SF expansion in Sellersville, PA. The new six-floor pavilion connects to the existing hospital and will house private patient rooms, technologically advanced operating rooms, and a two-level lobby filled with natural light.

Ballinger provided planning, architecture, engineering, and interior design services for the state-of-the-art facility, designed to prioritize wellness for patients, visitors, and staff. Inspired by its site and the values Grand View Health has upheld since its founding in 1913, the building enables the hospital to expand its clinical services.

Representatives from Grand View Health and the design and construction teams gathered to celebrate the placing of the final steel beam of the structure. The project is scheduled for completion in 2023.

Read more about the topping ceremony here.

Sketch of Grand View Health

Welcome addition

The NewYork-Presbyterian Alexandra Cohen Hospital for Women and Newborns was featured in the August issue of Healthcare Design Magazine. Writer Joann Plockova described its inviting environments for mothers and families.   

Excerpted from Healthcare Design:

As a whole, the NewYork-Presbyterian David H. Koch Center in Manhattan houses three distinct programs: ambulatory care; an integrative health and wellbeing center; and the newest addition, a hospital for women and newborns. Largely constructed following the opening of the first two programs in 2018, the Alexandra Cohen Hospital for Women and Newborns, which opened in August 2020, offers comprehensive care for mother and infant—before, during, and after birth, including specialized prenatal care and neonatal intensive care. However, it wasn’t a planned tenant from the beginning. Rather, the women’s hospital was considered along with the idea of additional ambulatory care to fill the building’s top six floors of shell space. But when neighboring NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center’s Greenberg Pavilion sought to expand capacity for its women and newborn services, the organization looked to those Koch Center floors as a convenient and natural fit for a new women’s hospital. “Relocating to the building across the street allows us to grow the service and provide a physical environment that matches the exceptional patient care,” says Hillary Shaw, vice president of the Alexander Cohen Hospital for Woman and Newborns and the David H. Koch Center in New York.


Spanning 246,500 gross square feet, the new Alexandra Cohen Hospital for Women and Newborns includes ultrasound and antepartum outpatient services on the 12th floor; labor and delivery on the 14th floor; a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with MRI and an operating room on the 15th floor; and three floors dedicated to inpatient postpartum care on floors 16 to 18. Designed to accommodate 7,000 births per year, the hospital, which nearly triples the organization’s previous space for mother and infant care, includes 75 private antepartum and postpartum rooms (up from 68), 60 newborn intensive care beds (up from 50, and including 42 private units), and 16 labor and delivery rooms (up from 11). Clinical spaces include five C-section operating rooms, 20 triage/prep/recovery rooms, eight private antepartum testing rooms, and 15 ultrasound rooms on the 12th floor.

The project was a collaboration between several firms that delivered the earlier Koch Center projects, including HOK (New York) as project architect and Ballinger (Philadelphia), which served as medical architect and healthcare planner; interior design was by HOK with Ballinger.

Similar to the Koch Center’s existing design, the women’s hospital offers an oasis from the urban environment while addressing the specific needs of its patients and families. “[For mothers and their families] it’s an exciting situation to be in, but quite stressful,” says Sara Ridenour, associate principal at Ballinger. To help address that, the project team crafted a clear path to help patients get from start to finish with ease. “We choreographed the experience for all parties via flow mapping,” says Ridenour. After arriving at the drop-off area—designed as a quiet, internal avenue where patients can avoid the stress of a busy city street—patients are greeted in the main lobby of the Koch Center and directed to dedicated elevators that stop only on floors 12 through 18. Notified that a patient is on the way, a staff member will be waiting upon arrival in the sky lobby, located in the corner on each floor and offering views of the city, to escort the patient to either a prep/recovery room for a scheduled C-section or triage. After giving birth, mothers are then transported to the postpartum unit via dedicated elevators within the hospital.

Another connection between the new hospital and the established Koch Center is the continuation of the onstage/offstage operational flow. The building’s L-shaped floor plate provided a natural split to place offstage services, including the staff corridor, on the inside of the L, while public and patient spaces are on the periphery with access to views of New York and plenty of natural light (with the exception of the 12th floor, where the corridor is on the perimeter).

A focus on patient-centered care, including private patient rooms and family support amenities, was among five “Departmental Visions and Goals for Maternity and NICU” outlined for the project by NewYork-Presbyterian, Shaw says. Every patient room has three zones, including a caregiver zone from the entrance to the bed; a patient zone at the headwall; and a family zone, which is typically against the window. “We were very deliberate in moving to a private model,” she says. “Private rooms allow for greater bonding between the new family unit where the mother, partner, and newborn can bond together in the postpartum or NICU rooms. Partners or parents can sleep over and be more involved with the care of their loved ones.”

