Two and a half years after breaking ground, the $399 million Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital campus was introduced Monday as offering world-class medicine in a serene setting.
Top hospital officials and others provided about 200 guests with an advance look at the new facility during a ceremonial ribbon-cutting in the soaring main entrance area. The official opening to patients is March 3.
The project was described as the largest in the history of Lake Forest and represented a yearslong effort that included input from staff and patients to provide cutting-edge medicine in a "transformative healing environment."
Five interconnected pavilions comprise 499,620 square feet. The campus features 116 acres of open space and 7,000 feet of pedestrian and bike paths. Inside, there are 114 private rooms, 72 outpatient care spaces, 106 clinic examination rooms, 16 emergency room treatment bays and eight operating rooms.
The sleek building is notable for the extensive use of glass -- 90,000 square feet of windows, nearly the size of two football fields. The pavilions are arranged in a crescent shape overlooking a 6-acre pond and waterfall built to hold stormwater and reduce flooding.
"This hospital looks so good, you almost want to get sick to try it out," joked Ed Wehmer, chairman of Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital board of directors.
Hospital President Thomas J. McAfee said the "enormously complicated" project will become a cornerstone in Lake County.
In giving kudos to various parties, McAfee noted the work of world renowned Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects of New Haven, Connecticut.
"You've truly designed what I believe is the most beautiful hospital in the country," he said. "The landscaping was as important as the architectural design and you haven't seen all of it yet."
McAfee said the hospital is committed to keeping 65 percent of the land free of structures and parking lots.
The new hospital replaces the original main facility built in 1942, and is a key part of the revitalization of the 160-acre campus at Deerpath Road and Route 41. Three medical office buildings and a to-be-determined portion of the old hospital will remain.
The hospital was designed to improve flow for patient care and to allow physicians to use the resources of the overall Northwestern health system. Video conferencing for staff and video sharing in the operating rooms are intended to enhance collaboration, for example.
"This building allows us to provide the community with Northwestern medicine, and we couldn't do that in our old facility," said Jeffrey Kopin, chief medical officer. "This is one of the times the form follows the function."
According to a news release, the hospital will offer "cutting-edge treatments and innovative clinical trials within a world class health system."
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare acquired Lake Forest Hospital in 2010.