IMAGES | SOURCES | CONTACT
Just as Walt Disney's animation captured the hearts of children around the world, Stanley Beaman & Sears' (SBS') joyful, nature-inspired interiors are captivating pediatric patients at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Both Disney and SBS know kids as well as, if not better, than anyone else in their respective fields. Both promote uplifting messages and both companies are uncompromising in their quest to produce work that inspires a sense of wonder in "children" of all ages.
Perhaps more difficult than Disney's age-targeted films and product designs, interiors for pediatric healthcare must appeal to an audience that spans the 18-year gamut from infancy to early adulthood, says Betsy Beaman, AIA, principal-in-charge, and director of design at SBS. "We don't design for one age group," she explains. "What is interesting to a toddler is not interesting to a teenager." She should know: SBS has observed kids in children's and science museums across the country to determine what technology and visual signals appeal to each different age group.
What's more, Beaman says healthcare interiors must be as calming and therapeutic as they are engaging and distracting. "Parents and children are overwhelmed when they enter a hospital setting," says Robin Kirkman,
associate IIDA and senior designer. "We've been in pediatric healthcare since 1994, and have really tried to incorporate education and entertainment in our interiors to reduce the intimidation of the hospital experience." Nowhere is that mandate more obvious than in the award-winning design for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, for which Kirkman was project manager.
The entertainment highlight of the installation: identical electronic feature walls located in the main lobbies of both the Scottish Rite and Egleston campuses of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta that cleverly underscore the philanthropy of donors while appealing to pediatric patients' predisposition to interactive games and technology-driven learning. "Kids are more sophisticated than ever before," says Beaman. "Because technology is an integral part of their lives today, we brought the familiar high-impact visual and audio experiences they love into the hospital setting."
The custom-designed video aquarium walls contain six interactive buttons, 18 high definition plasma cube displays controlled by eight synchronized Apple computers, and copyrighted IMAX film footage with voiceovers caricaturizing Hope and Will ... the graphic icons of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. For kids, the interactive feature is not just an educational play space, says Kirkman. It is synonymous with comfort, and a relaxing source of diversion from serious physical and emotional needs.
The designers say their research proved that video naturally appeals to children of the technology age who are fluent in computers. But they also found that moving video images of nature will reinforce the idea of health in these youngsters. In fact, SBS found that by exposing pediatric patients to nature, the perception of pain can decrease by as much as 50 percent.
To that point, SBS created a series of eight color palettes (each based on an element of nature), and educational, nature-inspired discovery wall graphics for elevator entrances on each floor or department at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. The color palette and nature theme serve another important design objective, explains Beaman. "What is unique about this project is that we were asked to unify and create a memorable brand for two very large,
expansive campuses for two very large centers that were once competitors and are now owned by one healthcare system," she adds.
The visual integration of the Scottish Rite and the Egleston campuses involved renovation and new construction of more than 1 million square feet. Architects for the $344 million master plan project and renovation were HKS Inc. of Dallas and Atlanta; while SBS was responsible for interiors for a new main lobby, public waiting areas, acute and ambulatory clinical areas, diagnostic and treatment areas, and patient/family support spaces.
"Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is ranked the third best children's hospital in the nation, and is strictly nonprofit," notes Kirkman. "They wanted a design that would express their vision of excellence and reflect their high standard of healthcare. The interiors were designed to promote corporate branding, and also to provide staff and community with an expression of unrivaled healthcare for children of all ages."
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta also benefitted from SBS' extensive color research and design application, and the fact that 80 percent of the firm's work is in healthcare, with a specialty in pediatric healthcare design. The firm's color expertise in relation to healing environments is considered so important that a PowerPoint presentation called "The Healing Power of Color" has been created by SBS designers. "We present to clients and firms like DuPont who want to tap into our designers' brains," explains Beaman.
Interestingly, most pediatric hospitals use primary colors because designers perceive them as youthful, according to Kirkman. "But our research found that red, yellow and blue are really hard on the retinas," says Beaman, "and it is much easier for the eye to see analogous colors." The color palettes at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta are based on this research and additional studies conducted by Kirkman. One such analogous color scheme is the eye-popping mango-fuchsia used in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) at Egleston. The bold hues accelerate heart rate and energize patients upon awakening from surgery.
