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For hospitals too, beauty is in the eye of the beholder

July 8, 2010 |  5:51 pm

Last year, the good folks at Soliant Health – a healthcare staffing firm – took it upon themselves to rank the 20 most beautiful hospitals in the country. The list was subjective, of course, but the judges clearly put some thought into their selections. Check out the Cinderella-castle quality of No. 1 pick Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore; the one-acre rooftop garden at No. 6 St. Louis Children’s Hospital; the lodge motif at No. 10 Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Palmer, Alaska; and the hotel feel of No. 17, Sacred Heart Medical Center in Springfield, Ore.

Greys This year, Soliant asked readers of its blog to nominate and vote for the country’s most beautiful hospitals. More than 10,000 votes were cast, but the 2010 contest winners are decidedly less beautiful.

Take the winner, Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego. This glassy, boxy building was nominated for an onion award in the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s annual Orchids & Onions contest. (Hint: only the orchids are meant as a compliment.) Here’s what an anonymous commenter had to say about the design:

This building is a monstrosity. I have to look at it every day. … There's a big post there holding things up - and blocking the door entryway. The sign is silver type on orange - practically unreadable. It's the ugliest most prominent nightmare of a building, plopped into the most incoherent assemblage of parking, clinics, etc.

Soliant acknowledged that its winner is “not without controversy.” You can click here to take a virtual tour of the hospital and decide for yourself whether it deserves to be called the most beautiful hospital in America.

Coming in a close second was Michigan’s Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. This is another boxy building, but Soliant notes that its food menu is beautiful, with about 3,000 selections that are “99% organic” and “designed to boost patients’ immune systems and keep their spirits high.”

Overall, only two of the hospitals on last year’s list were selected by voters this year – Sacred Heart Medical Center (mentioned above) and Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah.

-- Karen Kaplan

Photo: The fictional Seattle Grace Hospital on "Grey's Anatomy" wasn't on the list of most beautiful hospitals, but L.A.'s Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center -- whose exterior doubles as Seattle Grace -- was No. 2 last year. Credit: Karen Neal/ABC

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