The unique hospital is nestled in one of the most beautiful areas of Chicago with spectacular views of Lake Michigan to the east and the Jackson Park Harbor to the west. La Rabida is a resource upon which Chicago’s families have depended -- and the world’s kindhearted have supported - since 1896.La Rabida Children’s Hospital serves approximately 7,500 patients annually, requiring primary and specialty care addressing complex and challenging medical conditions. These patients typically are lifers” who will need rehab care for the majority of their adolescent life and beyond.
Having been constructed in 1893 for Chicago World’s Fair Columbian Exposition, the hospital had some challenges with the aging facility. In response they decided to select Project Management Advisors, VOA Associates, and Berglund Construction to complete the expansion.
The project entailed the renovation of an existing 12,000 square foot facility and a new 12,000 square foot addition. Completed in January 2014, the renovated and expanded facility will help La Rabida deliver the most comprehensive medical care to their patients as their needs and medical technologies evolve and change over time.
The design of the Outpatient Center creates an enlivened sense of place with indoor/outdoor connections to the natural environment. The patient or visitor is captured immediately by a beacon of light entryway that welcomes them into the new outpatient clinic. A progression from the entry level opens onto double height space, revealing sweeping views of the lake. A folded blue form “Spine” extends the length of the site, sheltering the entrance and extending over the top of the existing building, embracing the glass box. A rain screen system along the clerestory level of this box offers shade and a “front porch” for the play area/healing garden, an extension of the interior reception area. Great Lakes-based characters in wall and floor finishes and artwork function as way finding guides, creating a sense of delight en route to four clinic “ponds”.
The interior design was driven by La Rabida’s strong brand identity, the unique location of their facility along Lake Michigan and the strength and enthusiasm of the children, families and staff. The space was designed to be whimsical but not juvenile in order to accommodate the varied ages of children frequenting the Out-patient Center. The uplifting design provides a setting where children can be “kids”. An outdoor healing garden provides a place a respite for patients, visitors, and staff away from the clinical environment.
The garden features soft walking surfaces, benches, shade trees, and a dramatic wave fence. This custom fence, which looks like an art piece, functions as a safety element to prevent children from leaving the area; but more importantly caries out the La Rabida brand.