Meriter Hospital's new Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) began with a vision of providing the highest quality medical care by meeting each infant's physical, emotional, and developmental needs in an environment that is both technologically advanced and family centered. Through a collaborative process, passionate caregivers, and creative design, this vision has become reality and a benchmark in newborn intensive care for those seeking a differentiated care experience.

That experience begins with a greeting desk that provides concierge services and a sun-filled family room that provides space for the whole family with a lounge area, fireplace, computer access, kitchen, and children's play area.

The infant-care area is arranged with 23 private infant rooms clustered around three nurses' stations. Rooms for twins and triplets address trends in multi-infant premature births.

Each infant room offers families a comfortable and quiet environment with state-of-the-art lighting, temperature controls, and mobile tablet-PC technology. A daybed allows parents to sleep next to their infants in what is known as “kangaroo care.” To prepare for the trip home, an overnight room is provided and designed with all the qualities of home.

The interior design emphasizes hospitality with rounded forms and the warmth of wood. Multiple windows and carefully managed hallway lengths connect patients to their natural surroundings and colorful artwork. Rubber flooring within the unit was selected for its comfort underfoot, acoustic benefits, and low maintenance. Curved, accent colored flooring inlays and associated ceiling soffits were creatively used in corridors to provide clear graphic direction.

Project category: New construction & Remodel/Renovation (completed March 2007)

Chief administrator: James L. Woodward, President & CEO, (608) 267-6000

Firm: Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP, (414) 359-3060

Design team: Michael H. Scherbel, AIA, Project Manager; Mary Spriggs, AIA, Project Architect; Paulette Billington, Associate IIDA, Senior Interior Designer (Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP); Structural Engineering, Arnold & O'Sheridan, Inc.; Electrical, HVAC, and Plumbing Engineering, Henneman Engineering, Inc.; Planning, Smith Hager Bajo, Inc.

Photography: Mike Rebholz Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 3,000 (new); 14,000 (renovation)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $298 (new); $333 (renovation)

Total construction cost (excluding land): $894,000 (new); $4,660,000 (renovation)