Trish Bongard Godfrey

The New Bridgepoint Hospital - Architecture to Serve People

06 June 2012
Trish Bongard Godfrey

My tour of the new Bridgepoint Hospital and the Don Jail

Renewal for Patient Recovery

My friends Cynthia Webb (Vice President Leadership Gifts) and Catherine Nugent (Senior Redevelopment Officer, Bridgepoint Health Foundation) recently invited me to tour the new Bridgepoint Hospital and the Don Jail, which is part of the Bridgepoint campus redevelopment. The Hospital specializes in complex care and complex rehabilitation, including medical, physical, occupational, and spiritual recovery. My mother-in-law, Mary, had two extended stints at the current facility, and I was eager to see the new buildings and learn about the leading-edge ideas that have gone into the site plan and building design.

You may have seen the new building going up while driving on the Don Valley Parkway or Bayview extension. It is glass with pop-out windows and it overlooks the Don Valley on the east side, Riverdale Park to the North, and Gerrard Street to the South. On the east, there are plans for a magnificent boulevard entrance from Broadview once the old buildings are torn down. The building, designed by top Canadian architects, will be eligible for LEED certification.

I was really impressed by my tour. After we donned hard hats, work boots, and safety glasses, Cynthia shared a video on the overall project and introduced us to the construction project manager, who led the tour. The new building has a patient-experience design priority, with accessibility to, and equity of, solar light as a key feature. It is all about “healing”, and many patient services, such as physical and occupational therapy, will be provided on every floor – limiting the amount of movement a patient must make. There will be common, library, sitting, and dining areas on every floor. Each one- or two-bed room is designed so patients always have an outside view, even when the privacy curtains are drawn around their roommate’s bed.

Ever notice how easy it is to get lost in a hospital? Not here. They have designed each elevator exit area with site lines which immediately orient people as to their location. When we were there, they were testing colours: the pallet looked cheerful and refreshing. Other functional features such as limited elevators in the old building will be replaced with specially designated elevators separated for patients, food, and soiled materials.

I can’t go into all the amazing features, so I encourage you to look at their excellent web site. I want to comment on the Don (Toronto) Jail portion of the tour. Since it is a renovation project, rather than new construction, it was a totally different experience. Connected to the Hospital via a bridge, the Don Jail will be home to some of their administrative offices. I am sure it will be amazing when it is complete, but the space gave me the willies. I am pretty sure there were ghosts, because I got head-to-toe goose bumps the minute I walked into the door of the building. They have been required to maintain the gallows to a certain degree, which I was pleased they didn’t offer to show us. I was completely shocked by the size of the cells, which were windowless 8′ x 3′ cold stone caverns, and when occupied, would have held three inmates in hammocks. Enough said — stay out of jail.