Project category: Project in progress (January 2008)

Chief administrator: Mel Marks, Chief Executive Officer, (562) 933-8001

Firm: TAYLOR, (949) 574-1325

Design team: Architecture and Interior Design, TAYLOR; Interior Design, Ford Design; Richard DeCarlo, Project Administrator; Mel Marks, Project Champion; Pat Johner, Facilities Manager (Miller Children's Hospital)

Total building area (sq. ft.): 120,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $383

Total construction cost (excluding land): $46,000,000

Creating a “safe haven” for children that combines the most advanced medical care with comfort for patients and family was the design goal for the 120,000-square-foot addition to Miller Children's Hospital. The medical program includes a surgery suite with seven operating rooms, a dedicated pediatric imaging center, an additional 48 neonatal intensive care beds, and 24 general pediatric, private patient rooms.

The new building uses playful and interactive design elements targeted at distracting the patients and making the hospital experience as positive and nonthreatening as possible. Outdoor spaces as well as interior lobbies, circulation areas, and hospitality spaces are all designed to engage the imagination of patients and family members of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.

To begin the design process, a “visioning session” brought together more than 200 community members, physicians, nursing and support staff, patients, and patients' families to provide input on what was important to them in a child's healing environment. Their ideas were discussed, prioritized, and ultimately incorporated into the design features for the project.

As a result, a design for a “Castle for Healing”—a place of refuge and sanctuary, care and comfort, fun, friends, and family—was created. In this “story,” the children will be the heroes of the castle—away from home, facing tests and ordeals. They are each on a journey, often difficult, hopefully through illness into health, and through experience and discovery into knowledge and growth.

The journey starts at the shores of the castle in the first-floor lobby. From there, our heroes may descend by way of an open stair bathed in bubbles into an undersea fantasy world on the lower surgery level, or they may take the elevators to the soothing garden environment of the NICU floor surrounded by its environmentally beneficial green roof, or they may go to the top of the castle where a unique, city-like neighborhood of rooms is alive with a diversity of ages and interests.

This expansion is essential to meeting the community's growing need for pediatric services. Miller Children's Hospital has been providing comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services for children of all ages for more than 30 years and is home to one of the largest Neonatal Intensive Care Units in California.