Colour-changing children's hospital

27 Oct 2011

The next generation of pediatric care

The University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital started with a vision: to create the ideal environment in which to provide and receive children's healthcare. Hospital leaders sought a welcoming, distinctive building that would improve arrival and way-finding and support the institution's research and patient/family-centred care missions.

The new six-storey building immediately engages visitors. Its bright, playful exterior features anodized polychromatic stainless steel panels which change colour depending on viewing angle and lighting conditions, while cobalt ironspot brick ties in with the existing campus. A one-storey glass façade provides a welcoming access point for pedestrians, while underground parking relieves on-street congestion. Extensive landscaping creates a park for patients and pedestrians.

The interior consolidates the pediatric programmes and inpatient units and includes 96 same-handed private inpatient rooms, a sedation/observation unit, a dialysis unit, a pediatric emergency department, expansion of the existing imaging department and surgical suite, a family resource centre and a gift shop.

An interactive, all-ages design theme, 'Passport to Discovery', aids in way-finding and provides opportunities for diversion. Each floor becomes a unique habitat with an animal 'storyteller' from that habitat assigned to each clinical area. The theme is expressed in ceiling and floor patterns, light fixtures, finishes and integrated graphic elements.

Natural light is optimized throughout the building. Patient rooms feature expanses of glass to provide daylight and views, including panes that extend to the floor so small children can see out. Glazed notches bring daylight into the centre of the building, while windows at the south ends of corridors and curtainwall along the southern edge of the central core bring in additional light, and a two-storey grand stair leading from the lobby brings daylight into the underground garage.

The hospital, completed in March 2011, is designed to empower patients and involve families in a child's care.

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