Project: UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay Benioff Children’s Hospital | San Francisco CA
Firm: Stantec | San Francisco CA
This project is San Francisco’s only children’s hospital which helps thousands of the Bay Area’s most vulnerable kids. Since it shares an 878,000 sq. ft. building with several other major functions, including cancer and women’s hospitals, it was essential that the design give the children’s hospital and its patients an identity of their own. Many of the children require repeated and lengthy hospital stays, so the child life spaces were of particular importance to us and our client. The problem was that the original program lacked the spaces that kids need to feel like themselves in the face of life-threatening health problems. Working with UCSF, we were able to alter and expand the child life amenities, centralizing them to create a logical arrangement and a sense of destination. We stacked the spaces in a single two story zone, linked by an elevator serving only the patient floors. Along the wide, light-filled hallway with bright, childlike colors are rooms like a classroom, teen lounge and digital arts studio, designed to feel kid-friendly. They look out onto massive roof gardens, which double as rehabilitation spaces and turn frightening experiences into opportunities for play and excitement. We also took every opportunity to inject child life into waiting spaces for vulnerable patients and siblings, including play areas in the surgical waiting space and an art zone in the emergency waiting room. In the end, we made a place where kids can be kids…not just patients.
The use of carpeting was limited due to infection control concerns, so we were extremely strategic in its placement. It was essential that these child life spaces supported the intimacy and comfort that young patients desperately needed. Because young children naturally play on the ground, the effective use of carpet is essential to their enjoyment, safety and well-being. Health is the most important element of any hospital, so the materials we selected were integral to the health of the patients and the sustainability of the building, which ultimately moved the project from a LEED Silver design to LEED Gold Certification. Two major places where the carpeting played a key role were the surgical waiting area and the listening booths. The waiting area houses patients and their families for hours at a time, so we needed to create a comforting space that was less clinical and reduced the often frightening and disorienting sounds of a busy facility. In the listening booths, which are part of the teen lounge, we used beautiful and inviting carpeting to encourage the teens to sit on the floor and use the space as a respite from their health problems. Long hospital stays can be overwhelming for any patient, but particularly for children who are separated from their homes and families. By creating a warm and comforting environment we were able to turn a hospital into a home.