Project Category - Remodel/Renovation (completed November 1999)

Facility Contact - Michael Shanahan, Architect, (858) 576-5979

Firm - Children's Hospital and Health Center Facilities Department, (858) 576-5979

Design Team - Tony Figueras, Staff Architect; Michael Kato, Landscape Architect; Kim Emerson, Artist; T.J. Dixon, Artist/Sculptor; Thomas R. Remensperger, PE, President, Sundt Construction

Patient/Bed Capacity - N/A

Total Building Area (sq. ft.) - 9,580

Total Land Area (acres) - N/A

Total Cost - $500,000

Carley's Magical Garden was inspired by a precious little three-year-old who lost her battle with cancer in 1997. The family album doesn't lie-the sparkle in Carley's eyes could light up a room, her impish grin…irresistible. No doubt, there was something special about little Carley…something magical. Fortunately, for cancer patients at Children's Hospital, a little of Carley's magic lives on. Young patients, struggling with the day-to-day anxieties of their disease, can now play, rest and find comforting solitude just outside their rooms in a series of new, art-filled gardens.

Carley's parents Michael and Liz, along with many of the parent support groups involved with Children's Hospital's Hematology-Oncology Unit, raised more than $400,000 in direct and in-kind donations to make these gardens possible. The gardens themselves-“The Garden of Dreams,” “The Buggy Garden” and “The Friendship Garden”-were inspired by the imagination of Carley who, while being treated for leukemia at Children's, would often wander outside her room where she befriended many of the courtyard creatures, including a spider and hummingbirds.

The Garden of Dreams, the largest of the three, contains a rain bird fountain, brightly colored overhead butterflies, a sailboat river and a dedication sculpture of Carley. The Buggy Garden contains a caterpillar bench, a large dragonfly and a small tiled fountain that allows children to play with water. The Friendship Garden has a vine-covered gazebo, and a turtle fountain, along with an interactive playhouse, which encourages children to explore and discover.


Many of the sculptural elements contained in the garden are related to a storybook/compact disk that is distributed to each child admitted to the Hematology-Oncology Unit. The story was written by two of the artists who contributed to the garden and is a lively tale of Carley and her friend, Francisco, who experience many adventurous encounters as they play in the Garden of Dreams.

All of the patient rooms open onto the various gardens. Carefully concealed in each courtyard are exterior electrical outlets tied to emergency electrical systems. This allows the children to access the courtyard, which they might not be able to do otherwise since they are connected to critical medical support equipment.

Children's Hospital firmly believes that, in addition to medicine, the healing environment of Carley's Magical Garden is as every bit as important to the treatment of young patients, as well as to their parents, all of whom face the daily challenge of fighting cancer.