The growth of the Children's Center program and steady increase in patient numbers prompted Good Samaritan Hospital to consider building a new freestanding facility. The new building unites the previously dispersed components of the program in 30,000 square feet (net) of program space and 3,500 square feet of outdoor activity areas and gardens. The Children's Center is a comprehensive, family-focused, medically based facility, providing multidisciplinary intervention services to children through adolescents with special healthcare needs. The new Children's Center is located on a highly visible, three-acre site on the hospital campus. The architecture serves as a backdrop to the daily mission of the Children Center's program and responds to the challenge of providing a place for children and families. The Noah's Ark metaphor responds to the hospital's desire for a special place that captures the imagination and spirit of those who visit and work there; the Children's Center was built to invite and protect the most vulnerable and to provide “safe passage” through the most difficult physical and mental challenges. The metaphor of the ark is brought to life through the innovative use of an exposed curved timber structure and ship forms, allowing the building to rest gently on the landscape, with vaulted and light-filled places within. The site was sculpted to form “waves” around the ark, and patterned concrete masonry on the side and rear of the building represents the rock upon which the ark is perched. The building is a highly functional and efficient workplace for staff, and a noninstitutional setting designed to inspire the children and families who use it.

Project category: New construction (completed September 2000)

Chief administrator: Linda Yates, Director, Children's Center, (253) 841-5845, ext. 1600

Firm: Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership, (206) 623-9414

Design team: William J. LaPatra, AIA, Principal, Principal-in-Charge; Erik Mott, Assoc. AIA, Associate Partner, Senior Designer; John L. Mess, AIA, Associate Partner, Project Manager; Jennifer Schroeder, Interior Designer

Photography: © Eckert & Eckert

Total building area (GSF): 43,500

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $186

Total cost (excluding land): $8,600,000