The typical concentrated, heavy use of an emergency department challenged the project team to design a comprehensive interior environment that addressed critical issues, including functionality, maintenance, life cycle of finishes, comfort and long-term aesthetic value. Objectives outlined in the early phase of the project included the need for effective wayfinding, flooring that provided greater comfort for staff and required less maintenance, seating configurations organized in groupings to achieve a sense of privacy and an inviting play area created for children of a wide range of ages. Localized care and staff organization were achieved by dividing the unit into subdepartments and developing themes for each, with relevant wayfinding cues in the flooring inlays, signage and art.

The attractive, slip-resistant tile entry directs visitors to the reception desk. Dropped-ceiling details personalize the reception area and help define seating groups. Carpet in seating and play areas offers comfort and homelike familiarity for visitors.

Interior architectural columns become entry elements to the play area through the application of colorful details, molded elements, decorative lighting and a dynamic sign that welcomes children. A children's art gallery was created using hinged frames that allow frequent changing of patients' and local children's art. A custom-designed “learning zone”—complete with handheld electronic games, a colorful kitchenette and a custom bookrack—is among the thoughtfully developed elements

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Rubber flooring within the unit was selected for its comfort underfoot, acoustic benefits and low maintenance. Accent-colored flooring inlays were creatively used in corridors to provide clear graphic direction. Theme colors were integrated into nurses' stations and exam room signage to further reinforce the wayfinding concepts. Shapes of the sun, stars, planets and clouds incorporated into doorway surrounds, ceiling tiles, signage and flooring capture children's attention in the suite of pediatric exam rooms and the corridor leading to the nurses' station.

Special themes were developed for the Neonatal Intensive Care unit to establish an identity consistent with the specialized care and vision of the unit. The unit is divided into four areas, each identified with a baby animal—an otter, deer, bird or rabbit—depicted in its natural surroundings and familial groupings. A wayfinding plan was developed that also aids staff by its internal organization.

Murano-glass star lights within a circular dropped soffit illuminate primary intersections and provide a cheerful, yet serene, visual break to the long corridors. Custom-designed, wall-mounted display cabinets along the corridors permit staff to exhibit graduated-patient photos, offering visual encouragement to visitors


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Because the main corridor leading to the unit needed to present a comforting experience for visitors and staff, a sand-carved glass mural was designed for the end of the corridor, repeating the themed animal families. This feature adds life and gives hope to those entering the unit. Softly striped wallcovering in distinctive, tranquil colors portrays the ambience of a home nursery and provides a comforting atmosphere for families.

Custom shelves and cornice boards personalize the headwall units for each baby, and the simple upholstered window treatment repeats the graceful design of the headwall cornice board. A custom wallcovering border carried throughout patient rooms encompasses all the themes. Etched glass plaques depict each theme and display room numbers and patients' first names, personalizing each patient room.

At each end of the unit, families find quiet retreat and privacy, yet convenient access to patient rooms and nursing staff.

PROJECT CATEGORY New Construction (completed March 2002)

CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR Ed Dahlberg, President, (208) 381-2113

FIRM Armstrong Planning and Design, (208) 344-3737

DESIGN TEAM Pamela Howard, Design Director (Armstrong Planning and Design); Tom Scofield, Architect (ZGA Architects & Planners); Randy Dinger, Engineer (Power Engineers); Gregg Ostrow, Facility Architect; Stan Brown, Project Manager (St. Luke's Regional Medical Center)

PHOTOGRAPHY Deborah Hardee Photography, 2002

BED CAPACITY 78 (plus 15 future)

TOTAL BUILDING AREA (SQ. FT.) 36,000 finished; 111,130 total

TOTAL LAND AREA (ACRES) 1.01

TOTAL COST (EXCLUDING LAND) $7,000,000