Project category: Remodel/Renovation (completed November 2003)

Chief administrator: Dennis Egan, President and CEO, (519) 749-4300

Firm: Parkin Architects, Ltd., (416) 467-8000

Design team: Robin Snell, Project Architect; Francy Kralik, Interior Designer; Dawn Anderson, Intern, Interior Designer (Parkin Architects, Ltd.); Richard Dixon, Vice-President, Chief Redevelopment Officer; Kevin Wilson, Project Coordinator (Grand River Hospital)


Total building area (sq. ft.): 7,700

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $259 (Canadian)

Total cost (excluding land): $1,995,000 (Canadian)

Parkin Architects, Ltd., began the design of the redeveloped Kitchener site at Grand River Hospital in 1999. The Childbirth and Children's Programs, including a Level Two Special Care Nursery, are key components of the hospital's redevelopment.

The existing Special Care Nursery was undersized and poorly configured to support the level of activity and the concept of family-centered care. The overall design and plan of the Nursery were obsolete and lacked appropriate space for assessments, resuscitation, and family support.

At 7,700 square feet, the new Nursery is designed to accommodate 20 babies at different levels of care. The Nursery suite includes courtesy rooms for moms to stay overnight, care-by-parent rooms to help parents make the transition home with a sick baby, a quiet/multipurpose room, a family lounge, a staff lounge, and support areas for nursing and housekeeping staff.

The main entrance opens directly to the communication station. Baby bays are clustered around the central station, allowing for observation and security. Each baby space is divided into three zones that accommodate the caregiver, baby, and parent. The parent side offers storage for overnight items, a shelf for cards, and a flower tackboard for notes and messages. Each bay is supported by a staff workstation and utility space that incorporates storage for linen, supplies, and a refrigerator for breast milk. A central teaching area is part of the shared amenities where staff can demonstrate bathing techniques and teach care strategies, and moms can simply sit, share stories, and offer support to each other.

The Nursery has a garden theme that portrays a sense of growth, spirit, and well-being. Flowers are scattered throughout—on the floors, walls, glazing, and ceiling. Floor and ceiling patterns highlight Nursery bays and staff-care stations.

The overall colors are soft, with punches of accent colors for contrast. With only one exterior wall of windows, interior screens are used to allow borrowed light throughout the unit. Selected finishes and materials are suited to the high-performance demands of a hospital environment. Within each bay, a variety of light fixtures are used. Recessed ceiling fixtures, spotlights, and wall sconces have separate switches to allow for a variety of different lighting levels for different uses.

Although the space is themed for babies, it offers a comforting atmosphere to parents and families, and it provides a positive work environment where staff can administer their best care. It also has the appropriate space for assessments, resuscitation, and family support.