Project Category - New Construction (completed May 2000)

Facility Contact - Lynn Bergen, Director, Design & Construction, (919) 286-8314

Firm - KMD, (415) 398-5191

Design Team - Mohinder Datta, Principal (KMD); Bhart Soli, Principal (ABKJ, Inc.); Bobby Dale Brown, Project Manager (SSR, Inc.)

Patient/Bed Capacity - N/A

Total Building Area (sq. ft.) - 125,000

Total Land Area (acres) - 2.6

Total Cost (excluding land) - $21,800,000


The Children's Health Center is a five-story addition to Duke University Medical Center. The building established a new and distinct identity with a single point of entry for all pediatric services. This unified Duke's existing pediatric AMBULATORY CARE CENTERs, imaging center and children's day hospital in efficient new facilities, and provided convenient and easy access to the pediatric inpatient programs located in the main hospital building.

The design concept resolved a number of primary project objectives. The client needed a flexible building program and a design that could accommodate a number of futures. Maximization of capital resources through design of modules that could respond to varying needs was also essential. The building organization and separation of dissimilar elements, the incorporation of laboratory building planning techniques and the flexible modularity made it possible to achieve these goals.

The Children's Health Center is made up of three major building components: the Welcome Center, the Clinical Block and the Outdoor Play Garden:

The Welcome Center. The celebratory atrium provides visitors with a single point of entry, visual orientation and an immediate link to all levels, resulting in a simple approach to wayfinding. The center is filled with exhibits and interactive toys. For example, an aquarium with remote control submarines surrounds the glass elevators on the ground floor, and gigantic, jewel-tone, turkey-feather kinetic sculptures flutter in the breeze. Turkey feathers were chosen not only because North Carolina is the largest producer of turkeys, but also because they are hypoallergenic and pose no health risks.

A unique building feature, achieved through shared research between the glass manufacturer and the architectural team, is the laminated glass façade that wraps around the multistory Welcome Center. The glass façade appears opaque during the daylight hours but retains its translucent quality on the interior. This allows the building to blend with its neighboring precast concrete buildings during the day, while allowing therapeutically pleasing natural light to flow into the building at all levels. At night the glass façade seems to come alive, allowing the Welcome Center to be enjoyed not only from the inside but also from the outside.

The Clinical Block. This component is made up of a series of multispecialty modules, uniformly designed to enable various clinics to use the facility at different times of the week, giving Duke University the flexibility they required. The healing environment is continued through shared waiting areas that front the modules and overlook the Welcome Center.

The Outdoor Play Garden. This area is key to reducing the stress of being in a medical setting. The garden presents many opportunities and distractions for patients and visitors alike. It is made up of miniature theme areas, including Gator Garden, Noah's Ark, the Reading Area, Coach K's Court (half-court basketball court) and the Amphitheater.