When The Children's Hospital of Birmingham, Alabama, reached its physical capacity, expansion was the only solution. The hospital, situated at the confluence of two hospital campuses and the industrial edge of the city, purchased all properties on the city block to the north to allow for growth of its teaching, research and outreach missions. Children's Harbor Family Center/Children's Research & Innovation was envisioned as an appealing and accommodating multifunctional facility.

PROJECT CATEGORY New Construction (completed June 2001)

CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR Michael McDevitt, Senior Vice-President/Chief Technology Officer, (205) 939-9892

FIRM Giattina Fisher Aycock Architects, Inc., (205) 933-9060

PHOTOGRAPHY © John O'Hagan

BED CAPACITY N/A

TOTAL BUILDING AREA (SQ. FT.) 105,000

TOTAL LAND AREA (ACRES) 1

TOTAL COST Not released

A typical research laboratory module was developed early in the design process. Using this module, a structural grid was established to determine an efficient laboratory layout and to minimize the intrusion of columns. The lab configuration also influenced the building's massing, the layout of its circulation and public spaces, and the arrangement of the fenestration. The laboratories and animal services space are located on the lower to floors of the facility, convenient and accessible to hospital physicians, but less visible to the public.

The third level houses the social service foundation, which assists families of chronically ill children. The fourth level houses research space. Four meeting rooms, which can be opened to hold up to 250 people in a seated dinner format, and teaching space are located on the top floor.

The building's interior and exterior have a nautical character that reinforces the children's harbor theme. A pedestrian bridge at the third floor links the building to the main hospital and is an extension of the primary public circulation corridor connecting the main hospital lobby, elevators and visitor parking deck. The Family center is located on this level for easy visitor access.

A kinetic sculpture in the three-story lobby sets a playful tone. The pixilated blues and greens of the lobby floor simulate an ocean map; the floor features at its center a stainless steel compass pointing north. The Family center's porthole windows, undulating tile wall, hanging fish and nautical antiques reinforce this calming environment. As seen from the pedestrian bridge, the building exterior resembles the prow of a ship, with green copper cladding and stainless steel railings around the terrace on the top floor.

Aesthetically, the building's materials link the architectural language of the existing hospital with more recent campus buildings. This new building will also dictate future development, and it is designed for a horizontal northern expansion to connect the hospital to the employee parking deck. The building metaphorically links the present image of the hospital to its future: an outstanding children's hospital and cutting-edge research facility


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