"We consider the patient population before color selection," says Kirkman. "The sleep center features subdued colors; the day hospital at both locations is the citrus palette; and the entire range of eight palettes is combined in main lobbies and patient-registration areas. Coincidentally, the colors, graphics, and organically-flowing wayfinding paths with correlating ceilings were inspired by colors and forms in a healing garden outside the main entrance at Egleston."
SBS brought this garden inside with visual display walls featuring oversized nature-themed graphics created to brand the services (and elevator lobbies) specific to each floor. For example, children find a giant frog at the entrance to the day surgery center; a vibrant lily on the discovery wall outside the CICU; and a butterfly on yet
another floor ... each inviting patients to discover, learn and observe through nature.
Throughout the modern interiors, soft organic forms contrast the vibrant, saturated colors. Nature is also recalled in a corridor wall of soft-edged metal panels welded together to resemble the scale texture of a reptile, and in a unique donor panel with credits for philanthropists scrolling over a video of flowing water. Curved corridor walls, a recurring theme on each floor, are also innovative. "You can't have a patient corridor that is less than eight feet, so many hospitals consider it wasteful to have anything but two straight walls between a corridor," explains Beaman. "We found that by opening up the corridor so that it is not restricted by the two walls has facilitated wayfinding at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta."
Floor and ceiling nodes, decorative lighting, and sweeping floor patterns were custom designed in carpet,
composite vinyl tiles, and terrazzo to encourage wayfinding and land-marking. In addition, natural woods, stone and acrylic panels embedded with real grass enhance the natural theme. "Every corner you turn reveals some form of interesting graphic or lighting; it's all carefully integrated from flooring to ceiling," says Kirkman.
"While we're most proud of the interactive feature wall, the colors of all the palettes are stunning as you flow through the space," concludes Beaman. Indeed, the design employs an ingenious interplay of color, texture, form and light that is healing, comforting and just Disneyesque enough to provide kids with positive distractions that are both educational and entertaining.
back to top
above: The Discovery Through Nature wall, complete with frog graphics, designates the elevator lobby entrance to day surgery centers at both campuses. Wayfinding graphics are integrated with a citrus color palette. (larger image)
below: The interactive wall in the atrium space at Egleston serves dual purposes: it appeals to children of the information age who play with the video aquarium, while the wood panels provide a backdrop for donor recognition. (larger image) back to top
above: The award-winning video wall is lauded as a new concept in healing environments: research-based nature theme is therapeutic and comforting for children with severe physical and emotional needs. (larger image)
below: Patient registration at Scottish Rite blends all palettes together; a key destination, the registration desk, is
highlighted with an illuminated ceiling cove and orange carpet inset into a custom mix of patterns. (larger image) back to top
above: The floor-to-ceiling iris graphic featured on the nature learning wall in the elevator lobby of the CICU unit at Egleston inspired the vivid mango-fuchsia palette for the entire cardiac floor. (larger image)
below: Mango and fuchsia, chosen for their energizing properties in the CICU, are repeated in poppy graphics behind a custom desk at the nurse's station, in seating, and in vinyl composition tiles. (larger image) back to top
above: The nature theme begins in the parking entrance where a curved, custom-designed metal panel wall resembles the scales of a reptile and leads to the primary greeting desk. (larger image)
below: A Donor recognition panel is flexible and theme driven: names can be added to a scroll superimposed over a video of flowing water. Aqua coves on ceiling and floor circles define key destinations; ceiling lights echo the floor pattern for wayfinding. (larger image) back to top
back to top
back to top
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite & Emory University
1001 Johnson Ferry Rd. NE
Atlanta, GA 30342
Stanley Beaman & Sears
135 Walton St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Betsy Beaman, design principal-in-charge
Kimberly Stanley, programming principal
Robin Kirkman, project team member
Dena Womack, project team member
Dhruti Jakes, project team member
Ina Sherman, furniture selection
Newcomb & Boyd
Jim Roof Creative