Glass for Healing

Healthcare facilities and hospitals look to glass for patient recovery, decorative design, security and more
February 20, 2018
Legacy ER

Designed for Comfort The glass- and metal-clad Legacy ER in Allen, Texas, is a freestanding emergency and urgent care facility designed for patient comfort and wellness. The 8,500-square-foot building features a modern design and simplified interior layout intended to create a calming environment for patients. Natural light, provided through the curtain wall enclosure, further promotes this goal. YKK AP supplied its YCW 750 SSG curtain wall, YCW 750 SplineTech curtain wall and YKK AP 35D entrance door for the project. MetalTech-USA fabricated zinc panels for the exterior. 5G Studio Collaborative was the architect, and Southern Glass & Mirror the contract glazier.  


In recent years, glass has emerged as a critical design element for hospitals and healthcare facilities. Ample glass on the interior and exterior allows natural daylight to penetrate deeper into buildings, promoting patient comfort and accelerating recovery.

“Light impacts outcomes in healthcare settings by reducing depression among patients, decreasing length of stay in hospitals, improving sleep and circadian rhythm, lessening agitation among dementia patients, easing pain and improving adjustment to night-shift work among staff,” according to the Center for Health Design’s The Impact of Light on Outcomes in Healthcare report, which provides a comprehensive look at numerous studies on the effects of daylighting on health. 

According to a 2016 Dodge Data & Analytics report on biophilic design, hospital patients with views of nature saw length of stays fall 8.5 percent, and patients in daylit rooms requested 22 percent less pain medication. 

From glazed façades to interior glass railings and partitions, glass allows architects to meet goals for patient-centric design. And, designers increasingly want more from their glass products for healthcare applications. Designers are pushing the envelope even further by looking for glass in healthcare facilities that also provides elements of decorative design, meets occupant security requirements, offers privacy to patients and more. 

The following glass Idea Book offers a wide range of examples of glass in healthcare facilities, from glass and metal modern exteriors to decorative interior and exterior solutions. For more examples of glass in healthcare facilities, visit 2018.  

Brigham and Women’s Hospital - Building of Transformative Medicine

Decorative DNA A 10-by-38-foot decorative glass installation spans the four-story main stairwell at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital - Building of Transformative Medicine in Boston. The decorative wall consists of 15 individual laminated glass units consisting of two lites of ¼-inch Starphire tempered glass with a .060 custom decorative urethane interlayer. Surface No. 1 and No. 4 are laser engraved with a DNA sequence that starts at the bottom left and spans the wall. Quality Glass Works Inc., Watertown, Connecticut, was the glass fabricator; Vitro Architectural Glass was the glass manufacturer. The project architect was NBBJ and the Cheviot Corporation the contract glazier.

Promedica Health and Wellness Center

High-performance views The three-story, 230,000-square-foot Promedica Health and Wellness Center in Sylvania, Ohio, features two open-air courtyards and a glass atrium that flood the gallery space with natural light and provide visual access to the outdoor environment. Architects from HKS Inc. chose Solarban 72 solar control low-emissivity glass with an ultra-transparent Starphire glass substrate to maximize the effects of that natural light and to provide a calm, healing aesthetic to patients. Vitro Architectural Glass was the glass manufacturer; Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope was the glass fabricator. Toledo Mirror and Glass served as glazing contractor, and VM Systems as the façade contractor. Photo by Jim Cunningham. 

Healing Garden at Kaiser Permanente

Quiet and calm outdoors Patterned glass railings enclose the Healing Garden at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, a peaceful exterior space for hospital patients and visitors. The perimeter guardrail features a blue/green laminated glass that improves the acoustic ambiance of the garden and serves as a windscreen. C.R. Laurence Co. supplied its GRS Taper-Loc and GRS 1202 Glass Gate systems for the project; Trulite fabricated the glass; Giroux Glass was the glazing contractor.  Photo by Carlos Gomez, Giroux Glass.

HealthPartners Neuroscience Center

Light and bright inside BWBR Architects designed the four-story, 130,000–square-foot HealthPartners Neuroscience Center, in St. Paul, Minnesota, to bring as much natural sunlight into the building as possible. Interior glass railings proved essential to achieving this goal, allowing unobstructed views to the outdoors and natural light throughout the main lobby and multi-level parking entranceway. The project features 541 linear feet of Trex Commercial Products’ Dot series glass railing with ½-inch clear tempered glass on staircases ascending multiple levels and on balcony overlooks. Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope was the glass fabricator, and MG McGrath Architectural Glass and Glazing the glazing contractor. 

CapRock Hospital

On-demand privacy Healthcare environments demand privacy solutions for patients. Switchable privacy glass provides a privacy solution that mitigates the infection risk inherent with more traditional window coverings, according to officials from Vistamatic. The company supplied its electronic switchable privacy glass to CapRock Hospital in College Station, Texas. The project features Vistamatic Clarity Smartglass with a liquid crystal interlayer that can switch from an opaque state to clear state with a switch of a button, allowing for both patient privacy and discrete staff observation. PhiloWilke Partnership served as architect, and Austin Glass & Mirror as glazing contractor. 

Army hospital

Protect and perform Protective glazing products allowed architects from RLF Architects, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to meet requirements for patient care and healing, along with fire-rated building codes and Department of Defense Anti-terrorism Standards at a new Army hospital in California. For the exterior, Safti First supplied its GPX Blast System, a two-hour fire-resistive, blast-rated curtain wall. For the interior, the company supplied the SuperLite II-XL 60 and 120 in GPX Architectural Series Framing for the one-hour fire-resistive atrium wall with warm gray spandrel for a decorative effect, and two-hour fire-resistive glazing for the stairwells. The glazing contractor was Sashco Inc.