Building Hope, Part 5: Meet the people behind the design

More heads are better than one—especially when it comes to designing Seattle Children’s new expansion, Building Hope. Children’s brought together a unique advisory board made up of patients, families and hospital staff to provide feedback throughout the design process.

With Building Hope, Children’s wanted to create an environment that would support the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of healing. Who better to understand the subtleties of the patient experience than actual patients and their families?

A safe and open forum for ideas

“No idea is a bad idea” was the motto during the design phase of Building Hope, as the hospital worked with its partners, ZGF Architects (ZGF) and Sellen Construction.

The team gathered feedback from patients, families, clinical staff and hospital leadership during the design process, and each person brought a unique point of view. “Rarely do you have the opportunity to vet ideas with patients, clients and the design team at the same time, in the same place,” says Anita Rossen, associate partner, senior healthcare interior designer at ZGF.

Children’s was focused on providing the best healthcare and not settling for the status quo, says David Scalzo, senior vice president and senior project manager at Sellen Construction. “This approach enhanced an open, collaborative environment, allowing us to continue to improve the design with each opinion and thought.”

Meet the advisory board: patients and parents

Patients and families, who may spend weeks or months at Children’s, understand the importance of having a hospital facility that feels more like home. The advisory board’s suggestions came to life in throughout Building Hope, in everything from family lounges to in-room refrigerators. Their input will help make the Building Hope patient experience as comfortable as possible.

Meet Emma, a 20-year-old former patient diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 15. Emma chose to be on the youth advisory board because she wanted to make it easier for future patients to go through cancer treatment.

“I wanted to focus on making the rooms more comfortable and pleasant for patients,” says Emma, who has been in remission for four years. “I tried to make sure the room was focused on the patient, not only to take care of them, but also to keep them informed and entertained.”

To that end, each inpatient room in Building Hope is equipped with “Get Well Town,” an interactive, Internet-equipped TV entertainment system with access movies, games, and personalized care information.

Meet Angie Sutphen, mother of Charlotte (known as “Cha Cha”), a Children’s patient who was diagnosed with a rare progressive neuromuscular disease shortly after birth. For eight years, Cha Cha was in and out of Children’s intensive care unit.

“We spent months and months as an inpatient, so much so that it became our second home,” says Angie. “I wanted to make sure Building Hope would provide quiet spaces for families to conference and process with staff.”

For Angie, being on the advisory board was a way to remember Cha Cha, who passed away in 2010. “Helping to make a more functional and nurturing patient room felt like the best way to honor my daughter,” says Angie.

Meet Cassandra Sage, mother of Kobey, who was taken to Children’s within hours of his premature birth and his diagnosis of VACTERL association, a nonrandom association of birth defects. Over the past 11 years, Kobey has had approximately 20 surgical procedures and has been treated in many of Children’s clinics.

Cassandra remembers how comforting it was to have Kobey receive treatment immediately after he was taken to the hospital’s emergency department. For the new emergency department, Cassandra focused on wait times.

“We wanted children to have an immediate visual assessment from a staff member as they walked through the doors of the ER,” says Cassandra. “To me, the most impressive part of the design process was how everyone on the team wanted to make the stressful experience of being in a pediatric hospital the best it can be.”

Meet the advisory board: leaders and partners

Children’s leadership guided the advisory board and partners at ZGF and Sellen during the design process to ensure patients’ and families’ needs, as well as building objectives, were met.

Meet Todd Johnson, vice president of facilities at Children’s
Johnson led the advisory board to ensure that the needs of patients, families and staff would be incorporated into the facility design.

“It was my privilege to work with a great team with an important mission: to expand and improve care for children and families who need it most,” says Johnson. “The advisory board’s perspective helped shape the spaces that we see in Building Hope—it wouldn’t be the incredible facility it is today without everyone’s unique input.”

Meet Cara Bailey, BA, MBA, vice president, continuous performance improvement at Children’s
A key piece of Bailey’s work was to ensure the integration of advisory board feedback into work processes that better support patients, families, and caregivers.

“It was fascinating to see how each of those viewpoints came together to give us a robust vision of what we wanted and needed in a new facility,” says Bailey. “The guiding principles that emerged have become our way of continually evaluating whether we’re achieving our vision as the project has progressed over the past three years.”

Meet Anita Rossen, associate partner, senior healthcare interior designer at ZGF Architect
Rossen and her team at ZGF collaborated with Children’s and the design team to create a healing environment.

The open design environment and input from patients and families helped identify features that could make the hospital stay more comfortable, says Rossen. “Something as simple as access to ice, the ability to bathe in a bath tub versus a shower, or a space designed for quiet reflection inside the patient unit all are important to comfort,’’ Rossen says. “It provides patients and families the ability to have a sense of creativity and control over the environment in their room.”

Meet David Scalzo, senior vice president and senior project manager at Sellen Construction
Scalzo and his team at Sellen worked closely with Children’s on phasing plans, construction solutions and the budget. Scalzo and his team were able to collaborate with those who have spent long periods of time at Children’s in order to fully understand the key design elements that needed to be incorporated for patients and their families.

“We had a unique opportunity for our team to receive input from the family’s perspective, and integrating their comments into the building design was very rewarding,” says Scalzo.

The design concepts that mattered

In addition to creating a cutting-edge, innovative space, the Building Hope design team focused on patient comfort, safety, care and healing.

Families on the advisory panel said they wanted a sense of normalcy while spending long hours at the hospital. Building Hope provides spaces and features for families to sit and have a meal together or connect with the world outside the walls of the hospital.

“It’s gratifying to see the vision and voice of our patients and families become a reality,” says Bailey. “We’ve learned so much as an organization from this experience that goes far beyond the facility itself.”

The critical care and cancer care inpatient units in Building Hope will open on April 21. The new emergency department will open on Tuesday, April 23.

Additional resources:

For more information on Building Hope, please contact Children’s PR team at 206-987-4500 or at [email protected].