Inspired by the purple hills, rolling valleys, and majestic beauty of the Tennessee landscape, the design for The Niswonger Children's Hospital celebrates its natural surroundings. The tertiary care “children's hospital within a hospital” uses the sky, wind, and sun to create an environment that is inviting to children, as well as emotionally, physically, and spiritually supportive of patients, family, and staff.

The limestone-clad exterior of the building exudes an honorable, refined quality symbolic of the services performed within its walls. Adorned with the unique work of artist Ned Kahn, the façade of the building consists of small stainless steel plates suspended from a grid that, when moving freely in the wind, capture the colors of the sky and sunlight, and the movement of the clouds, in their reflection. A rooftop courtyard and multiple outdoor terraces provide peaceful solitude when needed and ideal viewing of the reflecting masterpiece during the day or night.

Project category: Project in progress (January 2009)

Chief administrator: Dennis Vonderfecht, President & CEO, (423) 431-6111

Firm: Karlsberger, (614) 461-9500

Design team: John J. Plappert, AIA, ACHA, Project Director; Paul S. Hinders, AIA, Project Architect; Joseph F. Kuspan, AIA, Architectural Designer; Paul J. Carney, Project Coordinator; Ichiro Kameoka, Project Designer; Amy S. Mays, LEED AP

Total building area (sq. ft.): 82,600 (new); 9,200 (renovation)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $272 (new); $136 (renovation)

Total construction cost (excluding land): $22,500,000 (new); 1,250,000 (renovation)

Inside the building, skylights of dichroic glass shine rainbows of light into the main entrance and lobby area. A three-story glass atrium and window-lined hallways add bountiful light and continue to bring in the splendor of the natural environment.

Resembling interlocking “puzzle pieces,” the building signifies the importance of the interlocking relationship between the hospital and the community. Special attention was given to all of the public areas to encourage community interaction and to create a welcoming atmosphere where the public can relax and enjoy nature's gifts.