Michigan meets Michigan at The Pavilion
Entering one of the most colorful seasons of the year in Michigan, it’s easy to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us. Time outdoors offers benefits from the calming, restorative properties of nature, and outdoor activities foster togetherness and an opportunity to connect with ourselves and others.
It makes sense, then, that the planning team for The Pavilion at U-M Health wanted to capture elements of our state’s natural landscape to feature inside the new adult inpatient facility scheduled to open in November 2025 on Michigan Medicine’s main medical campus.
Designed for the future
Years of careful planning have gone into ensuring that The Pavilion will include care spaces, technology and special features that support the organization’s mission to advance health to serve Michigan and the world. From public and team spaces to inpatient and procedural areas, to programs and services that will care for our growing high acuity patient population, every inch of The Pavilion has been designed with the future of health care in mind.
Key to a restful, healing environment is the design of interior spaces. The goal for The Pavilion: interior spaces that foster healing for patients and families while supporting the wellness of faculty, staff and learners who will care for them.
Three years ago, just prior to the pandemic, Renee Cruse, NCIDQ, the Michigan Medicine Facilities planning and development lead for interior design, led The Pavilion planning team in a visioning exercise in which four different style boards were presented.
“All four boards had a different mood,” said Cruse. “One had a very clear U-M look, with maize and blue, and a hospitality vibe you’d expect at a restaurant or hotel. The second was monochromatic, with soft colors and a greater focus on texture. It had more of a spa feel — very calming, restful and focused on wellness.
“The third board was similar to the Cardiovascular Center color palette with a focus on greenery, and the fourth had a very professional, almost clinical U-M look with a focus on technology and maize and blue,” said Cruse.
The team was asked to look at each style board, write down words to reflect the mood evoked by the elements on the board, and share questions that came to mind about each.
Words like calming and refreshing came up when reviewing the spa-like board, as well as questions about whether the finishes might be hard to maintain. The more clinical U-M board brought to mind strength, experience and technology, but the team worried that look could be too cold.
After evaluating and responding to all four boards, participants told Cruse they wished they could custom create a board because they liked things about each one.
“We brought out the scissors and cut up the images,” Cruse explained. “We put the elements back together in a similar arrangement and, at the end of it, what we saw was a blending of it all.
“There was clearly a U-M feel to it, with a strong desire to incorporate navy blue and a few gold-tone metals. The team liked the warmer wood tones, like you might find in a vacation home somewhere, and they had a strong interest in plants from Michigan,” said Cruse.
A powerful plan
The resulting style board featured colors and finishes that reflect the strength of the Michigan Medicine brand and incorporate the calming aspects of our state’s natural landscapes and beauty. Navy blue, gold, warm wood tones, greenery native to the state, and serene stone all come together in a new interior theme Cruse and the team fondly call “Michigan meets Michigan.”
Linda Larin, M.B.A., FACHE, chief operating officer for the Adult Hospitals at U-M Health and lead on The Pavilion planning team, said there were a couple of specific design elements that were very important to the team.
“We wanted to ensure access to natural light throughout the facility,” said Larin, “and we knew we wanted a fireplace in the main lobby to convey a sense of warmth and community, to make people feel welcome.”
Once the interior theme was established, Cruse worked closely with HOK, the architectural firm designing the building, as well as Michigan Medicine’s Infection Prevention and Epidemiology, Environmental Services and Facilities teams to evaluate proposed finishes.
“We built the interior palette with user participation along the way,” said Cruse. “We showed our teams the finishes we’re using for the building to make sure our assumptions about certain materials were correct, and we’ve done rigorous testing of all the materials and finishes.
“Many of the materials were used in other buildings already, like CVC and C&W,” said Cruse. “We took the best of the lessons learned from many of our new developments and applied them to The Pavilion, while also considering new innovations and opportunities.”
Cruse reports that there is so much support for the new “Michigan meets Michigan” theme that the Facilities Planning & Development team has been asked to take this direction with other projects to create a cohesive brand aesthetic moving forward.
“We are so excited about the interior features at The Pavilion designed to support wellness, belonging and inclusion for our patients, families and care teams,” said Larin. “Renee and the HOK team have done an amazing job of turning our vision into a solid plan for spaces that will create a welcoming, restful and healing environment.”