In creating a new hospital, our client wanted to develop a world-class facility for pediatric care, focused on the comfort of the family as well as care of the patient. The hospital was to be an environment that differentiated pediatrics—a high-tech yet high-touch environment that is attractive to patients, families, and staff—as “a place where children had been before.” The achievement of that goal is evident when one enters Children's Hospital.

The lobby atrium makes generous use of outdoor light to highlight a park-like setting with a flowing brook, trees, park benches, and streetlights. Each patient room is designed to look like a child's bedroom and takes advantage of natural lighting and landscape views of the city for the comfort of the patient. Medical equipment is hidden behind wood paneling, and computer ports in each room keep the child connected to the outside world.

The new Children's Hospital was expanded from 90,000 square feet to 275,000 square feet, allowing it to meet the immediate and future needs of the organization, as well as supporting its business strategies.

The hospital gained improved flexibility and functional relationships between emergency, surgery, radiology, and the intensive care areas (in all instances, such services were on different floors in the existing hospital). Cost efficiencies and patient focus were also increased by bringing services in-house; contracting for MRI services, for example, was costing the client more than owning the equipment itself.

Enhancing family- and child-centered features also increased client satisfaction. In the previous hospital, children and adults shared the same emergency department, and children were offered “adult” food only, on an “adult” dining schedule. Parents had no facilities for staying overnight or sharing meals with their children, and the facility lacked the amenities of a contemporary children's hospital.

Project category: New construction (completed September 2000)

Chief administrator: Gary Perkins, President & CEO, (402) 955-4107

Firm: HDR, (402) 399-1054

Design team: James B. Hohenstein, AIA, Senior Project Designer; Bernie J. Gehrki, AIA, Project Manager

Photography: Jeffrey Jacobs; Tom Kessler

Total building area (GSF): 275,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $238

Total cost (excluding land): $87,000,000

During construction, it was determined that the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) should remain in the original hospital for proximity to the birthing units. This decision necessitated a bridge to connect the buildings for the purpose of taking children from the NICU to surgery. The bridge's most direct route created a three-story triangular space near the entrance, allowing the establishment of a glass-walled atrium/lobby.

The architect and the owner also realized during construction that the volume of space was too large; the owner suggested adding another floor within. That shelled space became the education area, with a sloped-floor auditorium and two smaller meeting rooms. The atrium was completed and opened with the hospital, and the auditorium—although conceived during construction—was opened only a few months later.