Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Located in the Illinois Medical District on Chicago’s Near West Side, the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center serves more than 62,000 enrolled veterans from Chicago, Cook County, and Northwest Indiana, and receives more than 580,000 inpatient and outpatient visits annually. Completed in 2008, the eight-story center, designed by SOM in collaboration with Ellerbe Becket, adds 240,000 square feet of purpose-built veteran healthcare facilities to the growing medical district.

Serving as one the region’s flagship Veterans Affairs healthcare centers, the Jesse Brown Medical Center mandated significant efficiencies in programming, planning, and design to meet the complex needs of patients, physicians, and the medical center team. The design prioritizes patient and staff experience with an emphasis on daylighting, ease-of-access, and generous, comfortable spaces. The facility centralizes regional inpatient and outpatient Veterans Affairs services, and adds a new mental health unit, a 200-bed tower, and emergency and surgical suites to the district.

Clad in red brick punctuated by horizontal bands of glass, the center’s design complements existing hospital buildings while serving as a distinct point of arrival on the campus. Curving along a newly created cul-de-sac, the building welcomes visitors with a sweeping canopy and a two-story glass-enclosed lobby and vestibule. The center’s facade incorporates sunshades on south-facing windows, mitigating solar gain while allowing daylight to permeate patient rooms and adjacent corridors, while the northern facade minimizes direct sunlight. A green roof provides natural insulation and stormwater retention throughout the year.

Connected to existing buildings through a series of tunnels, pathways, and a new public courtyard, the Jesse Brown Medical Center establishes a new wayfinding method and serves as a nexus for the campus.