A Look at Hospice of Southern Maine’s New Headquarters
by Nicole Rogers
Hospice of Southern Maine is relied upon by patients, families and the community-at-large for high quality, compassionate end-of-life care. The growing organization sought a new building that balanced a long list of operational requirements and reflected the organization’s hallmark reputation for providing both comfort and extraordinary care while at the same time developing a highly sustainable building aligned with their commitment to the future.
The end result? Housed in a net positive building designed and engineered by SMRT Architects and Engineers, the new Hospice of Southern Maine facility marries a comforting contemporary New England coastal aesthetic with optimal functionality, supporting a highly dedicated staff faced with the often stressful commitment to guiding patients and families through end of life challenges.
Sustainability was at the forefront of SMRT’s design and engineering. The 2030 target baseline for this project type is 16.35 EUI. The Hospice Center came in net positive with a predicted EUI of +/- 10, with the facility producing more energy than it uses. As an additional bonus, the excess power created is sent to Hospice of Southern Maine’s Gosnell Memorial House down the road.
Achieving the net positive energy performance level with a projected EUI of +/- 10 included integrating geothermal wells, active solar energy collection, and LED lights throughout, as well as more standard building envelope, orientation, and glazing considerations.
The new Home Hospice Center brings together four houses to support workplace and clinical teams, training for simulations, bereavement services, community space and education.
The design of the new Home Hospice Center reflects Maine’s coastal heritage in a contemporary aesthetic. Blending approachable and home-inspired with therapeutic and professional, the design stitches together four gabled peaks to create one unified structure, consolidating staff workspace with community grief counseling services previously housed in separate locations and allowing enhanced collaboration while accommodating privacy needs.
The exterior cladding and colors reflect the warmth and simplicity found in Maine’s coastal traditions, while quilts and weavings with inviting colors and textures intended to soothe and comfort inspire the interior. The abundance of natural light was a top design goal, achieved through large expanses of uninterrupted views of the native landscaping around the entire building perimeter. Supporting the organization’s reputation for innovative care, the open concept design anticipates Hospice’s future adaptation of its care practices, as well as its growth.
The expansive windows offer natural light for all and views to nature, supporting biophilic design and the health and wellness of building occupants while providing soothing inspiration from the surrounding views. Demountable wall systems and flexible furniture support future adaptation. Acoustic solutions were enhanced with the use of custom felt wrapped ceiling panels. The interior design strikes a balance between a soothing and energetic aesthetic to differentiate between public and staff spaces.
Functional, flexible workspace layouts support Hospice’s collaborative, team-oriented approach to its mission of providing in-home care. Thoughtfully programmed adjacencies accommodate a variety of users: traveling staff who return regularly to discuss and plan patient care, grieving families seeking bereavement services, and members of the public seeking information about hospice services or community event space.
Nicole Rogers, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP is a principal and director of architecture at SMRT Architects and Engineers.