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Be Well: An inside look at Cleveland's Global Center for Health Innovation

The atrium at the Global Center for Health Innovation.
The atrium at the Global Center for Health Innovation.

While many in Northeast Ohio aren't used to the name change from "Medical Mart" to "Global Center for Health Innovation," some suggestions include "The Globe," "The Global center," or "The G."

Regardless, the name change - which was made earlier this year - is meant to represent the new role for how this space will be used. Instead of a shopping mart, as the previous name indicated, where people walk in and buy furniture for health care settings. It now feels less like a mall and more like an exclusive place where big health care companies can sponsor and show case products and ideas.

For instance, you're not likely to walk in off the street to see the latest technology that helps a person with physical challenges cook dinner, but it's good for health care companies to see what's available for patients.

Dave Johnson, the public relations director for the convention center and new health center, says the new mission offers a way to bring customers into the city separately from the convention center.

"What's completely changed from what was the original medical mart concept, in that we would bring health care meetings into the convention center which would drive traffic into the medical mart... the whole concept has changed now to where the global center space holders are the ones that are going to bring their customers in. That's what's going to bring economic development from the global center side into Cleveland," Johnson says.

Late last week, workers were installing slick new signs inside the building for the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Philips, Siemens and other big health care companies.

Not many people have had access to the inside of the new global health center, which was paid for by a tax increase initiated back in 2007. Tell us more about what's it like inside?

The outside construction is complete and now they are building out the floors. You know, the convention center is underneath the ground next door and it has these big cavernous rooms that can be turned into showroom floors and meeting areas for thousands. But the global health center is this four-story modern structure above ground.

When you walk in, the atrium is open and you can look up and see each of the floors in layers - it kind of looks like a slices of white cake with showcase floors in between. Each floor of the new center has a theme - such as patients or technology.

There are not events for the public until next year. But today and next week during the Cleveland Clinic Innovation Summit, health care executives will get a first peak of the floors, which are still being built out with equipment displays.

Lots of medical equipment, computers and very specific industry offerings that the public's not going to be allowed to see outside of scheduled public events?

Yes. But my favorite part is something that folks will be able to walk right in and see after February next year: The atrium. At the end of my hour-long tour, I stood there with Johnson and asked him to describe it….

"Think of that open space at the Cleveland Museum of Art and relate that to this space that we're standing in right now, with an entire east wall of glass, it's gorgeous, along with a wide-open 100,000 square foot atrium space, it really feels like an inviting building. You walk in from an architectural standpoint, it feels new, it feels modern, and yet it feels very open and inviting," Johnson says.

There's not really much to do in the atrium, you could walk through to get o the convention center. Or you could do what I would recommend, just stop in and just stand there - take in this wide open and yet peaceful expanse of building.

At the end of my tour, I was walking out the door and ran into County Executive Ed Fitzgerald. He had just left a meeting reviewing plans for the new convention hotel, which is in the works to be built next door.

Fitzgerald was beaming as he explained what the county is asking of the hotel architects.

"How do you figure out a way to design a facility that will be the flagship of this whole complex we've established here and then how do you show that it's a place of innovation but it's also consistent with Cleveland's history and the historical architecture you have here? And I've seen the initial drafts and I think they're getting pretty close," Fitzgerald says.

When is the hotel scheduled to be finished?

Construction, including demolition of the county building is slated for later this year. The hotel is expected to be completed in 2016.