Project category: New construction & Remodel/Renovation (completed April 2004)

Chief administrator: Jim Dearth, Chief Executive Officer, (205) 939-9896

Firm: Giattina Fisher Aycock Architects, Inc., (205) 933-9060

Design team: Giattina Fisher Aycock Architects, Inc.

Photography: John O'Hagan

Total building area (sq. ft.): 52,600

Construction cost/sq. ft.: Not released

Total cost (excluding land): Not released

The Children's Hospital of Alabama, in Birmingham, like many other children's hospitals across the country, has experienced a dramatic increase in inpatient volume and acuity in recent years. As the only tertiary care hospital in the state, and one of only a few in the Southeast Region, the hospital had a compelling need to expand its inpatient capacity. The eight-story Northwest Addition, which adjoins the existing bed tower, provides 50 new beds and expansion for other hospital services, including emergency and critical care.

Through intensive planning with hospital staff, the design team sought to provide a comforting environment for staff, patients, and families through function, aesthetics, and maintainability. The new beds are organized into 20-bed units on the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors, each having 16 private rooms and a 4-bed close-observation suite.

Complemented by a sculpted nurses’ station and a colorful patterned floor, rich wood walls knit the patient rooms together. Accented by indirect lighting, these radiused walls create warmth and comfort throughout. The playful rhythm of the undulating corridor walls wraps into the patient rooms, encompasses a bath, closet, and sink alcove, and transforms into the headwall. Highly durable materials, such as phenolic-core wall panels, reduce maintenance. Rubber flooring provides comfort for the staff and reduces noise within the unit.

The patient rooms provide ample space around the bed for medical staff and family. A multipurpose, wall-mounted rail system allows attachment of monitoring, charting, and other medical equipment. A hand-washing station is provided near the bedside for the staff's convenience. The parent area, located near the exterior window, incorporates a daybed, trundle, and desk with a reading light and data port for the family. Video game ports and television controls are provided at the bedside for the patient's delight.

With circular light coves overhead, the nurses’ station is the focal point of the corridor. The solid-surfaced desk features a free-form, toy-like design with gentle curves and eased edges, inviting patient-staff interaction. The desk includes adjustable work surfaces, tack space, and modular filing components to accommodate the changing needs of the medical staff.

Providing a comforting environment that nurtures well-being, The Children's Hospital of Alabama continues to set a new standard for pediatric healthcare.