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ACCESS Award Winner 2014:
Grace Hospital South Parking Lot Expansion and Renovation


Physical Access Renovation - Outdoor / ACCESS AWARDS
September 2014

Presented by the City of Winnipeg's ACCESS Advisory Committee, the ACCESS Awards honour projects that incorporate physical, communication and or wayfinding into built spaces in Winnipeg.

On Wednesday, September 10, 2014, ft3 was awarded the "Physical Access Renovation—Outdoor" award for the Grace Hospital South Parking Lot Expansion and Renovation project.

The parking lot is surrounded by two busy thoroughfares on the west and east, and Sturgeon Park city-owned land to the south. Grace Hospital identified the need for a parking lot expansion in 2012 to address the shortage of parking for the general public and staff on site. The expansion design focused upon three items from both a vehicular and pedestrian perspective: 1) maximizing parking, 2) improving access and safety, and 3) creating intuitive way-finding strategies which would improve users’ experience while at the Grace.

1. Maximizing Parking

As the only location to expand the existing lot was south, many modifications to the existing parking lot were explored to meet the design goals. Working with the existing three (3) entrance/exits gates off of Pearl McGonigal Way, vehicular access was modified to: reorient all main drive aisles along the west-east axis, eliminate one-way traffic aisles and relocate all accessible parking stalls nearest to the barrier-free path of travel.

The expanded portion of the parking lot maximized the amount of stalls (160 new) within the allowable property line footprint at the Grace Hospital while providing a softer edge condition to the adjacent park and improving drainage in the entire lot with the installation of new catch basins. Bringing pedestrians safely through the existing lot to the Grace’s entry proved to be the next challenge.

2. Improving Access and Safety

With the addition of the new Access Winnipeg West facility on the Campus and a main hospital entrance with challenging slopes, moving people from the existing and expanded parking lot to the hospital in a safe and clear manner was key. The design focused on creating three distinct pedestrian corridors, running on the north-south axis, to help people with varying mobility abilities move from point A to point B. In doing so, the existing parking lot layout was modified to accommodate for these visual markers, which included trees, a change in surface treatment, vegetation, surface-painted lines, concrete pads for future benches, safety bollards and emergency call stations. In doing so, there was a loss of overall existing parking stalls, but this was seen to be the right decision in order to meet the overarching design and safety goals.

Firstly, two major pedestrian corridors were created, one in each half of the parking lot, which both direct people through the parking lot via an allée of trees. Due to the constraints of working within an existing stall layout, the corridors begin at Sturgeon Park and meander along a slightly skewed line to reach Pearl McGonigal Way, an internally busy roadway, with buses, taxis and cars moving through. The pedestrian corridor terminates at a paved and slightly-raised crossing complete with solar-powered pedestrian crosswalk flashing beacons on each side of the road. These beacons, along with the allée of trees, signal priority to the pedestrian and promote the slowing of vehicular traffic at predictable locations. Once across the street, pedestrians can circulate up the ramp ways with ease to the main entrance or to the ACCESS facility.

Secondly, the interim pedestrian corridor, located at the centre of the parking lot, was modified from the main corridor design to minimize stall loss. The use of bollards delineates the pathway at grade and also serves as a vertical marker, as further punctuation to the trees. Due to budget constraints, the crossing at Pearl McGonigal Way was improved only by providing para-ramps to accommodate for a barrier-free path up to the hospital entry.

3. Way-finding Strategies

Way-finding strategies on site were refined to a simplistic language, successfully conveyed by use of visual vertical cues. Trees also brought some greenery to a rather large expanse of asphalt, creating a swath of tree canopy in a gestural manner. Using a lean palette of materials in a distinct way created a simple and intuitive pathway for users to navigate through a typically disordered environment.

Looking to the history of the site and its adjacency to the Park, thematic pictogram signage was developed for the overall parking lot to identify “remember where you park” into four (4) zones: Grant’s Old Mill—windmill (yellow), Fish Ladder Fishing Hole - fish (blue), T-33 plane—airplane (orange) and the Tall Grass Prairie - wheat shaft (green). Placed on existing and new light standards (also an overall visual improvement to the site), the larger graphics provide a reference point to the user’s vehicle location. A reminder and directional double-sided sign on the south side of Pearl McGonigal at the two primary pedestrian corridors further complements the cues.

General Comments

Serving as a link between the Grace Hospital and Sturgeon Park, the newly renovated and expanded parking lot provides visitors and staff the opportunity to move between each community amenity in a safer and accessible environment. With very limited green infrastructure on site, the neighbouring park is now properly connected by path and reprioritizes the pedestrian experience both to and from the parking lot.