Mount Sinai West medical center in New York wanted to make care more convenient to its patients and families on Manhattan’s Upper West Side while freeing up space for other services at its existing hospital, says Lisa Mazie, chief administrative officer at Mount Sinai West. “The buildout of the Ansonia practice was an opportunity for Mount Sinai West to relocate our primary care and dermatology practices from our 59th Street hospital location to a neighborhood location embedded in the West side,” she says.
But the healthcare organization didn’t choose just any available location for its new clinic; rather, it decided to move into space on the second floor of New York’s 1904 Ansonia building, a landmarked building at 74th Street and Broadway that’s designed in the Beaux-Arts style and features corner turrets, bay windows, and deep light courts on the exterior of the building that help bring light into the interiors.
“Our approach was to marry the state-of-the-art care provided by Mount Sinai Health with the iconic building, creating a contemporary medical space that could only be in that location—a long-time symbol of luxury in New York City, the opposite of a ‘doc-in- a-box’ that could be anywhere,” says Stephen Yablon, principal and founder of Stephen Yablon Architecture (New York), which provided architecture and interior design services on the project.
The project team began work on the Mount Sinai Doctors Ansonia clinic, which opened in fall 2018, by gutting the interior of more than half of the second floor, preserving only the original, landmarked windows. While the process gave them a blank slate, working within a historic building presented challenges, some of which were uncovered after the demolition. For example, the floor structure is terra cotta blocks—quite common for the building’s time period for its fire-resistant properties but tricky to work with in terms of hanging ceilings and creating openings for shafts and penetrations, Yablon says.
The final layout organizes reception in a long space on one side of the clinic with primary care and dermatology clinics along the other side to take advantage of the natural light provided by the building’s light courts. Instead of individual physician offices, Mount Sinai utilizes caregiver niches in the corridors to encourage collaboration and coordination among patient care teams.
Taking inspiration from the building’s original architecture and black-and-white color palette with brass accents, Yablon says the clinic feels “contemporary and restrained while echoing the grand and luxurious past of the building.” For example, the clinic’s long, dramatic reception area is designed to mimic the building’s first floor grand hall that resembles a hotel lobby with reception desks clad in black solid-surface material.
In the end, Mazie says the challenges of working with a historic building were worth the effort. “The Ansonia space has been very well received in the community and has exceeded expectations in expanding Mount Sinai primary care on the West Side of Manhattan,” she says.