Chicago families have depended on La Rabida Children’s Hospital since 1896. The hospital serves approximately 7,500 patients annually, requiring primary and specialty care addressing complex and challenging medical conditions. It's the only hospital in the country solely dedicated to caring for children with chronic illnesses, disabilities or who have been abused or neglected. These patients typically need rehab care for the majority of their adolescent life and beyond.
Originally constructed in 1893 for The World's Columbian Exposition, the aging facility presented many challenges. La Rabida Children's Hospital selected Project Management Advisors, VOA Associates, and Berglund Construction to complete the renovation and expansion.
The project entailed renovating the existing 12,000-sqft facility and building a new 12,000-sqft addition. Completed in January 2014, the renovated and expanded facility helps La Rabida deliver the most comprehensive medical care, even as patient needs change and medical technologies evolve.
The hospital campus is nestled in one of the most beautiful areas of Chicago with spectacular views of Lake Michigan. La Rabida wanted to bring forth the natural environment as much as possible. The new outpatient center was designed to create an enlivened sense of place by drawing connections between the interior space and outdoor environment.
A beacon-of-light entryway welcomes patients and visitors into the new outpatient center. A progression from the entry level opens onto double height space, revealing sweeping views of Lake Michigan. 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 and 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 — to accommodate the varied ages of children frequenting the outpatient 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 while carrying out the La Rabida brand.
Due to the sensitive nature of the current and future patients, this LEED for Healthcare certified addition to the children’s hospital called for the highest level of Indoor Environmental Quality management. Berglund diligently supervised the protection of materials, jobsite hygiene and air quality throughout the construction process.