The LEED-Silver (pending) hospital houses a world-class burn treatment unit. Trellis canopies and terra-cotta screening protect burn patients from direct sun exposure while mitigating heat gain but allowing views of the landscape. Drought-resistant native plantings, a marsh-like retention pond, and planned bioswales and healing garden manage 100% rainwater on site. Interstitial mechanical spaces accommodate future changes without disrupting patient care or requiring costly, wasteful renovation. Patient surveys show 90% satisfaction.

Architect(s): RTKL Associates
Project Type: Health Care – Hospital Inpatient
Third-Party Rating: LEED Silver
Project Category: New Construction
Project Site: Previously Developed Land
Completion Date: September 2011
Project Cost: $517 million
Project Size: 750,000 sq. ft.
Location: San Antonio, Texas


This Veterans Affairs project exhibits a strong sensibility to sustainable practice throughout its high-intensity program, comprised of in-patient beds, a national burn center and a surgical research center. The site location is dictated by the presence of a current medical complex in central Texas, which complicates attaining the energy savings that are already difficult to achieve in a major hospital. The architecture, while sympathetic to the existing complex, expands the vocabulary to be inclusive of various shading devices that promote energy savings goals while still allowing for views from and into the hospital. Natural lighting is accepted as a part of the healing process, which is important for occupants of this type of facility. The site planning and landscape complement each other as additional aspects of a healing environment. San Antonio is one of the most challenging climates in the United States for cooling and dehumidification, but this project thoughtfully and efficiently conditions the spaces for optimal comfort.


  • Estimated % of occupants using public transit/cycling/walking: 25%
  • Daylighting at levels that allow lights to be off before nightfall: 13%
  • Lighting power density (watts per square-foot): 1.23 watts/sq.ft.
  • Outdoor views: 32%
  • Reduction of regulated potable water: 20%
  • Total EUI (kBtu per square-foot per year): 161
  • Net EUI (kBtu per square-foot per year): 161
  • Percent reduction from National Median EUI for Building Type: 23%

View in the ARCHITECTproject gallery >>