Ranked as the number one children's hospital in the United States by U.S. News & World Report and Child magazines' annual rankings, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has experienced unprecedented growth and demand for services with record levels of more than 750,000 outpatient visits and about 20,000 inpatient admissions annually.

What is special about this project and The Children's Hospital is that they are supporting the best—the best clinical, research, and administrative staffs. According to Steven M. Altschuler, MD, the hospital's president and CEO, “Our goal is to seek cures for all childhood illnesses. To accomplish this goal, we must continue to provide the best available healthcare facilities for our dedicated staff.”

Recognized years ago as pioneers in providing family-centered care, The Children's Hospital today is striving to create “the ideal patient experience.” Everything that drives this major construction effort is to create welcoming and healing spaces that reflect the superior level of healthcare provided. Amenities, such as family resource centers, lounges, respite areas, and sleep space, are all vital elements of this project, as are superior clinical and staff support areas.

The nine-story South Tower focuses on inpatient care. As the only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Unit in the multistate area, the expanded ED on the first floor is designed to support 90,000 annual ED visits. Families will experience more streamlined triage services and improved amenities within all family spaces and waiting areas, mainly in the South Atrium.

The third through ninth floors all are inpatient care units and feature large, private universal patient rooms with overnight accommodations for families. This space is designed to encourage the healing process, to enhance patient care, and to support the needs of patients, their families, and the staff. Decentralized nurses' stations and caregiver charting areas are located between patient rooms, increasing visibility and reducing steps.

Project category: Addition (completed October 2004)

Chief administrator: Steven M. Altschuler, MD, President and CEO, (215) 590-1000

Firm: Karlsberger, (614) 461-9500

Design team: John J. Plappert, AIA, ACHA, Project Manager, Design Architect; Robert Schisler, AIA, Project Architect; Susan E. Long, IIDA, Interior Design; Daniel J. Clements III, SEGD, Graphic Design, Wayfinding (Karlsberger); Peter Schubert, AIA, Design Architect, Core and Shell (The Hillier Group; formerly with KPF, the Architect-of-Record)

Photography: ©2004 Gary Knight + Associates, Inc.

Illustration: Courtesy of KPF

Total building area (sq. ft.): 332,000 (new); 40,000 (renovation)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $336 (new and renovation)

Total construction cost (excluding land): $125,000,000 (new and renovation)

On the outside, the South Tower expansion and the existing hospital will be drawn together by the design of the new fa¸ade for the entire hospital, which is currently under way. The design creates a new image for The Children's Hospital, making a visible “statement” within the medical center community. The new fa¸ade will be an all-glass box adjacent to the traditional-masonry environment of the surrounding campus. The white metal and clear glass system will convey openness, light, and accessibility. The fa¸ade will take on a more dramatic character at night, when light in the “sleeve” atrium will make the building glow.