Project category: Addition (completed December 2006)

Chief administrator: Mark Nantz, Chief Administration Officer, (704) 783-3000

Firm: FreemanWhite, Inc., (704) 523-2230

Design team: Scott Garand, AIA, Architect of Record; Will Bethune, AIA, Project Designer; Doug Stover, PE, Project Electrical Engineer; Martin King, PE, Project Mechanical Engineer (FreemanWhite, Inc.); Paula F. Gornto, ASLA, Landscape Designer (Site Solutions); Douglas G. Fitzpatrick, PE, LEED AP, Project Structural Engineer (Fitzpatrick Engineering Group, PLLC)

Photography: © Tim Buchman Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 27,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $378

Total construction cost (excluding land): $10,200,000

“Although my adrenaline peaks behind the wheel, the smile of a child in need is the fastest way to warm my heart.”—Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion

As a winner of NASCAR's Cup Series, Jeff Gordon knows that healing—just like winning races—is the result of courage, strength, determination, and perseverance. That is why off the track, Jeff seeks to help children and their families gain victories over chronic and often debilitating illnesses. His most recent fundraising collaboration has resulted in the $10.2-million Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital at NorthEast Medical Center, which serves a five-county region centered in Concord, North Carolina (the home of NASCAR).

To apply evidence-based design ideas, hospital leadership toured the nation to view the most progressive children's hospitals. The result was a number of design responses from increasing patient visibility through the decentralized nursing stations to enhancing organizational cuing by pushing beyond the universal room where even the portable objects/products (linens, meds, and nurse servers) within each room had a “universal position.” Among other healthier design elements, special “smart glass” panels replaced traditional privacy curtains to reduce patient infections/disease.

The Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital is comprised of 28 pediatric patient rooms, each with a private bed and bath, TV/DVD, monitoring capabilities, and Internet workstations, as well as space for play, activities, and sleep for family members. There is also a five-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit located within the facility, and an associated 15-bed Level 4 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit available for special needs or premature babies.

Abstracted natural elements provide a calm backdrop for the children, families, and staff. Trees are etched into glass wall panels; land is symbolized via horizontal wooden chair rails; and the night-sky ceiling is embedded with fiber-optic twinkle lights that mimic the curving “movement” of ceiling panels depicting the wind. To complete the setting, carpet patterns are strewn with organic plant shapes.

Adding to the nature theme, four archway frescoes crossing the main corridors are decorated with animals, each with a representative character trait: the impala stands for perseverance, the elephant is for strength, the giraffe is for determination, and the lion is for courage. Just as Jeff Gordon uses these traits to win NASCAR races, healing children can also gain strength from these inspirational animals and words.