Ridenour says private areas for family are prioritized, too. “Sometimes family members need respite, too; and reducing stress and providing comfort for mother, baby, and family is part of the project vision,” she says. For example, every floor has a family lounge, which is centrally located near the entrance for easy access, while on the labor and delivery floor, there’s a partner’s lounge that offers a place for retreat when needed. The NICU floor houses a shower, laundry, and a sibling child life room. The postpartum floors include multipurpose education rooms and a family dining room on the 16th floor where families can have a celebration dinner.

Staff spaces in the core include a layered zone of three adjoined areas including a nurses’ station/administrative area, a large team room/ touchdown area, and a smaller dictation room for physicians in the back. These three connected spaces are encased in glass, which allows staff to have access to natural daylight coming in through the patient rooms. A sliding glass door between the spaces allows the team to open up the rooms for larger meetings. “There are levels of privacy and collaboration that we made as flexible as possible,” says Ridenour. Decentralized nurses’ stations are located between every two rooms throughout the hospital and between every room on the NICU floor.

The NICU patient rooms are arranged to operate as distinct neighborhoods, with 12 rooms on the west side that can be divided into one or two neighborhoods and 38 rooms on the east side, which can be organized into two or three neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has a dedicated entry point to eliminate travel through one neighborhood to get to another. In addition, an offstage corridor is provided for staff and supplies to reduce noise levels in the patient area and minimize conflicts with family flow. “I think one thing that’s really great about our NICU is we brought all of the services to the floor, so we don’t have to transport these critically ill babies except for in very unique circumstances,” says Shaw. “By bringing the MRI and operating room to the floor, we’ve really integrated care into one location for the family.”


Although some of the communal spaces, like the multipurpose education rooms and the family dining space, have been “sitting vacant for the time being” due to COVID-19, Shaw says, feedback on the hospitality approach has been positive.

Specifically, patients are appreciative of the privacy, large rooms, art program, an abundant light incorporated throughout—insight that confirms the organization’s decision to fill the shell floors with the women’s hospital was the right one. “[It’s] allowed us to offer the very best care for our patients in a bright and nurturing environment that prioritizes comfort, safety, and privacy,” Shaw says.

Spark Mentorship Match Day

On February 27th, Ballinger volunteers will be paired with 7th grade students participating in Spark in Philadelphia, a non-profit program dedicated to helping middle schoolers achieve successful futures. Through one-on-one mentorships that include 9 weekly sessions at Ballinger, students will develop a project related to their career aspirations. By introducing students to our workplace environment and supporting them in completing a deadline-driven project, Ballinger volunteers are helping equip students with the skills for future success.

The mentorship culminates in Share Your Spark, an event where students and mentors present their projects – anything from working electrical circuits to marketing plans – to their colleagues, friends, families and the community.

Ballinger has supported Spark through donations and volunteerism since 2015, providing individual mentorships for over 25 students as well as hosting Spark Lab workshops for 20+ students each fall and participating in peer-to-peer fundraising. In 2018 Ballinger Associate Principal Sara Ridenour joined Spark’s Advisory Board and Ballinger designer Fränc Luu was recognized with Spark’s Veteran Mentor Award for his commitment to the program. In 2019 the Philadelphia Business Journal recognized Ballinger’s partnership with Spark in their annual Faces of Philanthropy round-up.

Trauma-Informed Design Solutions for Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services

Serving over twenty thousand Philadelphia residents each year, Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services (OHS) is a robust resource to the community. Ballinger was selected to develop conceptual design guidelines to create a more empathetic, trauma-informed OHS intake experience. Intake centers are the first point of contact for families and individuals seeking assistance. From there they can access a variety of  homelessness prevention, diversion, and intake services based on their immediate needs.

The primary goals of the project are to foster a trauma-informed service experience and to promote consistency and efficiency in future renovations of OHS facilities.  Ballinger’s design process included participating in user-group meetings and analyzing data from the Philadelphia Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation (ODDT), activities that align with the City’s “person-centered service framework.”

In collaboration with OHS, the Ballinger team developed guidelines for creating a cohesive environment for the City’s homeless prevention, diversion, and intake services, designed to improve visitor wellbeing, encourage engagement with the OHS system, and prevent re-traumatization. The design effort focused on the Appletree Family Center in downtown Philadelphia, which will serve as a prototype for future intake center renovations.

Built on the tenets of transparency, collaboration and empowerment, the conceptual design guidelines promote a safe and calming environment that also addresses wellness and respite for staff. A palette inspired by the hospitality industry features durable materials, natural textures and muted colors. Ballinger Associate Principal Sara Ridenour, AIA, LEED AP emphasized the impact of the physical environment on our behaviors, “As architects and designers, we recognize that the spaces we occupy influence our attitude and mood. By prioritizing openness, clear wayfinding, and transparency, the design reduces stress and helps participants prepare for each step of the intake process.”

