Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date



The obsolescence of a hospital is often caused by factors other than structural deterioration. Usually it is because the hospital is outmoded as an efficient medical facility and expan­sion or remodeling are unfeasible because the hospital is space-locked both exteriorly and interiorly. Or a hospital is some­times closed because the community is unable to financially support it or obtain the necessary medical staff. New more strin­gent code regulations are also making it financially impractical for some hospitals to comply. Another factor for closing a hos­pital can be duplication of services in the same area.

Often, because of these reasons for hospital obsolescence, a community must decide what to do with a structurally sound building. It is the contention of this thesis that in the best interest of the community, the obsolete hospital should be re­cycled and modified to serve a new use.

A national survey of public health departments revealed the many possible re-uses of vacated hospitals; office space, nursing homes, and residential housing were the most frequently reported new use.

An additional investigation of what had happened to hospitals which were existing in New Mexico in 1948 was made and documented with photographs and slides, again reflecting many possible re­uses for obsolete hospitals.

Feasibility studies were made for recycling two hospitals in New Mexico -- St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe and Lea General Hospital in Hobbs.

The study concluded that for recyling St. Vincent Hospital, the best use would be to convert it into a state office building. Additional office space is desperately needed by the state and the new use would contribute to bringing commerce back to the heart of the city. Recycling St Vincent Hospital would cost less than constructing a new office building and would not be

as disruptive to the environment as building a new structure. The hospital is structurally sound, has an abundance of natural light, and is superior to other existing buildings which have been proposed for state purchase. Two problems would have to be resolved -- additional parking space would have to be provided and the potential traffic congestion would have to be alleviated. Possible solutions would be to construct a parking structure and staggering working hours.

The feasibility study for recycling Lea General Hospital concluded that it would best serve as an intermediate care and nursing home facility. Hobbs has now an excessive amount of office space, but, as a survey has demonstrated, the area is in need of additional retirement and nursing home beds. Many existing facilities in the former hospital would be adaptable to the new usage.

Lea General Hospital is in structurally sound condition and the grounds 0f this hospital are exceptionally attractive. It would provide a very human and comfortable environment for the elderly.

Demolition of either of these hospitals would be a waste of valuable resources and recycling these facilities will serve a valuable service to the communities.

Hospitals are very often an important part of the history and identity of a community, and as such, should be preserved as significant ties to the past.

Various architectural styles are reflected in hospital structures, and in some instances the only remaining example of an architectural period in the area.

By recycling hospitals, usually of superior and safer con­struction than the average building, we are conserving valuable resources, establishing ties with the past, and in some cases preserving architecturally and historically significant buildings for the future.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Michel Louis Roger Pillet

Second Committee Member

Edith Ann Cherry

Third Committee Member

Thomas R. Vreeland Jr

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Architecture Commons