Ralph Applebaum Associates

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Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Columbus, Ohio

The Nationwide Children’s Hospital is a leading pediatric acute care teaching hospital in Columbus, Ohio. RAA was asked to provide environmental design and graphics for a new 12-story expansion that added 750,000 square feet of clinical space. It now serves over a million patients a year. With a focus on “family centered care,” RAA designed and detailed calming and supportive public space interiors that appeal to children, families, and hospital staff, with graphics inspired by the flora and fauna native to Ohio.

The Aviary, a vibrant gathering space, includes large-scale wooden animals, carved and painted by local heritage woodworkers. These are part of the wayfinding and identity system. It also includes a three-dimensional soundscape of spring rain, wind blowing through treetops, and flocks of birds flying away.

The Magic Forest is designed as a respite area where staff and visitors can relax or escape the stress of illness. It includes tall trees, acorn-shaped park lampposts, large wooden animals, and a three-dimensional soundscape of forest activity. Throughout, these whimsical and enchanting elements interact with an enormous, double-height mural to create a forest-like environment. At night, the Forest changes with subtle media projection — glittering leaves fall from the treetops, constellations form in the night sky, and fireflies weave in and out of the high grasses. Overhead, through the tree canopy, an LED star-scape twinkles.

Educational niches and displays are meant to provide “purposeful distraction.” In other words, they help patients and visitors forget they’re in a hospital, and aim to provide moments of absorption and tranquility.

Size 750,000 square feet

Year 2012