Washington Hospital Center ER One
Washington, D.C.
Washington Hospital Center ER One
Washington, D.C.

Preparedness. It’s a combination of deep insight and extreme foresight. For a hospital, being prepared – not just for today but for the future – is critical. Being ready for the unthinkable is something that must be thought through fully. It is about creating spaces that can save lives.

Project ER One originated at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. to develop dynamically responsive design innovations for preparedness during crisis. Emerging as a prototype model for a Level 1 Trauma Center, an ER One hospital has the flexibility to transform in the event of a catastrophic disaster or terrorist attack to treat mass casualties in a contained and safe environment. Advancing new approaches in medical preparedness for over a decade, Project ER One continues as an enduring pursuit to make hospital and emergency department design better for the future.

Although over a decade has passed since the initial ER One technical report publication was released, the innovations, concepts and thought processes of this leading-edge project continue to influence and affect emergency departments and hospital design today.  During the peak of the Project ER One development, HKS Team ED Leader Dave Vincent stated, “We may, in fact, be forwarding design concepts that are not ready for adoption today but likely will be adopted 10 to 15 years from now.” This statement proved to be true. Technology and design thought have caught up. Design concepts developed by HKS and the Project ER One team are now commonly in use in EDs around the world.


The Vision

The innovative features and concepts of Project ER One serve as a model for the design of future suburban and urban healthcare facilities throughout the United States, beginning at the Washington Hospital Center. The ER One Institute, a continuum of Project ER One, is a government-funded agency studying emergency department design. 


The Design

The design is a transformative, prototypical, all-risk ready model for hospitals and emergency departments for the future. The leading edge Project ER One is the first of its kind in the United States. The $200 million, 500,000-square-foot hospital is designed by HKS to seamlessly function in extraordinary circumstances as well as normal daily operations. The ER One concept focuses on three goals: scalability that conforms to fluctuating patient volumes, medical consequence management to allow continued operations in the midst of unknown events, and threat mitigation to help prevent and mitigate the effects of intentional harm or adverse natural events.