Project Category - New Construction (completed June 2001)

Facility Contact - Stephen K. Jones, Senior Vice-President, Operations, (732) 937-8900

Firms - The Hillier Group, (609) 452-8888, in collaboration with Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott, (617) 423-1700

Design Team - Jan L. Bishop, AIA, Principal; Elizabeth Niedzwiecki, AIA, Project Designer; Philip Toussaint, AIA, Project Manager (The Hillier Group); William Mead, Principal; Carlos Melendez, Project Designer (Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott)

Patient/Bed Capacity - 58 beds

Total Building Area (sq. ft.) - 146,000

Total Land Area (acres) - 1.42

Total Cost (excluding land) - $42,000,000


The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital is the first freestanding children's hospital in New Jersey. The new structure consolidates all pediatric programs that were previously scattered throughout the urban medical campus, an affiliate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The project includes new state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment services, same-day surgery, critical care, oncology, and 100 patient beds for adolescent and general pediatric services.


The idea of exploration and discovery is an overall guiding theme throughout the new facility, with the intent to delight and stimulate patients who are both “small” and “big” kids. The hospital's award-winning “Child Life” program also helped set the stage for ensuring that patient and family input was incorporated throughout the design.

The major challenge of the project was to develop an independent image for a world-class, freestanding children's hospital. At the same time, the facility had to function as an integral part of RWJ University Hospital's large urban campus and provide the staff and support services with convenient access to the existing 550-bed acute care hospital. The building is also intended to provide future connections to a Child Health Institute (Research Center), Pediatric Outpatient Center and future Children's Rehabilitation Hospital.

One approaches the new Children's Hospital by way of a nicely scaled urban plaza, bordered by existing buildings on the campus. The main exterior materials include brick, glass and metal panels. The brick was selected to create a connection with the main surrounding campus. The relatively high proportion of glass was used to maximize natural light and to lighten up the overall massing of the building. The metal panel system was used at the mechanical penthouses and for special “add-on” elements.

The new two-story main entrance draws children and their families through sculptured gardens into an uplifting, airy atrium. The main entry is much like a kaleidoscope inside and out, and the ceiling features fiberoptic lighting that mimics the constellations. The terrazzo in the atrium floor features a whimsical pattern and deep, rich colors. A comprehensive resource center and a children's learning lab, along with multiple play areas and classrooms, provide “safe havens” during the child's stay.

An interactive art and exhibit gallery will serve as a comfortable and engaging place where families and children can wait, and as a circulation spine connecting the new facility to the hospital. The art gallery playfully links the exterior and interior through colorful floor patterns and landscaped materials, with views through patterned glazing to a healing garden.

On the third floor, an indoor garden, referred to as a sun court, connects to an exterior patio. Both the public spaces and patient floors were designed to be “child friendly.” Flooded with natural light from oversized windows, the spaces are light and airy. The patient rooms contain a number of amenities and special touches, including beds for parents, comfortable and adequate seating and, if desired, Nintendo.

The new Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital is designed to be highly sensitive to the unique needs of its children and their families, providing a supportive, exciting, educational and interactive environment.