The design of this hospice facility presents a synthesis of ideas: a first-class healthcare facility that offers all the comforts of home; a sacred space that celebrates life and elevates the importance of death; a community-invested institution that is home to the most private and intense form of grief. This new facility is the first stand-alone inpatient care center for Pathways Hospice, a not-for-profit provider of hospice and palliative care for families. Located in Fort Collins, Colorado on the same site as the organization’s administration center, the new building allows Pathways to provide their quality care in their own healthcare setting for the first time. The facility’s design involved an intensive programming process, including user experience mapping exercises. These exercises analyzed how different users—patients, friends and family members, and staff—moved through the building. Recognizing that the hospice is the last building that patients will ever enter, the design team created a moving sequence of spaces tracing this patient path, from the spacious porte cochere to the double-height hallway with clerestory windows. This strategy extends to the patient rooms, each of which has its own custom finishes while artfully concealing medical gases and other support equipment in custom-designed headwall systems.
The project offers a variety of spaces for use by patients’ families, including a family room, kitchen, café, and a double-height reflection room, which includes a custom stained-glass window with an abstract mountain theme. These spaces provide a warm, comforting environment that masks the facility’s medical functions.
The design draws on the regional context, combining glulam timber and locally-quarried stone to suggest a cozy cottage—with interior and exterior spaces reminiscent of the rustic vernacular familiar to the northern Colorado region. Extensive windows serve to bring natural light into all spaces of the facility.
The project has had a transformational impact on Pathways Hospice, the organization that runs the new facility. With the organization’s full staff on the same site—including administration and counseling departments—the new facility has simplified and strengthened their operations.
The facility has an extensive collection of artwork to strengthen its connection to the local community, including works only by local Colorado artists, including the custom statue in the front courtyard. The site’s gardens, including a landscaped labyrinth, are another key integration with the community, providing a parklike space offering public access.