Design awards judges praised the landscaping of the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, and architect Kevin Sullivan explains that “embedded nature” was the central theme of the Award of Excellence-winning project.
“With children's hospitals, there's always something peculiar but interesting attached to it—there's always a theme,” says Sullivan, principal and studio director with Payette architects in Boston.
“But, frankly, we didn't want to do something that was a caricature,” Sullivan says. “We wanted it to look like it's part of a medical complex—and not the oddball quirky thing off to the side.”
The 72-bed hospital is part of a master plan, executed over 10 years, that included a new cancer institute, new parking garage, new main entrance for the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and a new emergency department. With the interior, Sullivan says designers wanted to avoid the “barn and farm cliche” themes seen in many Pennsylvania institutions. Instead, there are interactive positive distractions such as a row of light sticks that change color when touched.
While there is a wing dedicated to minimizing infections among bone-marrow-transplant patients, Sullivan says there is a recognition that patients may live in the building for months, so patient floors are open and allow for interaction among staff, families, patients, “everyone who's part of the community of that floor.”