Phoenix Children’s Hospital by HKS Architects


Arizona’s Phoenix Children’s Hospital, designed and renovated by HKS Architects, is an 11-story tower facility that is one of the largest pediatric campuses in the country.  The building is part of a larger campus and a part of Phoenix’s community, which was a factor in determining the aesthetics of the new architecture.  The design team was challenged to enhance the campus, improving upon its existing planning and flexibility, and staying true to the facility’s vision of providing children’s care in a comfortable atmosphere.

The overall design concept for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital was to create an oasis that was visually connected to the surrounding landscape, emulating the mountains and desert.  The tower provides stunning views from the patient rooms and many public spaces such as corridors and waiting areas. The planning of the campus is based on a north-south and east-west axis to preserve ease of navigating.  It also includes markers that pave the way to different areas.  This includes color palettes, wall murals and sculptures that guide the way to various facilities also adding an aesthetic and uplifting touch to the atmosphere.

Programmatically, the ambulatory and inpatient functions are located in one tower.  Stacking and grouping of programs within this tower decrease travel distances between various parts of the facility and improves orientation. The aesthetics of the tower reflects a blooming desert flower and is subdivided into three sections.  The façade is punctuated by a sail that bisects the interior of the building and enters into the three story atrium below.   This sail is a beacon that welcomes families into the facilities and is illuminated with bright colors making the interior glow from within.  From the exterior, the facility glows at night to be seen from the community.  A major component of this facility is the visual access that it provides to the outside with vistas provided from patient rooms and public spaces including elevators, play rooms and cafes, waiting areas and corridors.

The mission of the facility is devoted to providing care and comfort for the entire family and not just the patient.  Therefore, HKS Architects took care to provide a comforting environment with lush landscaping, brightly colored and playful sculptures, and indigenous plant life.  Day-lighting is also used to subdue and calm major spaces such as waiting areas, as well as punctuate spaces such as corridors.

The atrium also functions as a light wall, providing an entrance and a stage for visitors.  A rooftop play garden, dining, mediation gardens also provide families with a supportive escape within the facility.  These programs in particular are also used to link the new and existing construction. Patients have private, single-patient rooms with amenities that give the patient control over their environment.  Each room is also provided with sleeper sofas and seating areas so that family members are welcome to provide care in addition to the hospital staff.

In addition to prioritizing patient care, the design team was also acutely aware of the sustainable strategies required to minimize the carbon footprint of the facility.  The tower is designed to respond to the Phoenix sun in order to maximize daylight while minimizing heat gain in order to decrease load on mechanical systems.  Outside, shading is provided in all gathering and relaxation spaces.

Materials were chosen to minimize off-gassing, and maximize recycled and locally produced materials.   Heat recovery and water usage was also analyzed to provide the best environment.  The chosen option produced energy savings of over $750,000 per year with a payback of 4.5 years and water savings of 5,500,000 gallons per year. The facility is also designed with growth and expansion in mind.  Subsequent phases are foreseen on the western side of the facility and then to the east, where original buildings, which have exceeded their life expectancy will be replaced.

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