The project was initiated by the PHL Participatory Design Lab, a multidisciplinary and cross-agency team of service designers, policy-makers, and a social scientist. The Lab uses participatory design and evidence-based methods, like service design and social science, to improve City service delivery for and with residents, service partners, City staff, and leadership. The Lab was funded by a Knight Cities Challenge (KCC) award from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and is administered by The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia.

Read more about how Philadelphia is creating trauma-informed service experiences 

Ballinger’s Partnership with Spark Recognized by Philadelphia Business Journal

In recognition of our sustained investment in the work of Spark Philadelphia, Ballinger was selected as one of Philadelphia’s Faces of Philanthropy by the Philadelphia Business Journal. Ballinger Associate Principal Sara Ridenour, AIA, LEED BD+C and Spark Executive Director Deirdre Hake will accept the award at an event on April 11 at the Crystal Tea Room.

Spark is a national non-profit dedicated to helping middle school students achieve successful futures. Spark views the transition from young teens to young adults as an important time to show students what’s possible, especially since middle school is the time in which students risk academic disengagement. Spark Philadelphia has created over 400 transformative mentorships since launching in 2013 as Spark’s first east coast site. Spark Philadelphia currently partners with 4 underserved schools in Philadelphia and 18 company partners, including Ballinger.

Ballinger has supported Spark through donations and volunteerism since 2015, mentoring over 25 students and participating in peer-to-peer fundraising. In 2018 Sara Ridenour joined Spark’s Advisory Board and Ballinger’s Fränc Luu was recognized with Spark’s Veteran Mentor Award for his commitment to the program.

The Faces of Philanthropy award is an endorsement of B::Engaged, Ballinger’s employee-run community service initiative founded in 2015. With a focus on design, B::Engaged is an opportunity for staff members to lend their skills to the surrounding community and gain a broader perspective. The group brings together various volunteer efforts throughout the office, and provides a home for staff members interested in enriching the built and social fabric of our community.

Celebrating Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month and this year’s theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.” To close out the month, we asked Ballinger staff members to share advice and their perspectives as women in architecture, engineering and interior design. We’ll be sharing more thoughts from the remarkable women of Ballinger throughout the year.

Ballinger to Receive Community Design Collaborative Leverage Award

The Community Design Collaborative will honor Ballinger with its 2017 Leverage Award on April 4th at Pennovation Center.

Beth Miller, executive director for the Collaborative, says, “We’re recognizing Ballinger for their enduring partnership with us and the great work they’re doing in Philadelphia. They’ve volunteered through us to help local nonprofits… and encouraged their staff to do everything from digging flower beds on Love Your Park Day to giving high school students hands-on experience with design.”

The Leverage Award recognizes local leaders for their commitment to strengthening neighborhoods through design. As the name suggests, it celebrates the leveraging of sought-after skills of architects and other design professionals to help Philadelphia nonprofits launch life-changing projects in their communities.

The Collaborative has matched Ballinger employees with six nonprofit-led community development ventures. They have already donated over 500 hours of pro bono architectural and engineering assistance that would have otherwise cost $45,000—with more projects in the works. The Collaborative/Ballinger partnership has been significant enough to gain recognition in the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Faces of Philanthropy, which honors strong for-profit/nonprofit partnerships throughout the region.

For example, Ballinger recently worked alongside residents to re-imagine several SEPTA viaduct underpasses as colorful, bright, art-filled spaces that reconnect residents in North Central Philadelphia. Using photos and sketches, they polled over 300 residents about their favorite ideas for the massive viaducts. The imagery behind their designs—porches, beacons, and streams—were drawn from conversations with the North Central community.

“The Collaborative creates a hub where neighborhoods and the design community can work together. It provides a connection to Philadelphia, to see what my community looks like, how people live, and how I participate in that. It’s a great opportunity,” says Ballinger Architectural Designer Bonnie Netel.

Ballinger Principal Terry Steelman will accept the Leverage Award on behalf of the firm at Leverage 2017. The event will be held at the LEED Gold Pennovation Center, for which Ballinger provided MEP and structural engineering. Leverage 2017 will bring over 300 supporters of community design to Pennovation Center, a blend of offices, labs, and production space housed in a former paint manufacturing plant. Like the Collaborative, Pennovation Center is preserving Philadelphia’s authentic, sometimes rough-around-the-edges buildings and spaces and giving them new roles that create jobs and strengthen communities.

UMMC Shock Trauma Achieves LEED Gold

The Shock Trauma Critical Tower at the University of Maryland Medical Center was awarded LEED Gold by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

Ballinger provided planning, architecture, engineering and interior design services for this expansion of the University of Maryland Medical Center. The project increases capacity for the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, and the adjacent emergency and general surgery departments.

The design incorporates sustainable building materials, a high performance envelope and energy efficient building systems that benefit not just this building but the campus as a whole.  Specific strategies include:

  • 100% storm water reclaimed for use in chillers and landscape irrigation
  • Wind turbines for local sourced green power
  • Building materials with 30% recycled content