North Metro hospital in Jacksonville stood abandoned for years leaving the community without an emergency room and associated healthcare. Built in the 1960’s, it was tired and rundown, but the location was perfect, and the “bones” seemed strong. In 2019 Unity Health bought the hospital, with the intention of rebranding and renovating the ER and several adjunct spaces. Taggart and ImageWorks were hired to bring the building “back to life” as a high-tech modern facility for the community so desperate for quality care. Jacob Seither was the Project Architect and Meredith Davies Spray, the lead Senior Interior Designer.

In addition to the scope widening, the existing building was in worse shape due to age and lack of maintenance than anyone imagined. Bringing the building “up to code” and working through the unfortunate discovery of hidden sewer issues tested the team’s mettle. “It was a lot more work than the team expected,” said Jacob. Despite the setbacks, Unity Health remained steadfast in its commitment to deliver an exceptional patient experience.

As the interior took shape, there was a sense of excitement. Developing a concept for wayfinding was critical, since it was easy to get lost in the existing building. Taggart introduced natural light and color-coding for the departments and hallways as a means of creating landmarks. This was carried into stairways and outdoors where canopies designate drop off areas and final direction. Rooms where trauma and injuries were treated once resembled caves, but now were well lit, modern, and pleasant. “Even in spaces that might ordinarily be forgotten, we delivered an upgrade,” said Jacob.

Meredith credits Taggart design talent Malia Stauffer and Lucy Beth Owen at ImageWorks with familiarity and knowledge of Unity Health’s brand and standards when providing options for furniture. “I was confident that whatever products they suggested had the quality, durability, and cleanability the client demanded. ImageWorks’ overall healthcare expertise was invaluable.”

The new hospital opened in early 2023. Rick Hare describes the reaction at the Open House. “The community is thrilled. Unity Health puts everything back into our facilities—for the patients, the staff, and our own associates. Seeing all the hard work come to fruition is a source of great satisfaction.”

Looking back, Rick talks about what contributed to the success of this project. “It’s important to have a personal relationship with everyone you do business with. There were more challenges on this one for sure, but we were there for each other. Unity Health, Taggart, ImageWorks…we all had the same goal—a quality project. We trusted each other and acted as good stewards of the investment made in patient care.”
General Contractor: David Paul Builders