Project category: New construction & Remodel/Renovation (completed March 2006)

Chief administrator: Tom Hansen, MD, CEO of Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, (206) 987-2000

Firm: HKS, Inc., (214) 969-5599

Design team: Architect, HKS, Inc.; General Contractor, Sellen Construction; Structural Engineer, CoughlinPorterLundeen; Mechanical & Plumbing Engineer, CDi Engineers; Electrical Engineer, Sparling; Landscape Architect, Talley Associates – Laurelhurst Campus

Photography: Ed LaCasse, LaCasse Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 172,000 (new); 80,000 (renovation)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $298 (new); $242 (renovation)

Total construction cost (excluding land): $51,330,529 (new); $19,324,000 (renovation)


At the entry to the Melinda French Gates Ambulatory Care Building at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, a sense of fun and wonder is achieved through the use of architectural form, color, finishes, and art. This all begins at the “whale entry,” where visitors are greeted by a colorful, 28-foot, six-ton, fused-glass mother and baby whale suspended in the building's three-story atrium. The architectural elements of the 180-foot-long atrium space—with the suspended whale, additional artwork depicting the northwest Pacific Ocean, and long skylight—connect the entire expanded hospital and present a strong series of wayfinding devices.

The programmatic objective was to create a facility that optimizes the experience for families, patients, and providers. The design allows for multispecialty collaboration among related clinics. The building is inviting and comforting, and its design leads families and children through the facility. This building was designed integrally with staff, faculty, and patients' families through a defined process whereby more than 350 individuals participated, including neighbors and city officials.


The created environment has reduced stress for families with positive distractions, places of escape, and choices of waiting experiences, including outdoor gardens. Early patient satisfaction surveys have already shown a marked improvement. Families and patients have seen their input realized in this outstanding facility.

The Ambulatory Care Building has already proven to be a success both functionally and aesthetically. Waits for clinic appointments have been reduced from 12 weeks to three weeks, with a goal of one week. Waiting times at patient visits have also decreased dramatically.