Mabe: We've tried to “domesticate” the design, in the sense of making it comfortable, with lots of amenities and plenty of windows taking advantage of the views of the site. It offers a real hierarchy of places for people to go during the day-places to socialize and interact with people, and places to be alone for a while when they need quiet time.
Theodore: The child life areas are subdivided so that kids of different ages can be comfortable associating with kids their own age-computer stations and Xbox 360s for the teens and near-teens, and toys and games in the toddler areas. Our rule in general was to make it child-like, not childish-no cartoon characters going out of style in a few years!
Doane: The lobby features a maple plank ceiling; the planks are two-and-three-quarter inches wide and pinned together. This provides noise abatement, especially with the terrazzo floor there, without sacrificing aesthetics. It also met our goal of using natural materials wherever possible.
Mabe: Sitting there is like sitting under a grape arbor or lattice-again, domesticating the design and keeping people's minds off the clinical aspect of things.
Biggerstaff: In our MRI suite we're using the Phillips Ambient system, which allows kids to control the colors, imagery, and music provided as they're undergoing an MRI. Not only is a sense of control important to kids, this can reduce the necessity of sedating them, an important goal for us.
Doane: This was only the company's third installation of this system, and the first in the United States. The idea of reducing sedation was an important motivator. We've provided some flexibility in the emergency department, so that adjacent spaces can be used for conscious sedation during the day but flexed at night to serve the extended treatment phase of a critical care pathway, if necessary.
Biggerstaff: We now have 36 beds occupied and plan to open another 12 in the fall, along with a Level Two pediatric intensive care unit. There are also plans to relocate the Children's Medical Center's eating disorders program from downtown to this facility. The growth of this facility's utilization has been considerable since it opened in August 2008: 25,000 ED visits a year, 4,500 surgeries a year, and an inpatient census close to 30 patients a day. With the initially planned 72 beds rapidly filling up, we do have to plan for the future. To accommodate growth to an eventual 240 beds, we can expand vertically by adding two patient floors, and horizontally, with two more patient tower “fingers.” If there is anything I've learned from this project and subsequent growth, it's that the more flexibility you can build into your plans in terms of space utilization, the better.
Mabe: I've learned that it is a great experience working with a partner willing to push the envelope and use evidence-based design to the fullest. This was one of the most fun and exciting projects I worked on in my 30 years as an architect.
Doane: I've seen the importance of going into a project with an open mind, being ready to take advantage of all the opportunities you can within the budgetary and other constraints we all work with, to find the edge and push the project ahead.