Watauga Medical Center and The Avery Health Care System joined forces to build and operate an 89, 000 square foot Critical Access replacement facility. Designed with a “Mountain-Inn” aesthetic, the new 25 bed facility combines two existing acute care hospitals within twenty miles of each other. Public spaces centers on a two-story atrium incorporating stone and natural woods with an impressive view of Grandfather Mountain. The use of natural materials maintains the mountain charm and integrates the building with its environment. The facility was sited to accommodate an attached medical office building, and elementary school, residential developments, day care center, and various support functions.

Designers at Earl Architects incorporated natural sunlight, green plants, aromatherapy and other powerful elements of nature in a deliberate attempt to make the living environment its own unique therapeutic tool.

After reviewing proven outcomes of healing statistics at traditional hospitals using the Planetree Model, administrators at Cannon Memorial and the design team at Earl Architects adopted and implemented Planetree for this project. Planetree is a design philosophy with proven outcomes through evidence-based design research by creating healing spaces that focuses on integrating a variety of environmental elements to create an ambiance that is not only attractive, but has a measurable effect on the health and well-being of those who use the space.


  • Size — 89,000 sq. ft.