From humble beginnings as a day nursery in 1890, Akron Children’s Hospital has evolved into the largest pediatric healthcare system in northeast Ohio, operating two hospitals, 22 offices, and approximately 70 specialty locations across the region – together drawing more than 650,000 patient visits each year.
When the hospital embarked on a $200 million expansion of its Akron campus to meet the current and future needs of children and their families – called “Building on the Promise” – it turned to HKS, Inc., as design architect for a new critical care tower.
Incorporating a theme of “things familiar” – in particular what a child would find in his or her back yard – the building’s look and feel are designed to inspire imagination as well as feelings of comfort and safety. For its distinctive lobby, the hospital leadership and HKS engaged in a visioning process which was then refined and executed by Xibitz.
“A child’s imagination is the most powerful tool we have,” said Becky Baumer, an HKS interior designer. “It transports them into another time, another place. It takes them out of their current state and into their perfect future state. It holds their dreams. It is healing. It is comforting. It is calming. It is playful. It turns things familiar into magical retreats.”
To accomplish the goal of turning things familiar into a magical retreat within the tower lobby, Xibitz supported final design development while leading and executing the fabrication and installation phases for two elements of this special experience.
These features include a “Blue Wall” spanning an open two-story space. Symbolizing a backyard fence, it is also visible from outside the building and incorporates a series of wood veneer panels mounted on the wall at different depths. Custom animated interactive elements are activated by motion sensors in some niches supplemented by static backlit images in others.
Abstract Tree Sculptures are another feature provided by Xibitz. They stretch from floor to ceiling, are made of durable material and are textured to enhance their resemblance to trees.
Xibitz also executed the production, engineering and installation of a chandelier representing a canopy of leaves. It utilizes panels of colored glass suspended at different heights that (move) with air movement.