Project category: Project in progress (January 2010)

Chief administrator: Robert Connors, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Children's Hospital, (616) 391-9000

Firm: Jonathan Bailey Associates, (469) 227-3900

Design team: Jonathan Bailey, FAIA, RIBA, Principal, Lead Designer; Sean Kirton, Senior Designer; Catherine Everett, Interior Design; Curtis Qualls, Senior Planner (Jonathan Bailey Associates); Chuck Grossman, Principal, Structural Engineering (Zinser Grossman Structural); Theodore Athanas, PE, Principal (BR+A Chicago)

Total building area (sq. ft.): 415,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $263

Total construction cost (excluding land): $109,000,000


As designers were creating the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital design, childhood nostalgia influenced them. As they sought ways to create a safe medical haven for children, they found memories and experiences from their youth to be their guide. Wanting to mimic the feeling of security and fun that children experience nestled in a home-built tent, they envisioned this facility as a colorful, completely nontraditional, unique environment.


The new pediatric hospital will include 169 beds total: 104 new pediatric beds, 40 NICU beds, and another 25 PICU beds. It will house a new pediatric emergency department and ambulatory care. The 12-story facility is designed to contain three floors of outpatient exam and treatment areas, including Nephrology, Hematology, Oncology, Dialysis, Infusion, Cardiac Diagnostics, Endoscopy/GI, Neurology, Pulmonology, Orthopedics, and Psychiatric/Behavioral Developmental Clinics.

The patient rooms will be thematic and three-dimensional, creating a unique experience in an effort to elude the traditional feelings and fears associated with a hospital stay. Multicolored cast-resin panels will cover the head wall and wrap around onto the ceiling, backlit with LED lights. The patient and family will gain a sense of security by having control of their individual environments, for example by controlling the lighting, during stressful times.


For functional purposes, the wall panels will be retractable to hide electrical and medical gas outlets when not in use. The average patient room has been configured for 370 square feet, one of the largest rooms ever to have been conceptualized for a children's hospital. Each will have large floor-to-ceiling windows, creating picturesque views of the outside and allowing ample daylight into each area. Access to the family areas and patient rooms will be through each floor's centralized reception area. Special attention was paid to patient privacy, dictating that the room directly opposite the access hallway on each floor will never be a patient room.

This project's planning process was the result of a highly interactive method that included participation and comments from more than 100 parents, staff, and physicians. The final accepted design showcases the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital as imagination merging with functionality, creating a vibrant, energized facility that will be a Western Michigan landmark.