'A hospital within a hospital'

Wednesday 26 Oct 2011

Design team creates medical centre with playful and functional use of colour

An affiliate of the University of Illinois' College of Medicine and home to Children's Hospital of Illinois (CHOI), OSF St Francis Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Illinois Milestone Project is considered a 'hospital within a hospital,' offering the most comprehensive pediatric specialty and sub-specialty services in central Illinois.

The project links buildings of different eras - encouraging a more singular expression and brand. The design conveys the significance of the life of the hospital's patron saint, St Francis of Assisi, while providing an engaging and educational environment for children while also demonstrating medical excellence for all patients and families.

Passing by the exterior of the new facility from Interstate 74 in Peoria, IL, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center can be seen as an abstract composition of coloured children's blocks - a playful nod to the natural creativity and curiosity of children. The exterior design choice was also based roughly on the Milestone logo, which is composed of three squares of red, blue and green.

With its modern design and inspired use of colour, the exterior provides subtle cues that this building is a unique destination for medical distinction and aesthetic brilliance. Entering into the hospital, one is struck by the vibrant, full-spectrum colour palette. Keeping in mind the primary role as a pediatric centre, the design team took into careful consideration the fact that children respond to their environment differently than adults - their eye level is lower, scale of spaces and forms can impact them adversely and the interesting use of clear, vibrant saturations of colour can provide a positive distraction for adventurous minds.

Concurrently, the challenge was also to design for the needs of the adult population. While still colourful, the manner in which colour is applied and the palettes used within adult areas is more sophisticated and restrained.

The inspiration tying these design challenges together was drawn from the prayer of St Francis, The Canticle of the Sun, encouraging the design team to create a framework for the building plan that incorporated variety, colour, as well as a strategy for wayfinding. The result was a world-class hospital infused with a sense of life and vibrancy.

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